Understanding the Historic (One-Year) Lectionary


The lectionary is a set of readings that establish the various seasons of the Christian Church Year. The Historic Lectionary follows a one-year cycle that retains the traditional order of Epistle and Gospel readings used by Lutherans before the adoption of the newer three-year lectionaries. This lectionary is “historic” in that it has been used by many Lutherans since the sixteenth century and that it reflects much of what was common in the medieval practice inherited by the Lutheran reformers. The Latin names are retained for many of the Sundays. This post is designed to be an aid in understanding the Sunday-names used in the Historic Lectionary.

Advent

Ad Te Levavi—The First Sunday of Advent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon: “I lift up my soul (to you)” (Isaiah 20:29, 30; 62:11)

Populus Zion—The Second Sunday of Advent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon: “People (Daughter) of Zion”

Gaudete—The Third Sunday of Advent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon: “Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4-5)

Rorate Coeli—The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon: “Let the heavens” (Isaiah 45:8)

The Nativity of Our Lord––Christmas

Christmas Eve

(The Nativity according to St. Matthew)

Christmas Midnight

(The Nativity according to St. Luke)

Christmas Day (December 25)

(The Nativity according to St. John)

The First Sunday after Christmas

The Circumcision and the Name of Jesus (January 1)

The Second Sunday after Christmas

The Epiphany of Our Lord

The Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6)

The First Sunday after the Epiphany (Historic)

The Baptism of Our Lord (Revised)

Sundays after the Epiphany

There may be celebrated as few as two Sunday after the Epiphany and as many as six. The actual number is determined each year by the date of Easter.

The Transfiguration is always celebrated as the Last Sunday after the Epiphany.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Pre-Lent

The number-names of the Sundays in this short season do not correspond to exact periods of time before Easter, but rather are meant to designate general markers as the Church journeys  toward her annual celebration of Christ’s resurrection. From the first Sunday of Pre-Lent to the Saturday evening after Easter (which, strictly speaking, is the end of the Easter octave) there are 70 days.

Septuagesima

Latin, The Sunday seventy days before Easter

Sexagesima

Latin, The Sunday sixty days before Easter

Quinquagesima (also known as Esto Mihi)

Latin, The Sunday fifty days before Easter

(Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Be to me” Psalm 31:2–3)

Lent

Ash Wednesday

Invocabit—The First Sunday in Lent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Call” (Psalm 911: 15–16)

Reminiscere—The Second Sunday in Lent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Remember” (Psalm 25: 6, 7)

Oculi—The Third Sunday in Lent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Eyes” (Psalm 25: 15–16

Laetare—The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Rejoice” ( Isaiah 66:10­–11)

Judica—The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Vindicate/Judge” (Psalm 43: 1–2)

Palmarum—Palm Sunday

Latin, “Palm”

Holy Week

Monday of Holy Week

Tuesday of Holy Week

Wednesday of Holy Week

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

Saturday of Holy Week

The Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter

Easter Vigil

Easter Dawn

Easter Day

Easter Monday

Quasimodo Geniti—The First Sunday after Easter

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “As newborn babes” (1 Peter 2: 2)

Misericordias Domini—The Second Sunday after Easter

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “The mercies of the Lord” (Psalm 33: 5–6)

Jubilate—The Third Sunday after Easter

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Joyful shout” (Psalm 66: 1–2)

Cantate—The Fourth Sunday after Easter

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Sing” (Psalm 98:1–2)

Rogate—The Fifth Sunday after Easter

Latin, “Pray”.

As early as the ninth century, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that precede Ascension Day were established as days of prayer, fasting, and worship as a formal means of asking God for a good harvest, protection against natural disasters, and forgiveness of sins. Although the Sunday before Ascension Day was not one of the original Rogation Days, the spirit of the Rogation Days influenced the way in which it was observed. This Sunday is the vestige of that historical practice.

The Ascension of Our Lord

Exaudi—The Sunday after the Ascension / The Sixth Sunday after Easter

Latin, from the Introit Antiphon “Listen” (Psalm 27: 7–9)

Whitsunday—The Feast of Pentecost

Middle English, “White Sunday”; so called probably because of the white robes worn on that day by the newly baptized.

The Christian church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost fifty days (Greek: pentekostē, fiftieth), or seven weeks, after the resurrection of Jesus. Easter Sunday is counted as the first day

Whit Monday—The Monday after Witsunday

The Season of the Church

The Feast of the Holy Trinity

The Sundays after Trinity

There may be as few as twenty-two, and as many as twenty-six Sundays after Trinity, depending on when Easter was celebrated. The Last Sunday after Trinity always uses the propers for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity

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