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Crazy Lectionary Idea

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by The Liturgist, May 19, 2021.

  1. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    I thought about posting this in Traditional Theology, but we have some new members who I think are interested in liturgics, who I am not sure are familiar with that forum.

    I would respectfully ask that if you aren’t familiar with lectionaries or are opposed to them, you post a separate thread and I would be happy to debate you there.

    So moving on, I am somewhat of a lectionary geek, although I am not a huge fan of the 3 year lectionary from which the RCL, which I like even less, was derived. However, I think Year D, a proposed addition developed by a Protestant minister, fixes a lot of the problems, and think all could be solved by using each year for a different service, concurrently, changing each year (year A might be used for a mass on Satuday evening, or Vespers in a Protestant church, B for the first morning mass, or Protestant matins, C for the second morning mass, or the choral Eucharist in a liturgical Protestant setting, and D for Vespers or a Sunday evening mass). The next year this would change to D, A, B, C, and so on. This would introduce some variety to the services, particularly in a Protestant setting, like an Anglican church with Saturday and Sunday evensong, Mattins and Holy Communion, using Rite II of the 1979 BCP for example. Its also given me some ideas for the lectionary at my ministries, which constitute two proto-congregations, although I would bundle two of the lectionaries for each one and alternate every other year (six lessons sounds like a lot, but in the Coptic Church, if the Agpeya is read before the Morning Raising of Incense, and they do Prime, Terce, Sext and Noone, which is common, that’s four Gospel lessons, plus four epistles (one Pauline, one Catholic, one Pastoral, one from Acts) and another Gospel lesson, plus a reading from the Synaxarion. And the Syriac Orthodox Church is somewhat similiar, and the Assyrian church has four lessons (one from the Pentateuch, one from elsewhere in the OT, an epistle and a gospel). Of course, these are one year lectionaries, which I ultimately prefer to the three year lectionary; the only reason I am really considering this is the lessons Rev. Slemmons arranged for his proposed year D are really interesting, and the Schola Cantorum of Peter the Apostle did an excellent three CD recording of hymns, anthems and canticles for Years A, B and C.
     
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  2. Philip_B

    Philip_B grace upon grace Supporter

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    @Liturgist, and here we are nine years since publication, and one hears nothing of this. The Anglican Church of Australia Rerevised the Revised Common Lectionary to provide preachers to preach series based on some of the OT themes. The flip side of course is that sometimes we have readings that really do not inform each other, and leave preachers bewildered trying to explain or contort the readings to a common theme which they may not have. Despite that it is probably the lectionary used in 90% of Australian Anglican Churches. Previously we had been using the RCL and I felt it was a better lectionary to anything we had used previously. It was of course close enough to the Roman Lectionary to provide opportunity to discuss things oecumenically with others including work colleagues from a different ecclesiastical tradition (clearly wester rather than eastern).
     
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  3. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The one thing I do like about the current novus ordo cycle is that we get a wider exposure to the Bible over three years. Well, the other is that the lectionary is used by several different groups so there are actually many kinds of Christians almost on the same page. Aside from those two things I wouldn’t mind going back to a one year lectionary.

    I would need to learn more about this year D thing. Never heard of it before. I sort of like your idea. But does it mean that there would be some readings that would never be heard? Or that it all gets heard within four years?

    I just realized that in places that practice Ascension Thursday Sunday they don’t get the Sunday reading of John 17 any time during the year. I know that’s a tangent but I just realized what I had been missing before I moved. My old diocese observed Ascension Thursday Sunday and my new diocese observes Ascension on Thursday.
     
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  4. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    The problem I see with your proposed bundling, @The Liturgist, is the number of different sermons one would be writing each week (rather than giving the same sermon three or four times).
     
  5. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Hide The Pain

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    Haw haw. Churches that liturgy this deep don’t do sermons.
     
  6. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Umm, yeah, no. We're "deep" enough to work on a lectionary, and sermons are a really important part of our services.
     
  7. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Actually we Catholics do homilies instead of sermons.
     
