New Lectionary to be launched in England and Wales for Advent 2024

The Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has confirmed the approval by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the new Lectionary. 

The Lectionary, which includes the scripture readings for Mass and the sacraments, will come into use in Catholic parishes in England and Wales from Advent 2024.  

Cardinal Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Dicastery, wrote to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference, confirming the new translation of the Lectionary, which has been done in collaboration with the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.  

He said: 

“The use of the English Standard Version – Catholic Edition, already in use in India, along with the Abbey Psalms and Canticles will help to ensure that the Word of the Lord reaches God’s holy people without alloy. 

“The collaboration of the Episcopal Conference with the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland is another notable feature of this project which highlights the importance of different episcopal conferences within a small geographical area working together for the overall good of the Catholic population in the British Isles.  

“What has now been achieved ensures that a stable version of the Lectionary will endure in Great Britain for years to come. Both Conferences are to be commended for this cooperation.” 

The Lectionary was revised after the Second Vatican Council. Paragraph 51 of Second Vatican Council document Sacrosanctum Concilium said: “The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word.” 

Archbishop Emeritus George Stack of Cardiff, Chair of the Department for Christian Life and Worship, welcomed the dicastery’s ‘confirmatio’ for the Lectionary:  

“As we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council we can see that the Lectionary is one of the great fruits of the Council. It fulfils the mandate of the Council Fathers to open up the scriptures for the faithful so that Sunday by Sunday Christ himself speaks to us in the word.  

“The new Lectionary gives us an opportunity to hear that word with fresh ears as we engage with a text which is intended for public proclamation and reflects up to date biblical scholarship.  

“I hope that parishes and other communities will engage in preparation for the Lectionary so that all the faithful will hear the word of God with deepened faith and understanding.” 

The Lectionary will be in use from Advent 2024 and will be published by the Catholic Truth Society (CTS). 

Mass for His Majesty King Charles III on his Coronation

The Bishops’ Conference requests that on Friday 5 May 2023 each parish celebrates Mass for His Majesty the King to mark his Coronation. At the end of Mass (after the Prayer after Communion and before the Final Blessing) the Prayer for the King is said. Parishes may also wish to sing a hymn of thanksgiving (the Te Deum or other hymn) followed by the chant Domine, salvum fac and/or the National Anthem.

At Sunday Masses on 7 May parishes may wish to include an intention for the King and the Royal Family in the Prayer of the Faithful and at the end of Mass say the Prayer for the King followed by the chant Domine, salvum fac and/or the National Anthem.

The Bishops’ Conference has also produced a Prayer Card for Coronation of King Charles III and ask that from Wednesday 3 May until Friday 5 May each Catholic in our lands pray for His Majesty and the Queen.

Calendar Notes 2024

The annual Calendar Notes are now available. They cover the liturgical year 2023-24 and highlight all the important dates and any significant changes to the calendar or to the Cycle of Prayer. At the same time draft Calendar Notes are provided for 2024-25.

Calendar Notes

Novena for the Repose of the Soul of Pope Benedict

Following the funeral of a Pope it is the custom that nine days (Novemdiales) of official mourning are marked in Rome and throughout the Church.

In addition to the celebration of Mass, Bishops may encourage for the intention of his soul:

  • The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours,
  • Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and other devotions,
  • Opportunities to learn and reflect on the writings of Pope Benedict,
  • Works of mercy and care for the poor and most vulnerable.
  • The nine days may also be observed with a Novena of prayer.

Prayers are taken from the Roman Missal, except where indicated. The scripture readings include those chosen for the Funeral of Pope Benedict.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

To mark the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen the Bishops’ Conference asks that, at all Sunday Masses on 4–5 June 2022, each parish prays for the Queen by including an intention in the Prayer of the Faithful and by reciting at the end of Mass (after the Prayer after Communion and before the Final Blessing) the Prayer for the Queen.

Calendar Notes 2023

The annual Calendar Notes are now available. They cover the liturgical year 2022-23 and highlight all the important dates and any significant changes to the calendar or to the Cycle of Prayer. At the same time draft Calendar Notes are provided for 2023-24

Liturgical Calendar 2021-2022

The monthly Calendar pages for the liturgical year 2021-22 are now uploaded onto the Liturgy Office website

For those who interested by such things there is the coincidence of a pair of liturgical dates which has not happened since the revision of the Calendar after the Second Vatican Council and was not foreseen in the norms for calendars. In 2022 the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on Friday 24 June which is usually the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. The Congregation for Divine Worship has issued guidance and the Sacred Heart will be celebrated on Friday 24 and the Nativity of St John the Baptist is transferred to Thursday 23 June. Further details can be found in the annual Calendar Notes. There are also details there of what is done in 2022 where a Solemnity is celebrated on a Saturday for Evening Prayer and Mass in the evening.

