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Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (detail) / Pontormo, Jacopo da, 1494-1556	 / 1527-1528 (Click the picture for more information)
Frequently Asked Questions
General
  • What is the Revised Common Lectionary?

    The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of weekly lections used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the United States. The RCL is built around the seasons of the Church Year, and includes four lections for each Sunday, as well as additional readings for major feast days. During most of the year, the lections are: a reading from the Hebrew Bible, a Psalm, a reading from the Epistles, and a Gospel reading. During the season of Easter, the Hebrew Bible lection is usually replaced with one from the Acts of the Apostles. The lections from the Hebrew Bible are sometimes chosen from the Apocrypha.

    The seasons of the Church Year reflect the life of Christ. Consequently, the gospel lections for each Sunday provide the focus for that day. The other lections for a given day generally have a thematic relationship to the gospel reading for that day, although this is not always the case. In Ordinary Time, the Revised Common Lectionary offers two sets of readings for the lessons from the Hebrew Bible. One set proceeds semicontinuouly, giving the story of the Patriarchs and the Exodus in Year A, the monarchial narratives in Year B, and readings from the Prophets in Year C. In the other set of readings for Ordinary Time (shown in italics on this site) the readings from the Hebrew Bible are thematically related to the gospel lections. Denominations or local churches generally use either the semicontinuous readings or the thematic readings during Ordinary Time. They do not typically move back and forth between the two over the course of a single season.

    The gospel readings for each year come from one of the synoptic gospels according to the following pattern:

    • Year A - Matthew
    • Year B - Mark
    • Year C - Luke

    Readings from the Gospel of John can be found throughout the RCL.

  • Is there an in-depth discussion of the Revised Common Lectionary that is easily accessible?

    An introduction to the Revised Common Lectionary can be found http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/RCL_Introduction_Web.pdf/ here.

  • Who compiled the Revised Common Lectionary?

    The Revised Common Lectionary was produced by The Consultation on Common Texts (CCT). At the time the RCL was compiled, the CCT was composed of representatives from the following denominations (taken from Consultation on Common Texts. The Revised Common Lectionary. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992):

    • The Anglican Church of Canada
    • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    • Christian Reformed Church in North America
    • The Episcopal Church
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
    • Free Methodist Church in Canada
    • International Commission on English in the Liturgy (an Agency of 26 Roman Catholic National or International Conferences of Bishops)
    • The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
    • Polish National Catholic Church
    • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    • The Presbyterian Church in Canada
    • Reformed Church in America
    • Roman Catholic Church in the United States
    • Roman Catholic Church in Canada
    • Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship
    • The United Church of Canada
    • United Church of Christ
    • The United Methodist Church
  • What is the Consultation on Common Texts?

    "The Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) originated in the mid-1960s as a forum for consultation on worship renewal among many of the major Christian churches in the United States and Canada." The group's efforts continue to this date, having produced the Revised Common Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, among other resources. (from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, 2005, pg. 5)

    The CCT website can be found http://www.commontexts.org/ here.

  • What churches are current members of the Consultation on Common Texts?

    Current members of the Consultation on Common Texts are:

    • The Anglican Church of Canada
    • Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
    • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    • Christian Reformed Church in North America
    • Church of the Brethren
    • Episcopal Church
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
    • Free Methodist Church in Canada
    • Liturgy and Life: American Baptist Fellowship of Liturgical Renewal
    • Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
    • Mennonite Church
    • National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States
    • Polish National Catholic Church
    • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    • Presbyterian Church in Canada
    • Reformed Church in America
    • Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship
    • United Church of Canada
    • United Church of Christ
    • United Methodist Church
    • Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
  • Where does the Revised Common Lectionary originate?