  8. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Hide The Pain

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    Buzactly
     
  9. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Homily, sermon, preaching, lesson, reflection, address... whatever you want to call it... I'm not wanting to prepare four a week!
     
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  10. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Hide The Pain

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    If it’s just a 5 minute commentary, 2 minutes of which are announcements, it’s no problem.
     
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  11. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    That's certainly not been the custom in any church I've ever been involved with.
     
  12. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Hide The Pain

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    You’ll find it more in Orthodox and Catholic but some Protestants who are allured by the east also think that sermons aren’t all that important.
     
  13. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Maybe that's what you get. I can tell the preparation that goes in to most of the homilies I hear.
     
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  14. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    From Grammarist.com:

    "The words homily and sermon are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference between them. We will examine the definitions of the words homily and sermon, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences."

    "A homily is commentary delivered by a priest or deacon after the reading of scripture. The word homily is frequently used in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran religions. The subject of the homily is the scripture that has been proclaimed during the religious service. It is a discussion of the chosen passage from the Bible. In fact, the word homily is derived from the Greek word homilia, which means conversation."

    "A sermon is a speech or discourse on religion or morals. A sermon may be in reference to a scripture that has been proclaimed during a religious service, but it may also simply be a topic on religion or morals that the speaker chooses to explore. Sermons may also be offered outside of religious services, or may be published as a text. The word sermon is sometimes used to mean a tedious lecture delivered as an admonishment. Sermon is derived from the Latin word sermonem which means speech or discourse."

    So a homily or a tedious lecture? Hmmm. Something connected with the readings or a pet peeve of the sermonizer? Mileage varies.
     
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  15. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    In my context, generally "homily" implies a shorter speech and "sermon" a longer one, and a homily is more likely (but not guaranteed) to be directly related to the gospel reading for the day, whereas the sermon might be related to any of the readings. It would be considered poor form for it not to be based on at least one of the readings, though.

    In general I associate the word "homily" with Eucharistic services, although again this is not a hard and fast rule.

    Oh, and either might be given by either a member of the clergy or a (suitably authorised) lay person.
     
  16. Taodeching

    Taodeching Well-Known Member

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    I have absolutely no idea where you get such an insane idea. I been to Catholic Churches and the homilies are quite a bit longer then a few minutes
     
  17. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    The liturgy for vespers, which precedes the Sunday afternoon liturgy, contains an Old Testament lesson which is taken from the same lectionary as all of the other services but does not have a discrete homily of its own, but instead, contributes to the homily of the main Eucharistic liturgy (and the Vespers lesson happens close to the end) whereas Matins, which prefaces the Saturday morning liturgy, and Compline which sometimes follows the Sunday service if the right people are present in terms of singing ability, also lacks a homily.

    There are scriptural lessons for both, but for Matins, it follows a cycle, usually the seven resurrectional Gospels that are always read at Byzantine Matins, and that lesson is at the beginning, according to the older Byzantine custom (now limited mainly to Slavic and Old Calendarist churches), because if someone misses it, is no great loss. Likewise, Compline has fixed scriptural lessons in accord with Anglican praxis (in fact the service is identical to that of the 1928 Deposited Book, of which there is at least one BBC Radio 3 broadcast on the Internet which is beautiful).

    I’ve never been to a Vespers or Evensong or Compline with a homily (except for Vesperal Divine Liturgies in the Orthodox church, which are primary worship services), nor to a Matins, properly defined with a liturgy; the North American low church Sunday service in a liturgical church like the Methodists and Lutherans can be traced to Ante-Communion.