A developing feature of the website are the Sanctoral pages which provide information about the celebration of the Proper of Saints. Included here are the details, and where available texts, for new celebrations which have been added to the Calendar. A number of celebrations were added recently and links to them are included in the monthly pages. These include:

In addition approved English texts are available for:

The Sanctoral section is work in progress. It will include additional material as it becomes available but the majority of the celebrations will not be considered until after the Lectionary is published.

St John XXIII & St John Paul II – Liturgical texts

The English translation of the liturgical texts for St John XXIII on 11 October and St John Paul II on 22 October have received the confirmatio of the Holy See and are now available for download from the Liturgy Office website:

Also received from the Holy See were the texts for the Feast of St Mary Magdalene including the new Preface.

Ash Wednesday – Praying at Home

For the first Lockdown last March the Liturgy Office and members of the Spirituality Committee produced material to help people pray at home during Lent, Triduum and Easter.

That material will be available again but here are two resources for Ash Wednesday which follow the pattern of last year’s material:

Praying at Home

A short time of prayer for families or individuals.

Praying at Home – Ash Wednesday

the PDF has two formats – A5 and A4 folded

A Mini-Retreat

Ideas for praying through the Day

The New Lectionary for England and Wales

For a number of years the Bishops of England and Wales have been considering the publication of a new edition of the Lectionary to replace that originally published in the year 1969 and second edition in 1981. After consultation with a number of English speaking Conferences of Bishops, the Bishops of England and Wales studied the translation of the Catholic Edition of the English Standard Version of the Bible produced by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. From this text they have produced for the Church in India a Lectionary which has received ‘confirmatio’ by the Holy See.

The English Standard Version: Catholic Edition is seen as fulfilling the qualities the Church seeks when considering a translation of scripture namely: 

  • The evaluation and use of source material;
  • Accuracy of translation which conveys the meaning of the biblical authors;
  • Dignity and accessibility of language needed for a worthy proclamation of the Word of God.

 The Bishops of England and Wales agreed in November 2018 that this text should be the basis for the new edition of the Lectionary to be used in their territory. 

Significant elements of the Lectionary are contained in the psalms which are used in response to the readings. Noticeable work has recently been concluded on the revision of the Grail Psalms. This revision sought to reflect developments in the understanding of the texts, avoiding paraphrase whilst maintaining the poetry and rhythm of the psalter. The text was finalised last year and published by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops under the title of Abbey Psalms and Canticles. This volume will form not just the text for the psalms and canticles in the Lectionary but also  future liturgical books, such as the Liturgy of the Hours.

Since the beginning of 2020, the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales has been preparing the text of the new Lectionary using the English Standard Version: Catholic Edition, together with the Abbey Psalms and Canticles.  As the work has progressed, the bishops have received completed sections every two weeks for their review and comment. The first of these were the texts for Sundays and Solemnities of Advent and Christmas.

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland announced in July 2020 that they had also chosen the English Standard Version: Catholic Edition for the Lectionary. Since then, they have made an invaluable contribution to the comments and review of the text and enhanced the work of the Editorial Committee.

The Bishops of England and Wales received the first completed volume of the Lectionary at their Plenary meeting in November 2020. This volume consists of Sundays, Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord. Many bishops have spoken of their gratitude for the work undertaken in producing the translation. Work is continuing on the second volume and the text of the Weekdays in Ordinary Time will be presented to the bishops at their Spring Plenary meeting in April 2021.

Archbishop George Stack, Chair of the Department of Christian Life and Worship, said “The work of a new Edition of the Lectionary will be a gift to the Church in England and Wales. It will deepen the understanding and love of the scriptures by the People of God. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI it is indispensable that the word of God ‘be ever more fully understood at the heart of every ecclesial activity’.” (Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini)       

The Sunday of the Word of God
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
24 January 2021

Lectionary FAQs

What is a Catholic edition of the Bible?

There are a number of characteristics of a Catholic edition:

  • It includes the deuterocanonical books. These are texts in the Old Testament where there is an ancient Greek Jewish source but not a Hebrew one. These include Tobit, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch. They have always been accepted by the Catholic Church as part of the Canon of Scripture.
  • The translation reflects  Catholic understanding of scripture.
  • The translation has received an imprimatur from a Bishops’ Conference.
  • There should be study notes to assist the reader.

What is the English Standard Version: Catholic Edition?

The English Standard Version is the latest in a series of English translations which go back to the 16th Century. These translations have all been based on a ‘word for word’ principle. The ESV is directly based on the Revised Standard Version and it is suggested that c. 6% of the text has been revised. Changes were made to modernise the language and reflect the latest scholarship. The publisher Crossway emphasis­es ‘word-for-word’ accuracy, literary excellence and depth of meaning.

