Lectionary question


I am just curious I know there are three cycles for Sunday and two for weekdays however are their two separate lectionaries (one for Sunday and one for weekdays?) I ask because if you go to the usccb website they have lectionary numbers above each days reading page just curious what that means?


Yes, there are separate lectionaries for Sundays and weekdays. Otherwise they would be rather massive. The numbers you see refer to the readings in the lectionary. Probably the easiest way to get them, though, is from the US bishops’ web site: usccb.org/


The reason is that the publishers can make more money by splitting the Lectionary into several volumes, thereby forcing parishes to buy more books.

They could print single volume versions of the Lectionary (the original 1973 English Lectionary had every reading for every occasion in one book), but they stopped doing it that way, in favor of selling more books.

The numbers on the USCCB site refer to “paragraph numbers” in the Lectionary. Think of it this way: they cannot use page numbers because different printings would have different page numbers (page 52 in the red book, or page 63 in the blue book…etc.) By saying instead “Lectionary number 28” that ensures that everyone can reference the same readings, even though they might have different printings from different publishers.


In Australia there are three volumes of the Lectionary. Volume 1 “Proper of Seasons. Sundays in Ordinary Time.” Volume 2 “Weekdays in Ordinary Time. Proper of Saints. Commons.” Volume 3 “Ritual Celebrations. Masses for Various Needs and Occasions. Votive Masses. Masses for the Dead.” These include the Gospel readings, but there is also another book “The Book of the Gospels”, which only has the Gospel readings.

Some countries also have a “Lectionary for Masses with Children”. The 1973 Directory for Masses with Children has:
“43. If all the readings assigned to the day seem to be unsuited to the capacity of the children, it is permissible to choose readings or a reading either from the Lectionary for Mass or directly from the Bible, but taking into account the liturgical seasons. It is recommneded, moreover, that the individual conferences of bishops see to the composition of lectionaries for Masses with children.”

The readings can be sung and the melody for this in English is in the 2010 Roman Missal. According to the General Introduction to the Lectionary “14. … On occasions when the readings are in Latin, they are to be sung to the melody given in the Ordo cantus Missae.” There is a footnote referring to this 1972 book.

While the Lectionary has a Responsorial Psalm and Acclamation before the Gospel, there are other options for this in two other Latin books: Graduale Simplex and Graduale Romanum. The General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) has: “61. … Instead of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary, there may be sung either the Responsorial Gradual from the Graduale Romanum, or the Responsorial Psalm or the Alleluia Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, as described in these books.” I think there is an approved English “translation” of Graduale Simplex for England, Wales, Australia and Ireland: “The Simple Gradual for Sundays and Holy Days, Revised Edition”, edited by John Ainslie, published April 1970 by Geoffrey Chapman.

Lectionaries I have seen do not have music. The General Introduction to the Lectionary has: “20. As a rule the responsorial psalm should be sung. …” The GIRM has: “61. … It is preferable for the Responsorial Psalm to be sung, at least as far as the people’s response is concerned.” There are many books with different music for singing the Responsorial Psalm and Acclamation Before the Gospel.


A correction to what I wrote above. The Gospels are in a book with the title “Book of Gospels” rather than “The Book of the Gospels”.

closed #6

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.