    The two primary liturgies at present share one lectionary meaning one main 15 minute homily , but on several cases, I have, with the Sunday congregation, which is more eager for high church things, I have inserted into Compline a translation of one of the short, beautiful metrical homilies of St. Ephrem the Syrian and St. Jacob of Sarugh. I also a few times have read St. Jacob’s homily Haw Nurone, which is sung as the communion hymn in the Syriac Orthodox Church in a haunting and beautiful way, during or after Holy Communion, and once, recently,I did that, replaced a litany with a structured prayer called a Qawmo (I called it a “Great Collect” and did not explain it further) and recited a metrical homily of St. Ephrem in Compline, without mentioning it in the Compline. I hinted at the reason however for all of the Syriac Orthodox liturgical content - I was commemorating the 8th anniversary of the start of the persecutions, and so I added a prayer for the persecuted Syriac Christians of the Middle East. And I have inserted material of Coptic origin into the Sunday service when commemorating and praying for them.

    I don’t go into detail on where this stuff comes from or why I am doing it, other than to vaguely suggest its antiquity, which creates a mystique the Sunday congregation enjoys.

    However, I actually want to have two separate 15 minute homilies for the main service, because the Sunday afternoon congregation desires intellectual stimulation, whereas the pastoral needs of the Saturday congregation, which is in an elderly and impoverished area, are different. For that reason, the lessons are read from the old 1980s NIV for both services, even though a fair amount of archaic language permeates the second service.

    My thought with the crazy RCL idea, after having mulled it over, is to make Matins more accessible rather than some random thing we do at the Saturday service, which I don’t think the people get. I don’t think the meaning of the resurrectional Gospels, the Benedicite and the Te Deum Laudamus has gotten through to them, based on the nature of that congregation.

    So my thought is to fix it by turning it into a service consisting of scripture lessons divided by psalms sung from a metrical Psalter. I have a copy of the Psalter the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (which like all Covenanting Reformed Presbyterians, practices a capella exclusive Psalmody, which my denomination practiced back when we were called the Puritans and went around doing barbaric things to people in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; the self-reformation of the Puritans into the Congregationalists I view as a miracle) uses, and its really beautifully done, using familiar hymn tunes.

    So my thought is rather than doing a conventional Matins at all, we will have different people from the congregation read a scripture lesson, and after each set of three, sing congregationally the appointed Psalms. There is an LCMS church in the region which one Sunday a month does a “hymn-sing” instead of the Eucharist and I feel that would also be a success with my Saturday congregation.

    My Sunday afternoon people are looking for more mystery and beauty in worship; my Saturday people are impoverished, in many cases elderly; most are addicted, either to gambling, alcohol, smoking or in some cases drugs, and they are scared people who require love and affirmation. They are also less shy and more enthusiastic about singing than the Sunday people.

    My inspiration for the Matins-replacement is the Byzantine and Coptic Unction service, where (following in the Byzantine Rite, the singing of a canon), for the lighting of each of seven lamps filled with the oil being consecrated, there is a Psalm, an Epistle and a Gospel, followed by a prayer. Sometimes seven priests will do the service, particularly at monasteries. This was one of the first Orthodox services I attended, and I absolutely love the format. A sung psalm, some scripture, and a prayer. I have been toying with that idea for a time, but while resting this evening, it occurred to me to synthesize it with the wacky RCL idea to provide sufficient lessons. If they are so different in ordinary time as to cause confusion, I will try it with the Coptic lectionary instead, which has the same number of Bible verses. Or maybe use lectio continua.

    If the congregational alternative to Matins worked, it would use up ideally three years, and then the fourth one I would preach on. This would free me up to do something more dramatic and better suited to the needs of the Sunday group. I think they would like to hear more curated homilies from the past, for example.

    Actually, there are so many good sermons that have been written, only current events cause me to write new ones, and even then, there are applicable homilies from the past. Bishop Lightfoot did a masterful sermon at York Minster in 1971 on Pontius Pilate which I did use on Maundy Thursday at the Tenebrae, with proper credit, because the church used on Saturday was unavailable that day.

    I do a 15 minute homily or sermon for all services of the Divine Liturgy. That said, when the Divine Office is a separate thing, I never do a sermon for that.