    The Revised Common Lectionary, first published in 1992, derives from The Common Lectionary of 1983, both based on the Ordo Lectionem Missae of 1969, a post-Vatican II ground-breaking revision of the Roman Lectionary. "The post-Vatican II Roman Lectionary represented a profound break with the past. Not only were the readings organized according to a plan whereby a richer fare of scripture was read in liturgical celebrations, in contrast to the medieval lectionary where the choice of readings was simply helter-skelter, but for the first time in history the Sunday lectionary covered a period of three years, each year being dedicated to a particular synoptic author--Matthew, Mark, or Luke. A fourth year was not dedicated to the gospel of John because readings from this gospel permeate the sacred seasons, especially the latter part of Lent and most of Easter."

    (from The Roman Lectionary and the Scriptures Read in Church, by Frank C. Quinn. National Catholic Reporter, Volume 31, no. 5 (November 18 1994), p. 6)

  • Is the Revised Common Lectionary different from the Roman Catholic lectionary?

    In some instances the two differ, primarily on feast days that are specific to the Roman Catholic Church. An excellent website for the Lectionary for Mass (1998 USA) can be found here.

  • What is a lectionary?

    Generally, a lectionary is a list of scriptural texts (called "lections") recommended for use in worship or study on a particular day. Christian lectionaries are usually built around the Church Year, but they are sometimes centered on the secular calendar (as with programs that guide a person through reading the Bible in a year). Christian lectionaries generally include a reading from the Hebrew Bible, a Psalm, a reading from the Epistles, and a Gospel reading.

Structure and Use
  • What about those scripture verses that open with confusing references, or clearly need prefacing?

    The Consultation on Common Texts writes this in the introduction to the RCL: "In the opening verses of readings...the reader should omit initial conjunctions that refer only to what has preceded, and substitute nouns for pronouns when the person referred to is not otherwise clear. The reader may also preface the readings with an introduction, such as "N. said (to N.)."

  • I want to provide a link to the Lectionary readings for each upcoming liturgical date on my website. Is there a widget available that does this?

    While we do not currently provide a custom widget for this, you can make use of the Lectionary's RSS feed and a free service called feed2js to achieve this functionality. Here is a widget using feed2js which displays the upcoming liturgical date name and the readings for that date. 

     

    To use this widget, copy and paste this code into your website:

     < script language="JavaScript" src="http://feed2js.org//feed2js.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Flectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu%2Ffeeds%2Flectionary.xml&desc=1" type="text/javascript" > </script >

    If you would like to change what elements appear in the widget, you can build your own code at the feed2js site. Enter the the Lectionary RSS feed URL in the URL box and use the form to customize your display.

    Once the code is on your website, you can use CSS styles to further customize the look and feel of your widget.

  • Why are there so many options for first and second readings, Psalms, and Gospel readings? Doesn't this detract from the goal of getting everyone to read the same lessons?

    It's understandable that users of the Revised Common Lectionary might have these questions. One way to answer them would be to note that the Consultation on Common Texts, the ecumenical committee charged with developing the reading selections, negotiated a variety of perspectives that occasionally called for additional inclusions of texts. Representatives of the many faiths and denominations participating in this ecumenical effort determined that in some cases only adding additional options to a service day's reading would sufficiently represent the perspectives of the participants or the unique theological/historical focus of the day. The Consultation on Common Texts understood that to bring the Revised Common Lectionary to common acceptance across the community of Christian faith, the commonality would need to include some flexibility.

    The most significant number of options occurs during the Season after Pentecost. One strand of Old Testament readings follows major stories/themes, read mostly continuously, beginning in Year A with Genesis and ending in Year C with the later prophets. A different strand of readings follow the centuries-old historical tradition of thematically pairing the Old Testament reading with the Gospel reading, often typologically, with the presaging of Jesus Christ's life and ministry. The Consultation on Common Texts designed the Lectionary to make use of either of these strands, but once a strand has been selected, it should be followed through to the end of the Pentecost season. Within each strand there may be additional readings, readings which are complementary to the standard reading; these may be used with the standard reading, or in place of it. These complementary readings are indicated by italics; complementary readings appear throughout the church year, not just during the Season of Pentecost.

  • How is the Revised Common Lectionary structured?

