Frequently Asked Questions – Lectionary

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on the Lectionary which will come into use in England and Wales from Advent 2024.

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A new edition of the Lectionary, the book which contains the readings which are proclaimed at Mass, will come into use in England and Wales in Advent 2024. The new edition uses the English Standard Version- Catholic Edition for the readings and the Abbey Psalms and Canticles for the Responsorial Psalms. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Are there changes to the readings?

This is a new publication of the Lectionary using a different scripture translations — the content remains the same. So, for the reading for each Sunday will be the same.

What’s new?

There will be provision for Saints who have been added to the Universal Calendar since the last Lectionary published in 1981. There will also be the readings for the National Calendars. In addition, some of the revised liturgical rites, such as Marriage, have additional readings.

Will the text be mandatory?

It is normal practice in the Roman Rite that there is only a single edition of a liturgical text in use in a particular territory. So in the same way as only the third edition of the Roman Missal (2010) may be used in the celebration of Mass (in the Ordinary Form); the same will be true for the Lectionary.

Who will be publishing the Lectionary?

The Catholic Truth Society have been appointed publishers for the Lectionary. They are working closely with the bishops to ensure that the published volumes are worthy, clear in page layout, sturdy and reflect the daily needs of the liturgy.

When will the Lectionary published?

The bishops of England and Wales completed their approval of the Lectionary text in 2018. The text was then submitted to the Holy See to be reviewed. The Lectionary will be published in good time for its first use in Advent 2024.

How many volumes?

The current Lectionary (1981) is in three volumes. One significant change in the layout is that all the readings will be given in sense lines as an assistance to the reader. This is recommended in the Introduction to the Lectionary and is common to most recent publications of the Lectionary. The effect is that readings do require more space and this means more pages.

The new Lectionary will be in four volumes: one for Sundays and Solemnities, two volumes for Weekdays and the Proper of Saints, a final volume with Ritual Masses, Masses for the Dead etc.

What is a Missal?

In the Liturgy the Missal can refer to three distinct but related things. To many people the most familiar meaning is a peoples’ Missal – either for Sundays or weekdays.

To understand the other two meanings, it is easiest to take a step away. The various books of the Roman Rite (for the celebration of Sacraments etc.) are grouped together. Those rites which are primarily celebrated by the Bishop (such as Ordination) are part of the Roman Pontifical. The two books for the celebration of Mass form the Roman Missal, one of these, which contains the readings is the Lectionary, the other, which contains the prayers, is the Missal.

Will I need a new Sunday Missal?

Many people have a Sunday or Weekday Missal to either prepare the readings or to reflect on them. Some also use it to follow the text which is proclaimed in the liturgy. As the new Lectionary will use a different translation of the scriptures people will wish to get a new Sunday or Weekday Missal.

What is the English Standard Version: Catholic Edition?

The English Standard Version is the latest in a series of English translations which go back to the 16th Century. These translations have all been based on a ‘word for word’ principle. The ESV is directly based on the Revised Standard Version and it is suggested that c. 6% of the text has been revised. Changes were made to modernise the language and reflect the latest scholarship. The publisher Crossway emphasises ‘word-for-word’ accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning. Work on the Catholic Edition was done by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in collaboration with Crossway.

What is the Abbey Psalms and Canticles?

The Grail Psalms have been part of Liturgy in English since before the Second Vatican Council. They are used in both the Lectionary and the Divine Office.

In 2008 a revision of the text was undertaken by the monks of Conception Abbey, Missouri. It sought to bring the latest scholarly understanding of the text and to review the text where the English was essentially a paraphrase of the Hebrew. This text was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2010. A further revision in the light of use was prepared and approved both by USCCB and CBCEW, and has received the confirmatio of the Holy See. This text is now owned by USCCB who have renamed it Abbey Psalms and Canticles both in recognition of the work of Conception Abbey and also so that there was clarity about the edition being used. This text will be used in the Lectionary and in subsequent liturgical books, such as the Liturgy of the Hours.

Is there a revision of the Liturgy of the Hours as well?

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is responsible for translating the Latin liturgical texts for the English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences. It was approached by USCCB to assist in a new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. Broadly this work can be divided into three areas: Psalms and Canticles; Scripture and scripture based texts; other texts.

The Abbey Psalms and Canticles will provide the first area. Other texts are being translated by ICEL — these include the hymns, many of which have not been available before, and the intercessions. This vast project has been in progress for a number of years with the Bishops of England and Wales receiving, commenting and voting on the material which has been prepared by ICEL. There is not currently an estimated date for publication.


What is a Lectionary?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Catholic edition of the Bible?
Translating the Bible

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