On the 1552 Daily Office Lectionary: Further Changes

Last time we talked about the 1549 and 1552 lectionaries and said that they were essentially the same. And it’s true, they were—in their basic framework. Were the 1552 headed in a different direction, though, is that it had a table before the kalendar-based table that was entitled: Proper Psalms and Lessons for divers Feasts and Days, at Morning and Evening Prayer.

Let’s recap briefly. The kalendar table gave two readings for each Office for every single day of the year. The system proceeding through the Scriptures in canonical order except when the order was broken by a feast. So—we need to note two things in particular. First, there are no psalms associated with this table. They weren’t needed because the monthly pattern had already been laid out in a previous preface and there was no need to reprint what had already been said. Second, a table of this kind can only designate lessons for feasts that fall on stable dates. And since several of the primary feasts of the Christian Year fall based on the fluid date of Easter, they cannot be represented by such a table.

These are the two limitations that the additional table in the 1552 book was trying to address. In some cases (especially the feasts of saints) the notes on replicate what is already provided in the kalendar table. In others, though, proper psalms are given that were not provided for in the kalendar table. Furthermore, lessons are given for certain non-fixed days. For example, a provision is introduced for the Wednesday before Easter—but it’s partial: “On Wednesday before Easter, at Evening Prayer. The first Lesson, Hosea 13, 14.” Of the four readings read on any given day, this table directs only a change in one for this occurrence. Only rarely are psalms and all four readings provided. For Trinity Sunday, for instance, we have only this: “On Trinity Sunday, at Morning Prayer. The first Lesson, Gen. 18. The second Lesson, Matt. 3.” (Nothing provided for Evening Prayer at all…)

Here are the “divers Feasts and Days” so appointed:

  • Christmas Day
  • St Stephen’s Day
  • St John the Evangelist’s Day
  • Innocents’ Day
  • Circumcision Day
  • Epiphany
  • Wednesday before Easter
  • Thursday before Easter
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Even
  • Easter Day
  • Monday in Easter Week
  • Tuesday in Easter Week
  • Ascension Day
  • Whitsunday
  • Trinity Sunday
  • Conversion of St Paul
  • St Barnabas Day
  • St John Baptist’s Day
  • St Peter’s Day
  • All Saints Day

When you look at most of the readings appointed, they are more often than not the biblical texts that pertain to the particular saint on offer. The readings are proper so as to establish the biblical appearance of the saint.

Thus, this table introduced a tiny bit more of the liturgical year into the Daily Office Lectionary. More important, it introduced a precedent for a Temporal table to supplement the static Kalendar table.