    The RCL offers a three-year cycle with four readings for every Sunday in the Church Year. These readings are:

    • A Lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures (or Acts during the Season of Easter)
    • A Psalm
    • A Lesson from the Epistles or Acts
    • A Lesson from the Gospels

    During Ordinary Time, there are two sets of Hebrew Bible readings. One set progresses semi-continuously through the Patriarchal/Exodus narratives (Year A), the Monarchial narratives (Year B), and the Prophets (Year C). The other set is related thematically to the gospel lections for those dates. Likewise, during Ordinary Time, there are two separate Psalm readings, one that corresponds to the semi-continuous Hebrew Bible lection and one that corresponds to the theme of the gospel lection. The Hebrew Bible lections during the rest of the year are thematically related to the gospel lections, which are in turn connected to the seasons of the Church Year. Additional readings are provided for special feast days.

  • Why do the Propers have different numbering systems?

    The Proper numbers within brackets represent the system used by the Roman Catholic church and The Anglican Church of Canada, based upon the historic Roman lectionary. The Proper numbers without brackets represent the system of numbering used by the rest of the participating church bodies that have adopted the Revised Common Lectionary. The differing numbers do not indicate differing readings, but rather indicate traditional practices.

    The Consultation on Common Texts (the interfaith organizational body responsible for the current Revised Common Lectionary) adopted the practice of the Episcopal Church of replacing the "Sundays after Pentecost" with "Propers" keyed to the civil calendar (e.g., instead of the "Ninth Sunday after Pentecost," you now have "Proper 11, to be used on the Sunday between July 17 and 23 inclusive.") [from Alexander Ring, "The Path of Understanding: The Development of Lectionaries and Their Use in the Lutheran Church." Evangelical Lutheran Synod General Pastoral Conference, January 18, 1998 - http://www.blc.edu/comm/gargy/gargy1/AlexRing.gpc.html]

  • Why are passages from Acts used as Old Testament passages after Easter?

    It appears that the tradition of using Acts instead of the Old Testament is a very ancient one, established in the early Church.

    According to the Consultation on Common Texts,"Revised Common Lectionary," Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992, pg. 13:

    "A final concern in relation to the Easter cycle has to do with the disuse of the Hebrew Scriptures during the season of Easter in the Roman lectionary (a practice mentioned by Augustine in the fifth century). Following the liturgical tradition of the Ambrosian and Hispanic rites in the West and also that of the majority of the Churches in the East, the Roman lectionary of 1969 does not use the Old Testament during the Great Fifty Days from Easter to Pentecost. Nevertheless, the Roman rite (and the Revised Common Lectionary) has included extensive Old Testament readings in the vigils for Easter and Pentecost."

  • How can the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary be used in worship?

    First and foremost all of the texts can be read aloud (although the Psalm is often sung). In addition, hymns, prayers, litanies, and other liturgical elements which reflect the themes and language of the text can be incorporated into the service. When a congregation hears, sings, prays, and listens to the words and images of common scriptures over the course of several years, their connection to those texts is deepened significantly.

    Using the RCL ties worship in a local congregation to the worship of millions of Christians around the world. Drawing from a common set of texts means that Christians will be hearing and reflecting on the same scriptures and themes. Sometimes they are even singing the same hymns. In addition, building worship around the texts of the RCL also ties local worship to that of the historic Church. Using all four readings develops the discipline of reading and hearing the scriptures that define the Christian faith. It also deepens the congregation's understanding of the Church Year (and consequently the life of Christ) while also helping to set the rhythm for that year. Since the Revised Common Lectionary is drawn from a long succession of older lectionaries, using those readings in worship echoes the earlier practice of the Church. One final, pragmatic advantage to using the RCL is the wealth of liturgical and homiletic resources that are available around the common texts.

  • Where do I send questions, corrections, requests, or concerns?

    Just fill in the feedback form below:

    Your feedback is essential in helping us improve our new interface; thank you!

    (Note: Any comments containing website URLs will be blocked by the spam filter.)
    My email address is...
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  • When does the new lectionary year begin?

