The Christian Year

Additional Weekday Lectionary: an introduction

The Additional Weekday Lectionary

The Additional Weekday Lectionary provide two readings on a one-year cycle for each day (except for Sundays, Principal Feasts and Principal Holy Days). It is intended particularly for use in those churches and cathedrals which attract occasional rather than regular congregations (e.g. Cathedral Evensong on weekdays). Each of the readings is designed to ‘stand alone’ (i.e., it is complete in itself and will make sense to the worshipper who has not attended on the previous day and who will not be present on the next day). At the same time, however, there is a patterning to many of the weekly sets of readings which is intended to hold the interest of the more regular attender such as a member of a cathedral choir. Whilst the readings naturally vary in length, around ten verses of Scripture was regarded as the optimum length. Passages which are either longer or shorter need to be so in order to retain the sense of the passage. Attention has also been given to the length of the individual verses in some readings and also to the overall length of the two readings.

The tables have been designed to complement rather than replace the existing Weekday Lectionary provision. Thus a church with a regular congregation in the morning and a congregation made up mainly of visitors in the evening would continue to use the Weekday Lectionary in the morning but might choose to use this Additional Weekday Lectionary for Evening Prayer. Psalms are not provided, since the Weekday Lectionary already offers a variety of approaches with regard to psalmody. This Lectionary is not intended for use at the Eucharist; the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is already authorized for that purpose.

Wherever possible, overlaps with the Weekday Lectionary, the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary and the Lectionary for Sundays, Principal Feasts and Holy Days, and Festivals have been avoided. However, because of the complexity of the interconnectedness of these different lectionaries the possibility of overlaps cannot be excluded completely.

The readings proposed in Common Worship: Times and Seasons for 17–23 December (relating to the ‘O Antiphons’, and like them sometimes mysterious and poetical) and the alternative sequence of readings for the period between Ascension Day and Pentecost in the Weekday Lectionary have been used for the periods concerned. If these readings are not judged suitable (for example because the ‘O Antiphons’ are not used) the readings in the existing Weekday Lectionary offer an alternative.

During Seasonal Time effort has been made to pair Old Testament and New Testament readings wherever possible. In the earlier part of the week following Epiphany 2, for example, miracles associated with Elijah are paired with matching passages in Mark. On Thursday to Saturday of that week passages from Acts 10 (Revelation to the Gentiles) are paired with matching Old Testament readings. In the week after Epiphany 3, New Testament passages on the theme of Unity are paired with matching Old Testament readings, and then in the week following Epiphany 4 New Testament passages on the theme of Mission and Evangelism are paired with suitable matching Old Testament readings. This is also true of some of Ordinary Time – for example the four weeks before Advent. In the week following the Fourth Sunday before Advent the New Testament readings focus on the Parables of the Kingdom and the Old Testament passages have been chosen to match them. Then in the third and second weeks before Advent there are selections from the Prophets with matching New Testament readings.

On alternate Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the main period of Ordinary Time some paired readings on the theme of the Supper Discourses (Thursdays), the Passion (Fridays) and the Resurrection (Saturdays) have been used. In these sets the Gospel reading has been taken as the lead passage. In these weeks the New Testament reading for Mondays to Wednesdays has normally been taken from the Epistles rather than from the Gospels or Acts, in order to maintain a balance of coverage of Scripture.

However, many of the important Scriptural readings have no obvious pairing. For much of Ordinary Time, therefore, no attempt has been made to pair readings. Instead, the emphasis has been on maintaining a good coverage of Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments suitable for use in this type of Lectionary. In the Old Testament, for example, story, prophecy and wisdom literature are to be found in the majority of weeks in Ordinary Time. Among the New Testament lections two readings from the epistles normally appear each week, although the days on which these appear vary.

Like Cranmer’s 1549 Lectionary and all subsequent Church of England lectionaries, this lectionary includes readings from the Apocrypha, which Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles describes as ‘other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners’. In the late twentieth century it became customary for Church of England lectionaries to provide a canonical alternative to each reading from the Apocrypha. That has also been done in this Lectionary.

Where do the compilers start when selecting suitable passages when the whole Bible lies before them? One of the starting points has been the readings for Principal Services in the Common Worship Sunday Lectionary (most of which are drawn from the Revised Common Lectionary). Many of these readings are of the right length and successfully stand alone. However, such readings have not normally been allowed to appear in the weeks preceding or following their appearance in the Sunday Lectionary, and many of them are used at a different point of the Liturgical Year altogether from their Sunday appearance. Further suggested pairings have been borrowed from the Consultation on Common Texts’ Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings (Augsburg Fortress, 2005) although the patterning adopted there (anticipating the Sunday’s readings on Thursday to Saturday and building on the Sunday’s readings from Monday to Wednesday) has not been followed here, because the readings are supposed to ‘stand alone’ and it is not assumed that the congregation will hear the Sunday Principal Service readings. Other pairings are wholly original and were devised by members and consultants of the Liturgical Commission.


The Additional Weekday Lectionary is authorized pursuant to Canon B2 of the Canons of the Church of England for use until further resolution of the General Synod.