Tracking Sanctity: Lesser Feasts & Fasts 1963

The second half of Prayer Book Studies 9 came out as Prayer Book Studies XII. I haven’t laid eyes on it yet, so the next stopping point is in 1963; a press release from 1964 identifies it as Prayer Book Studies XVI, but the copy I hold gives no indication of being a part of the Prayer Book Studies series. Rather it is simply titled The Calendar and the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts and for Special Occasions.

It contains no prefatory or explanatory material. The Contents are as follows:

The Calendar (p. 1)

The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts (p. 15)
Advent Season (p. 17)
Lenten Season (p. 22)
Easter Week (p. 49)
Rogation Days (p. 55)
Whitsun Week (p. 59)
Autumn Ember Days (p. 65)
The Lesser Holy Days (p. 70)
The Common of Saints (p. 154)

For Special Occasions (p. 163)

Indices (p. 191)
Alterations in Scripture Lessons (From the Authorized Version) (p. 193)
Index of Scripture Lessons (In Canonical Order) (p. 196)
Movable Days and Seasons (In Chronological Order) (p. 201)
Immovable Days (In Alphabetical Order) (p. 203)
Common of Saints and Special Occasions (p. 205)

Changes to the Calendar

Looking at the Calendar of this book in comparison with PBS9, it’s clear that someone’s been busy—and in some interesting ways. To back-track a moment, you may recall that PBS9 had an appendix entitled “Notes on Certain Rejected Commemorations.” In this short bit of text, it identified a number of commemorations not added to the Calendar. First was a set of 11 early English, Scottish, and Welsh saints honored in other parts of the Communion. These were not accepted as the Commission thought they would give a disproportionate weight to a single tradition. Then, a set of 9 other observances commemorated elsewhere in the Communion were identified and reasons given for their non-inclusion. To give you a sense of the list it included Valentine, George (of course), Anne, and the Nativity and Conception of the BVM.

The 1963 1st Edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts introduces 22 new entries adding 25 named individuals to the Calendar. Of the 11 rejected early English saints, 5 were added (Wulfstan, Chad, Cuthbert, Richard of Chichester, and Alphege). (I’m surprised Ninian wasn’t on the PBS9 banned list but he gets included here too…) Additionally, one of the other commemorations was added, the Parents of the BVM. Technically “Anne” wasn’t added because her name wasn’t mentioned—but it’s the thought that counts!

Overall, the additions seem to be centered around biblical personages not in the Calendar before, and adding in a number of medieval folk omitted the previous time around. Here are the stats on just the additions:

By level:

  • 4 Commemorations
  • 18 Memorials

By ordination status:

  • 12 bishops (48%)
  • 6 priests (24%)
  • 0 deacons
  • 2 religious (8%)
  • 5 laity (20%)
  • 1 unqualified collective

By gender:

  • 20 male (80%)
  • 5 female (20%)
  • 1 unqualified collective

By category:

  • 7 Bishop/Confessors
  • 4 Male Confessors
  • 2 Bishop/Martyrs
  • 1 Multiple Male Confessors
  • 1 Bishop/Confessor/Doctor
  • 1 Confessor/Doctor
  • 1 Multiple Martyrs
  • 1 Virgin/Doctor
  • 1 Virgin/Abbot
  • 1 Feast of the BVM
  • 1 Multiple Bishops/Confessors
  • 1 Multiple Female Confessors

Entries by century:


As you can see, the pattern is similar to what we saw before—commemorations for Patristic era and earlier saints, memorials only for the later.

The New Shape of the Calendar

Ok—so now the stats of the Calendar as a whole, including both the original 1957 list and the 1963 additions…

The Calendar now contains 140 entries with 142 named individuals. There are 26 Red Letter Days (+/- 0), 47 Black Letter commemorations (with full propers) (+7), and 67 Black Letter memorials (collect only) (+15).

Looking at the 114 Black Letter Days and their 112 named individuals we have

By ordination status:

  • 61 bishops (53%) [+12/-1%]
  • 22 priests (19%) [+6/+1%]
  • 4 deacons (3%) [+0/-1%]
  • 9 religious (8%) [+2/0%]
  • 18 laity (16%) [+5/+2%]
  • 2 unqualified collectives (2%) [+1/0%]

By gender:

  • 102 male (88%) [+20/-2%]
  • 14 female (12%) [+5/+2%]

Entries by category:

  • 29 Bishop/Confessors
  • 20 Male Confessors
  • 13 Bishop/Confessor/Doctors
  • 9 Bishop/Martyrs
  • 8 Hermit/Monastics
  • 8 Confessor/Doctors
  • 5 Multiple Martyrs
  • 4 Martyrs
  • 3 Feasts of the BVM
  • 3 Multiple Bishops/Confessors
  • 3 Female Confessors
  • 2 Virgin/Abbesses
  • 1 Virgin/Doctor
  • 1 Multiple Female Confessors
  • 1 Multiple Male Confessors
  • 1 Virgin/Martyr
  • 1 Apostle
  • 1 Feast of Our Lord

Entries by century:


Not a whole lot of change in the shape—perhaps a bit more exaggeration: the peaks at the 13th and 19th centuries have both grown a bit higher.

Items of Note

First, there were some changes in level to some of the 1957 entries. 3 memorials were moved up to become commemorations (Bede, the Martyrs of Lyon, and Jerome). Not sure why this happened. I know the Martyrs of Lyon is a commemoration near and dear to the heart of Dr. Robert Wright at GTS but I don’t know if he had anything to do with this.

Second, October reveals an odd shift. With a dearth of Reformation and post-Reformation saints in the Calendar, it is the only month containing Christians killed by Christians—Wyclif and Latimer/Ridley. Whereas both of these entries had been marked as “Martyrs” in 1957, the “Martyr” label is here dropped in both cases. I was warned to look for this… Apparently there was a period where it was thought that Christians killed by Christians shouldn’t be considered martyrs. That’s pure bull-hockey in my book, but here it is…

Third, seven feasts changed dates, often with no presenting cause. That is, they went from one date to another without anything “forcing” them from their original date. That suggests to me that there were some ecumenical rumblings about coming up with standard dates for saints but exactly where this is coming from, I don’t know. Perhaps the Canadian 1962 BCP had an effect here…?


The feasts given “full” propers are provided with a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel. (Note that these are liturgical “Epistles” and not necessarily selections from the NT letters; of the 47 commemorations, 16 receive Epistles from the OT or Apocrypha.) The selections are rarely long, most falling in the 3 to 6 verse range with a few going longer than that. These are also printed in full as the AV/KJV was the only Bible appointed for liturgical use in the church. There is no repetition of the biblical lessons—each feast receives its own unique material. The rubrics don’t say that these are materials for Mass and not Offices but neither do the have to—they are clearly set up as Mass Propers with no view to their use in the Office. (I.e., the use of sanctoral scripture propers in the Office for non-Holy Days has always been an abuse and was not the intention of this book book or its replacements.)

Commons beyond just “Saint” appear here for the first time, giving us a better sense of how the Commission broke down the categories. Commons containing a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel are provided for:

  • Martyr
  • Missionary
  • Theologian or Teacher
  • Monastic
  • Deaconess
  • Saint (2 options given)

The inclusion of “Deaconess” seems quite odd especially as there are none represented in the Calendar! Perhaps this is foreshadowing…

As in the 1928 Prayer Book, no Proper Preface is identified and the “Saint” Common with its two collects reflect what is in the ’28 book.

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