    On the first Sunday of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is four Sundays prior to the Western feast day of Christmas (December 25).

  • Why are there are two liturgies on the Sunday before Easter? -- Liturgy of Palm and Liturgy of Passion?

    Both options are offered for a variety of reasons. For some churches, the length of the Passion narrative is problematic for Sunday worship, or the churches choose to read the Passion narrative at a special service before Easter. Some churches choose to read both, celebrating Palm Sunday but also reading the Passion narrative in lieu of a sermon. The dual offering accommodates practice for all denominations on this important liturgical Sunday.

Bible Versions/Translations
Terms Of Use
  • May we link to your website from our church's website?

    Certainly. Please contact the library to let us know that you are linking to us. Please include the URL for your site in your e-mail.

  • What are the terms of use for the Lectionary?

    Copyright permission for this project has been received:

    • Lectionary selections are reprinted from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © 2005. Consultation on Common Texts, Augsburg Fortress Publishers. Reproduced by permission.
    • Scripture texts are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
    • Prayers are reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. A complete edition of the prayers is available though Augsburg Fortress.
    • Art images are from the Art in the Christian Tradition database, a project sponsored by the Jean and Alexander Heard Library and the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, a division of the Heard Library, 2007.

    The lectionary selections, scripture texts, and prayers may be freely used for non-profit purposes by worship leaders, teachers, and others in the Church and educational communities. Extensive portions of the NRSV may not be quoted without permission from the holder of copyright as stated above. Please contact us if you have questions.

    The art images and accompanying descriptions may be freely used for non-profit purposes by worship leaders, teachers, and others in the Church and educational communities. They are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to use and to share the file for non-commercial purposes under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license compatible with this one. For other use, please contact the Divinity Library Reference Staff with your request.

  • How do we credit the prayers in our bulletins?

    "Reprinted from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts"

Calendars - Email
Printing and Display
  • Having trouble printing?

    1 -- At the top right hand corner of the scripture texts page you will find a small "printer" icon. Click on it, follow the instructions, and see if that resolves the difficulty. If not, try the next...

    2 -- Most likely the problem is with a general browser default setting that shrinks the page size so as to fit all the text on one page. Each browser has its own settings for this feature:

    In Internet Explorer 7.0/8.0, go to "File" -- "Page Setup" -- check the box beside "Enable Shink-to-Fit" -- click "OK." At the top right hand corner of the webpage that you wish to print, click the printer icon and follow the steps.

    In Firefox, go to "File" -- "Page Setup" -- "Format & Options" -- check the box for "Shrink to fit page width" -- click "OK." At the top right hand corner of the webpage that you wish to print, click the printer icon and follow the steps.

    In Safari and in Chrome, there is no "Shrink-to-fit" setting; it apparently is an unchangeable default. Simply go to the top right hand corner of the webpage that you wish to print, click the printer icon and follow the steps.

    3 -- If that does not resolve it, try this: at the top right hand corner of the scripture texts page, you will find a small "computer disk" icon. Click on it. The last option presented is a small "sheet of paper" icon with the words "text document (.txt)" beside it. Click on the sheet of paper. Your computer will prompt you to save a file that contains all the scriptures. You can then print that directly or copy it and paste it into your word processor and print it from there.

  • Is there a way to make the font size larger for printing?

    Yes. On the page you wish to print, look in the upper right hand corner of the page. Click on the "printer" icon. The print box will offer four font sizes for printing.

  • Are you having difficulty with the clarity of the fonts on the lectionary site?

    Some users have reported trouble with the clarity of the fonts used in the website. Try setting your browser to use the particular computer's default fonts, instead of fonts specified by web page authors. For instance, in Firefox, choose Tools->Options, in Content tab, in the "Fonts & Color" box, select "default fonts" to display web pages. Click the "Advanced" button, and you can further define how the browser interprets Serif, Sans-serif, and the monospace font in different language settings. Disable "Allow pages to choose their own fonts."

  • Is there a way to make the font size larger for reading online?