Work on the Catholic Edition was done by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in collaboration with Crossway.

What is the Abbey Psalms and Canticles?

The Grail Psalms have been part of Liturgy in English since before the Second Vatican Council. They are used in both the Lectionary and the Divine Office.

In 2008 a revision of the text was undertaken by the monks of Conception Abbey, Missouri. It sought to bring the latest scholarly understanding of the text and to review the text where the English was essentially a paraphrase of the Hebrew. This text was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2010. A further revision in the light of use was prepared and approved both by USCCB and CBCEW, and has received the confirmatio of the Holy See. This text is now owned by USCCB who have renamed it Abbey Psalms and Canticles both in recognition of the work of Conception Abbey and also so that there was clarity about the edition being used. This text will be used in the Lectionary and in subsequent liturgical books, such as the Liturgy of the Hours.

How is the Lectionary being prepared?

The Lectionary is a liturgical book. Its basis, therefore, is a Latin editio typica which provides the common text used by the whole Church. Unlike other liturgical books where there is a text to be translated the Ordo Lectionum Missae(OLM) is a collection of references and texts . For each reading there is a scripture reference, the heading and the incipit (how the reading begins) in Latin, for the psalms the reference for the verses and the text of the response, similarly for the Gospel Acclamation. All of these texts in Latin are to be translated, though usually they are drawn from the scriptural text.

The initial task is therefore to compile, edit and lay out the readings etc. with reference to OLM drawing the readings from the ESV and the psalms from the APC. This editorial work will throw up some issues of translation or meaning. For example, in a few cases the verse where the reading begins makes sense in the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible which is OLM’s reference point) but not in the ESV – perhaps it is mid-sentence and so part of the preceding verse might be added. These editorial issues are reviewed by the Editorial Committee, appointed by the Department for Christian Life and Worship. 

The whole text has been divided into about 25 sections and a section is sent out to bishops for review and comment every two weeks. The first to be sent out, in Spring 2020, was Sundays and Solemnities of Advent and Christmas. The comments received are reviewed by the Editorial Committee.

Once a group of sections has been completed it is compiled into a single text. The first was Sundays, Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord. It was reviewed at the November 2020 Plenary of the Bishops’ Conference and received an initial vote. The second will be Weekdays which will be presented at the Spring 2020 Plenary.

Are there changes to the readings?

This is a new publication of the Lectionary using different scripture translations — the content remains the same. 

What is new?

There will be provision for Saints who have been inserted into the Universal Calendar since the last Lectionary was published in 1981. There will also be the readings for the National Calendars. In addition, some of the revised liturgical rites, such as Marriage, have additional readings.

Will the text be mandatory?

It is normal practice in the Roman Rite that there is only a single edition of a liturgical text in use in a particular territory. So in the same way as only the third edition of the Roman Missal (2010) may be used in the celebration of Mass (in the Ordinary Form), the same will be true for the Lectionary.

Who will be publishing the Lectionary?

The Catholic Truth Society have been appointed publishers for the Lectionary. They are working closely with the bishops to ensure that the published volumes are worthy, clear in page layout, sturdy and reflect the daily needs of the liturgy.

When will the Lectionary published?

It is expected that the bishops will complete their approval process in Autumn 2021. The text will then need to be reviewed by the Holy See and others. The earliest date for publication would therefore be in 2022. It will be important that People’s Missals and other ancillary material are available at the time of publication.

How many volumes?

The current Lectionary (1981) is in 3 volumes. One significant change in the layout is that all the readings will be given in sense lines as an assistance to the reader. This is recommended in the Introduction to the Lectionary and is common to most recent publications of the Lectionary. The effect is that readings do require more space and this means more pages. It has not yet been decided how many volumes will be published. It is recognised that they need to be manageable and not too large, the contents to be clear and to avoid too much repetition of texts.

Is there a revision of the Liturgy of the Hours as well?

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is responsible for translating the Latin liturgical texts for the English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences. It was approached by USCCB to assist in a new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. Broadly this work can be divided into 3 areas: Psalms and Canticles; Scripture and scripture-based texts; other texts. The Abbey Psalms and Canticles will provide the first area. Other texts are being translated by ICEL — these include the hymns, many of which have not been available before, and the intercessions. The USCCB is using their own scripture version as the basis of readings and texts. As this version is not shared by other Conferences it is likely that an alternative will be considered. This vast project has been in progress for a number of years with the Bishops of England and Wales receiving, commenting and voting on the material which has been prepared by ICEL. There is not currently an estimated date for publication.

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