For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Starting Again

I haven't posted here for over a year, since late 2015. I have been cured of the itch to comment on anything current (or maybe it is merely a chronic illness in temporary remission).

My reason for posting here again is largely to do with an interest in the Sarum office - not with its ceremonial primarily, or as something exotic to be studied, but as something to pray through: as a window, rather than a work of art.

I have therefore added a very brief page (top right), called Sarum Office, primarily so that I can link to a lectionary page on another webpage - alas, I cannot work out how to load files onto the site here, but I can use the webpage to load files and link to them from this site.

The lectionary: a word about that. That is what I want to write a few web log entries about at the moment, in the hope of getting some replies.

The Sarum rite follows a similar pattern to the Roman rite in its Lessons for Matins (Isaiah in Advent etc.), but is generally more sequential, more of a lectio continua. The 1888 Roman Breviary that I have jumps its way through most of Isaiah in Advent, for example, giving one samples of "the best bits", while the Sarum rite runs through a quarter of Isaiah more or less serially and then runs out of space.

One thing we know about the ancient Church is that they read much more Scripture than in the middle ages or than we do, certainly more of the Old Testament at the Mass of the Catechumens, and more at Matins (whenever that office developed). The monastic and Sarum office also provide for a lesson after the Capitular office (after Prime), and probably had lessons with lunch and dinner. The Orthodox also have lessons in their Vesperal liturgy, and then there are the two lessons of Anglican Evensong.

Holy Scripture is a mystery that initiates one into Christ. Reading it with this awareness - that when one speaks the Spirit is uttering the mysteries of the Creating and Sustaining Logos, and of our sacrificed Redeemer - is to listen for a Voice that does not always speak in words that are readily understood. I see no reason why one should not aim to read all of Holy Scripture annually if possible, even if parts of it are not obviously "edifying". If one lengthens the Matins lessons, adds a lesson after Prime, and provides two Lessons for Vespers (Evensong), this becomes close to achievable.

I am in the middle of putting together a lectionary as described. I have followed the traditional Sarum (and Roman) scheme as closely as possible: whatever books are read for traditional Matins for that liturgical season or that month are to be found in my scheme at the same season, but in a more complete form. Other books have been added to the traditional scheme to make up the four daily lessons in this experimental lectionary.

I am going to blog my way through the lectionary as I post and link it to the Sarum Office page, piece by piece. It isn't necessarily finalised and I am revising bits here and there as I use it annually. The purpose of my blogging on this is to think a little about the mystagogical and Christological currents that emerge from putting together various books of Scripture in this way, to illuminate the mystery of redemption that the church is celebrating at particular times of the year. I don't know if the actual result viz. the lectionary I have put together will recommend itself to anyone.

A final word about sources. These include the older Sarum and Roman rites, and also the revised 1928 BCP lectionary. If I were really want to be a student of the typological use of Scripture I suppose I should be looking carefully at the Orthodox office lectionary. I may get around to it eventually, but I haven't thus far.


  1. I believe the original BCP lection read the Old Testament once and the New thrice in the year, and the revised one changed this to NT twice but this time included the Revelation. Had no idea that Matins (Breviary) came close to this so I await developements on the blog.

  2. Well it didn't come close in practice, and left out big chunks of the OT... but I think one can almost get there by adding in the extra lessons as proposed but still keeping the original Matins scheme.


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