    Yes, by using a Windows command: on your keyboard, hold down the control key and press the plus-equal sign key while you are holding down the control key. To make the font size smaller, hold down the control key and press the underline-dash key.

  • When I print a page, the text is cut off on the right hand margin. How can this be corrected?

    Most likely the problem is with a general browser default setting that shrinks the page size so as to fit all the text on one page. Each browser has its own settings for this feature:

    In Internet Explorer 7.0/8.0, go to "File" -- "Page Setup" -- check the box beside "Enable Shink-to-Fit" -- click "OK." At the top right hand corner of the webpage that you wish to print, click the printer icon and follow the steps.

    In Firefox, go to "File" -- "Page Setup" -- "Format & Options" -- check the box for "Shrink to fit page width" -- click "OK." At the top right hand corner of the webpage that you wish to print, click the printer icon and follow the steps.

    In Safari and in Chrome, there is no "Shrink-to-fit" setting; it apparently is an unchangeable default. Simply go to the top right hand corner of the webpage that you wish to print, click the printer icon and follow the steps.

  • How can I print particular passages instead of all of the passages?

    When you are viewing the webpage with the passages for the week, locate the "printer" icon in the top right hand corner of the page. Click on the printer icon. You will have the option to uncheck the passages that you do not want to print.

  • Is there a printable Lectionary?

    You can easily print each "season" (there are seven for each year and are listed in the left column,) using the "printer" icon at the top right hand corner of the page. If you would like a Lectionary without any calendar dates, you can export the files as an Excel document and remove the calendar date field and then print as desired. Another alternative is to purchase a copy of the Lectionary, available in religious bookstores or on Amazon.

Mobile and Other Platforms
Daily Lectionary
Searching
  • How do I search for a specific scripture?

    In the top right hand corner of the RCL website, you will find a search box with button text "Lections." Begin typing the book of the Bible, and a list of all the entries in the RCL will appear as a list. Click on the appropriate passage from the list and that passage will appear in the search box. Click "go." The search results will appear in a page that shows where that passage appears in the Lectionary and will provide the text of that scripture passage.

  • Is there a way to see all of the lections in Bible-book order?

    Yes; simply click on the book icon (Lection Index) found at the top right-hand corner of the page.

Art -- Prayer
Prior Website -- Classic
  • Is there any way to get to the beautiful banner images from the prior version of the Lectionary site?

    Yes; previous banner images are available for download through the Classic Banners page on the site.

  • Why did you change from the previous RCL website format?

    The format that we used for the last nine years was a beautifully crafted, simple, html-based site. Because it was an html-driven design, all the updating changes had to be made by editing the actual each individual season's webpage. This approach made it easy to make errors, both in calculations and in webpage editing. In addition, the html approach meant that we could not add additional features that many of our users asked for. The new design is database-driven, which means fewer errors and more flexibility for the enchancements that our users need. We still have the lovely graphics from the prior site linked in our FAQs, for those who wish to continue to use them for page/bulletin headers, etc.

Other Lectionaries
  • Do the Jewish or Muslim faiths also have an order of readings based on a calendar?

    Regarding a prescribed order of readings for Jews: there is no one prescribed order. The length of a "reading cycle" has varied over time: as the article on the "Triennial Cycle" in the Encyclopedia Judaica (2nd edition) notes, "In traditional synagogues, the Pentateuch is read in one year. Reform Judaism (and some Conservative synagogues) has, however, reverted to the ancient Palestinian custom of a triennial cycle" (vol. 20, p. 143). Another article in the Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd edition, ("Torah, Reading Of") goes into a bit more detail about how the Torah is read today and includes a number of tables of readings. There is also an article on the "Triennial Cycle" in the first edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica; it's available for free online (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=327&letter=T&search=triennial).