    Also, you obviously haven’t in mind when making that remark a Coptic Orthodox Church in the US. It is true they don’t do homilies at monasteries, but most monasteries do not do homilies, except to read ancient homilies in the refectory or trapeza. Our Copts are the best preachers among the Orthodox, and some of the best in the world. But its a myth that Orthodox and Catholics can’t preach, brought about by people attending services like All Night Vigils or Psalmody where there is no sermon.
     
  18. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Hmm. One of my challenges here is that on the whole, my congregations vote with their feet... and show up in far greater numbers to Eucharistic services than to various other services. So I expect I would struggle to get much attendance to that kind of variety of formats.
     
  19. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Indeed. I have a major gripe about mainline Protestant churches in the US doing sermons that are not well connected with the subject matter. One occasion relayed to me by my father, who was Methodist, I believe involved a Lay Preacher (or Lay Servant as they now call them), but most of those I encountered involved the principle pastor of the parish. The two worst examples were a Methodist elder on Epiphany Sunday delivering what would be a stirring discourse on the virtue of excellence, but which had little to do with either the Baptism of our Lord or the Three Wise Men, and a Finnish interim pastor in the Danish-American town of Solvang (which is beautiful and, having been to both, I can say a visit to Solvang is like a visit to the best parts of Denmark, only with larger automobiles and inferior public transport), at the Lutheran church, speculating during the Easter sermon at length on various controversial questions, such as whether or not our Lord was married. You could hear a collective groan from the congregation, and these people are largely Danish immigrants, from Denmark, and fairly liberal Christians; frankly, If he had read the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom and then seated himself everyone present would have been happier.

    Which I did do by the way for my Sunday congregation on Easter Sunday, and it worked. I did not have to do an exegesis. I also used it as a model for the Paschal service I did for the Saturday congregation, which was tricky as I felt obliged to honor Easter Even and the Resurrection concurrently. I did this by talking, as I like to do, about the mystery of our Lord reposing on the sixth day in a tomb, to be resurrected the next day, and midway through, in between the Old Testament lessons (I added two extra lessons to both services of a prophetic nature), and the rest, I had the congregation sing Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent, and I removed my black tippet and donned a white stole and white cope, and removed black and violet coverings from the altar (I would like to have swapped out the paraments, which is what happens in the Russian Orthodox praxis this is based on, but I would have needed more people). From that point forward everything became joyful. I also added the resurrectional Gospel from St. John to both services due to the well known phenomenon of low attendance at Low Sunday (they must call it Low Sunday for a reason, I figure).
     
  20. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    The trick is you don’t separate them. The Saturday service starte at 10:30 and ends between 11:30 and noon. The Sunday service starts at 5:30 and ends at 7-7:15. That’s how the Orthodox pull off attendance at Matins on Sunday morning, and its also part of the secret sauce of All Night Vigils on Saturday night (that, and the priests prefer to hear confessions then, but for those who can’t make it, that’s why Terce and Sext preface the Russian Orthodox divine liturgy).

    What the Anglicans used to do was Morning Prayer, followed by Litany, followe by Ante-Communion on most Sundays. Rev. Percy Dearmer, who I deeply respect, was critical of this, but I believe his objection was chiefly to the use or Ante-Communion. In Liturgical churches, people like the Eucharist. However, I think the mainstream in Anglican thought was to blame Mattins and the Litany, because at the time Percy Dearmer voiced his opinion, the Liturgical Movement was in its infancy, and Low Church bishops still held all the cards (this was around 1900; by 1920 the situation was inverted, but then occurred some frenetic experimentation and liturgical meddling which prompted a famous angry article by CS Lewis on the need for liturgical stability).

    In the US, the dice settled on a said service at 8, the Eucharist at 10, Mattins a curiosity limited to Low Church parishes, which are rare in most of the US, and Evensong happens in only a few cathedrals.

    In the UK, there is more of the Divine Office in London, however, in most parishes down in the country, it was killed off by a combination of school closures and the end of boys choirs and, inadvertently, by BBC Radio 3 broadcasting services from cathedrals, abbeys, boys schools, the churches at Oxbridge, and the chapels royal able to do services vastly superior to what a typical parish could hope to do.
     
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