    Tables of readings for the Jewish faith can be found online -- for example, http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/readingp.htm has a table for the annual reading of the Torah, along with another table of readings for special Sabbaths and holidays. Note that the Torah reading is accompanied by readings from the Prophets (called Haftaroth; the article mentioned above, entitled "Torah, Reading Of," notes that "[t]he practice of "completing" the Torah reading with a passage from one of the prophetic books, the haftarah ("completion"), is mentioned in the Mishnah (Meg. 4:1–2); the origins of the custom, however, are obscure" (vol. 20, p. 50). These tables are keyed to a calendar (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/jewfaq/current.htm); if you start with the calendar, you can get to the correct reading for a particular day by clicking the links on the calendar.

    Online orders of reading for the triennial cycle are available, as this example: http://www.hebcal.com/hebcal/; to see weekly readings, make sure you check the "Weekly sedrot on Saturdays" option under the "Include events" section on the left of the page. The calendar will have links to the readings for both the annual and the triennial cycles.

    Regarding a prescribed order of reading for Muslims: the Encyclopedia of the Qu'ran notes the following about recitation of the text: "During the fasting month of Ramaḍān, the entire Qur'ān is read over the course of the month in night prayers called tarāwīḥ. One of the standard divisions of the Qur'ān is its partition into thirty equal, consecutive parts, or juz' (pl. ajzā'); this sectioning facilitates complete recitation over the course of a month. In addition, during Ramaḍān or during the days of the pilgrimage, pious Muslims may recite the entire Qur'ān in one night. Muslims read the Qur'ān frequently as an act of supererogatory piety, and recitation — especially at night — is performed by committed Muslims" (from the article "Recitation of the Qur'ān" by Anna M. Gade, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'ān, gen. ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Washington DC. Brill, 2009). This article goes on to mention some of the sūras that are frequently evoked in specific situations, with emphasis on the correct recitation (including pronunciation) of the Arabic. As best we know, there is not a "cycle" or "order of readings for the Qur'ān, other than the Ramadan division of readings.

  • Where are the readings for saints days and other lesser feasts?

    Since our site is the standard for the Revised Common Lectionary, used across many denominations, some of the saints' days celebrated in Episcopal churches are not included. We produce what the Consultation on Common Texts published in their 2005 edition. To find other saints' days readings, see: http://satucket.com/lectionary/Calendar.htm

Participation
  • Who uses the Revised Common Lectionary?

    The denominations below follow the RCL to various degrees in their worship. The Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches use variant readings on certain feast days. In addition, individual congregations from the free church tradition often adopt the RCL as an ecumenical act of fellowship. The RCL is generally used as a guide rather than as a constraint in most traditions. You can read more about the usage of the RCL at the CCT website here.

    • The Anglican Church of Canada
    • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    • Christian Reformed Church in North America
    • The Episcopal Church
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
    • Free Methodist Church in Canada
    • International Commission on English in the Liturgy (an Agency of 26 Roman Catholic National or International Conferences of Bishops)
    • The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
    • Polish National Catholic Church
    • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    • The Presbyterian Church in Canada
    • Reformed Church in America
    • Roman Catholic Church in the United States
    • Roman Catholic Church in Canada
    • Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship
    • The United Church of Canada
    • United Church of Christ
    • The United Methodist Church
Requested Site Features
  • Do you plan to make scripture commentary available?

    Because of copyright issues paired with limited stafftime, we are unable to offer commentary at this time. We do offer commentary of a kind; the Lectionary artworks usually have a small reflection written about the art as it relates to a particular Lectionary scripture. For instance, see Year B Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54132

  • Is it possible to make the scripture hovertext over the lections stay open longer?

    The hovertext timing is not easily modified, as it is browser-specific. Hopefully newer versions of browsers will allow more flexibility.

  • Are you considering changing the scripture layout to a "prose" form, as in newer Bible versions?

    We do now offer specially formatted PDFs that are structured in the "prose" form. This feature is available whenever launching the "printer" icon and is also available at http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/pdfs.php. The current verse-by-verse layout on the website of the scripture text could be changed to the prose form, but it would take significant programming and "elbow-grease" to provide this option. We have it in our list of future enhancements, so we will regularly review making this change in our planning. We hope to develop both the line-by-line and the prose format in a future website update.

  • Could you add the liturgical Color of the Day to each week's readings?

    We do offer a summary of the Seasons and their Colors that may be helpful:
    * Advent - The Season of Expectation - Beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, the season of Advent is a time when the Church looks toward the second coming of Jesus and the eternal hope of Christians in the end of time. The color for this season is either Purple (for royalty) or Blue (for the Virgin Mary).
    * Christmas - The Season of Incarnation - For 12 days, from Christmas Day (December 25) through Epiphany (January 6) (inclusive) the Church celebrates the miraculous incarnation of God in the person of Jesus. The color for this season is White.
    * Epiphany - This season connects with the Christmas season as a time of beginnings. Beginning with the visit of the Wise Ones, the season includes the baptism of Jesus, the presentation in the temple, the miracle at Cana, and the Transfiguration. The season's color is Green, with the special days using White for their celebration.
    * Lent - The Season of Reflection - For forty days (not including Sundays) prior to Easter Sunday the Church reflects on the suffering of Jesus. Together, we approach the cross. Worship during this period is traditionally more subdued and penitential. Many people also fast during the season of Lent. The color for this season is Purple.
    * Holy Week - The final week of Lent is called "Holy Week." Often churches that do not typically meet for daily worship will meet every day of Holy Week. At the minimum, they will worship on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The color for Holy Week remains Purple, although some churches use Red on Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. Some churches also use Black on Good Friday.
    * Easter - The Season of Resurrection - For fifty days beginning on Easter Sunday Christians celebrate the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and the certain hope their own resurrection. The color for Easter is White. This season ends on the Sunday of Pentecost, for which the color is Red.
    * Ordinary Time - The Season of Nurture and Growth - The periods of time following Epiphany and Pentecost are referred to as "Ordinary" because their Sundays are numbered in ordinal fashion. The focus of Ordinary Time is on developing a deeper understanding of Christian discipleship. The color for this season is Green (for growth).

    As to linking the colors directly to each liturgical day, we have added it to our future enhancements list. One of the complications is that denominations can occasionally differ regarding the use of a particular color. In the meantime, one among several useful resources for liturgical colors is available at http://www.elca.org/Growing-In-Faith/Worship/Learning-Center/FAQs/Liturgical-Colors.aspx.

Liturgical and Worship Aids
Church Year
  • What is the Church Year?

    The Church Year is an ancient way of telling time. Rather than measuring time exclusively according to the natural seasons, Christians have traditionally measured time in their worship with a calendar built around the life of Christ. Some of the seasons of the Church Year date back to our earliest written records of Christian worship. The current form of the Christian calendar, including its colors, dates, and feasts, was firmly in place by the medieval period. Worship that is centered on the Church Year allows Christians to step into the life of Jesus. Seasons of hope and grief, mercy and penitence assure that all aspects of the human condition are given an appropriate place in the worship practices of the Church. The repetition of these seasons is also an educational tool, gently inculcating the heritage of the faith. The specific season is reflected in the colors used for the paraments in the sanctuary and the clergy's vestments, the texts read, and other liturgical practices like the lighting of the paschal candle. When certain feast days fall during the week it is not unusual to celebrate them on the nearest Sunday. This generally does not apply to Ash Wednesday or Christmas Day.

  • What are the colors and seasons of the Church Year?

    * Advent - The Season of Expectation - Beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, the season of Advent is a time when the Church looks toward the second coming of Jesus and the eternal hope of Christians in the end of time. The color for this season is either Purple (for royalty) or Blue (for the Virgin Mary).
    * Christmas - The Season of Incarnation - For 12 days, from Christmas Day (December 25) through Epiphany (January 6) (inclusive) the Church celebrates the miraculous incarnation of God in the person of Jesus. The color for this season is White.
    * Epiphany - This season connects with the Christmas season as a time of beginnings. Beginning with the visit of the Wise Ones, the season includes the baptism of Jesus, the presentation in the temple, the miracle at Cana, and the Transfiguration. The season's color is Green, with the special days using White for their celebration.
    * Lent - The Season of Reflection - For forty days (not including Sundays) prior to Easter Sunday the Church reflects on the suffering of Jesus. Together, we approach the cross. Worship during this period is traditionally more subdued and penitential. Many people also fast during the season of Lent. The color for this season is Purple.
    * Holy Week - The final week of Lent is called "Holy Week." Often churches that do not typically meet for daily worship will meet every day of Holy Week. At the minimum, they will worship on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The color for Holy Week remains Purple, although some churches use Red on Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. Some churches also use Black on Good Friday.
    * Easter - The Season of Resurrection - For fifty days beginning on Easter Sunday Christians celebrate the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and the certain hope their own resurrection. The color for Easter is White. This season ends on the Sunday of Pentecost, for which the color is Red.
    * Ordinary Time - The Season of Nurture and Growth - The periods of time following Epiphany and Pentecost are referred to as "Ordinary" because their Sundays are numbered in ordinal fashion. The focus of Ordinary Time is on developing a deeper understanding of Christian discipleship. The color for this season is Green (for growth).

  • What are the major feast days of the Church Year?

    * Christmas Day (December 25) - Celebrating the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
    * Epiphany (January 6) - Honoring the arrival of the magi.
    * Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday immediately prior to Ash Wednesday) - Prepares the Church for the rigors of Lent by dwelling on the holiness of Jesus as demonstrated in the moment of his transfiguration.
    * Ash Wednesday (40 days, excluding Sundays, prior to Easter Day) - Begins a season of penitence, reflection, and fasting. It is generally observed by the imposition of ashes on the forehead with the words "From dust you have come, to dust you shall return."
    * Palm Sunday (1 week prior to Easter Day) - Begins Holy Week by commemorating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
    * Passion Sunday (observed on Palm Sunday) - Passion Sunday is sometimes observed in congregations where attendance during Holy Week is low or impossible, or where the congregation wishes to use that Sunday as preparation for the somber tone of Holy Week. This feast focuses on Jesus' suffering, in anticipation of Resurrection Sunday. Passion Sunday is sometimes observed in conjunction with Palm Sunday.
    * Maundy Thursday (Thursday immediately prior to Easter Day) - Commemorates the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Services on this evening often include a small fellowship meal and footwashing, in imitation of Jesus.
    * Good Friday (Friday immediately prior to Easter Day) - Commemorates the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. A somber service without the Eucharist, often ending in a darkened sanctuary.
    * Holy Saturday (the day immediately prior to Easter Day) - Commemorates the time when Jesus' body lay in the tomb. Many churches observe an Easter Vigil throughout the night reading biblical texts which tell the whole salvation history of humanity.
    * Resurrection Sunday / Easter Day - Commemorates the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
    * Ascension of the Lord (Thursday, 40 days following Easter Day) - Commemorates the ascension of Jesus.
    * Pentecost (50 days following Easter Day) - Commemorates the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the Church. The color for this Sunday is Red (representing the Holy Spirit).
    * Trinity Sunday (Sunday following Pentecost) - Honors the mystery of the Trinity.
    * Reign of Christ / Christ the King (last Sunday prior to Advent) - Honors Jesus as the unique and fully divine Son of God.

  • Which colors are associated with the seasons and feasts of the Church Year?

    * Green - Ordinary Time
    * Blue - Advent
    * Purple - Advent, Lent
    * Black - Good Friday
    * Red - Pentecost, Ordinations, Reformation Sunday, (Passion Sunday), (Maundy Thursday)
    * White - Christmas, Easter, Weddings, Funerals

  • What is the relationship between the Church Year and the Revised Common Lectionary?

    The readings of the Revised Common Lectionary are selected to reflect the themes of the particular seasons, and in particular the specific episodes of the life of Christ which are the focus of each season.

  • How is the date for Easter determined?

    Resurrection Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The tables used to determine when the full moon falls do not precisely match the ones used by astronomers. Details on how the date of Easter is calculated can be found http://www.assa.org.au/edm here.

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