Church in India publishes New ESV Lectionary

India’s Roman Rite Catholic Bishop’s Conference has published a new Lectionary for use in English-language Masses in India using the English Standard Version.  The following details are available on their Facebook page:

The New English Lectionary will be released on Sunday 16 February 2020 and it will come into effect from Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020 onwards. The old Lectionaries should be replaced with the new Lectionary.

The English Standard Version Catholic Edition (ESVCE) has been used throughout in the new Lectionary. The ESVCE is considered one of the most accurate translations of the Holy Bible in English to the original manuscripts. The Lectionary has been prepared in accordance with the Ordo Lectionum Missae, Editio Typica Altera and according to the Indian Liturgical Calendar, incorporating special readings for Solemnities, Feasts and Memorials of the Indian Saints and votive Masses for our country.

The three volume English Lectionary will be published by the CCBI while the printing and circulation is outsourced to ATC. The Lectionary cost is Rs. 7500/- the prepublication offer is Rs.5000. Postage will be Rs 500/- extra. The prepublication offer of the Lectionary will be available till 31 December, 2019. 

The Book of Gospels will be published along with the Lectionary. The Book of Gospels is also essential for all parishes and provincial house chapels for solemn liturgical celebrations and needs to be carried reverently in the entrance processions so that it may be seen by the faithful participating in the liturgical celebration.

The cost of the Book of Gospels is Rs. 2000/- and the prepublication offer is Rs.1700/- The prepublication offer will be available till 31 December, 2019. Postage will be Rs.100/- extra.

These Liturgical Books are mandatory wherever the Liturgy in English is celebrated.For copies of Lectionary and Book of Gospels contact: Email:; Mobile: +91-9886730224

Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara

Deputy Secretary General

Conference of Catholic Bishops of India

Like their Catholic edition of the ESV, the Lectionary is published by the Asian Trading Corporation in Bangalore. The 3 volume set costs Rs. 7500/- (approximately $105). They are also publishing a matching edition of the Book of Gospels, which will cost Rs. 2000/ (approximately $28). Judging by the picture of its cover, the Book of Gospels seems to be based on the Gospel Book for Kenya prepared by Ignatius Press.  Some more details on the new editions can be found in the latest ATC Catalogue. Here it tells us that “Psalms from Abbey Psalms and Canticles,” which I am presuming means that they will be the Revised Grail translation as it will shortly be published by the USCCB. The Lectionary measures 190mm x 275mm (approximately 7.5” x 11”), which seems a little small to me for a full sized liturgical edition. The Book of Gospels is slightly bigger (230mm x 350mm), although I think the publisher’s claim that this constitutes an “impressive size” is a little exaggerated.

I personally am not a fan of the ESV, but not being fully aware of the liturgical situation in India, I doubt that my opinion counts for much.  I believe that this Lectionary will replace the current RSV edition that they had been using for their English-language liturgies. This was the third edition of that Lectionary published by the Catholic Press in Ranchi, which is copyrighted for 1970, 1997, 2009. I think that they may also have been using a Jerusalem Bible Lectionary. I suppose, on one level, it might make sense to go with the ESV as it is basically a revision of the RSV. Although it is also slightly ironic to note that the same ATS catalogue that advertises the new ESV Lectionary is still promoting an edition of the RSV that they describe as being the “only major modern translation of the Catholic Bible available in standard English.”




14 responses to “Church in India publishes New ESV Lectionary”

  1. Joshua Vas Avatar
    Joshua Vas

    Up until the present, there was an RSV lectionary being used, but the England & Wales JB Lectionary was also widely found – and far more common in certain areas. As I posted back in July on your JB post, the situation with liturgical publishing is very inadequate in India – and this true both for national texts and for those of religious families. A classic example was seen years ago in the publication of the Marian Sacramentary, where the English was absolutely ungrammatical for the national appendix. Unfortunately, this regrettable trend has continued – a pity, given that the facilitiess are available to do an excellent job.

    The ESV Lectionary in India is disappointing on many levels, lacking many elements that make up a Catholic lectionary. Despite it’s claim to follow the OLM2, no incipits are provided (a carry-over from the previous lectionaries). Worse, the cut-and-paste reproduction of the ESV text means that certain passages do not even use a proper noun *once* – leaving a casual reader who hears only pronouns, and has no prior knowledge of the text rather mystified as to the identity of the characters in the pericope.

    This is only at the level of text, and not at the level of liturgical printing, where run-on lines, awkward placements and extremely heavy books are all de rigeur. Unfortunately, the opportunity to sense-line the texts has not been taken, nor the ability for a better and more logical arrangement.

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      There have been rumours that the Bishops of England and Wales would simply import the Indian Lectionary for use in those territories. Quite apart from differences in the calendar, some of the problems Joshua mentions, which would not have occurred under an editor who knew what s/he was doing, would make it highly undesirable for that to happen. .

  2. Nigel Griffin Avatar
    Nigel Griffin

    What news of the long awaited new lectionary for England and Wales?

    1. Alan Johnson Avatar
      Alan Johnson

      Its coming down the line for 2022 at the earliest.

  3. Simon Ho Avatar
    Simon Ho

    I am going to call Joshua Vas to task. Because of his comments, I held out buying the set, but eventually still got a set. So my set of ESV lectionary from ATC finally arrived and was I surprised that they were well produced and I have yet to find evidence of what Joshua Vas said.

    For one, they are all printed in sense lines, set across 3 volumes, and they are of manageable sizes – definitely less bulky than Ignatius Press RSV lectionaries, but not much different from Liturgical Presses offerings.

    The incipits are there, as well as the short sentence “summary” from the OLM printed in italics. And so far I have yet to find hanging pronouns (though I haven’t examined every pericope of course). The print is clear, the font is bold and readable. I think the Catholic Church in India has every reason to be proud of producing such quality liturgical books at a reasonable cost.

    So I am not sure what Joshua Vas was referring to. If he has fabricated a review, I think an apology would be in good order. I would be happy to supply photos to back my points.

    1. Joshua Vas Avatar
      Joshua Vas

      My initial personal review was based upon my use of certain books ‘ad experimentum’  during Masses at a couple of well-known centers in India during a trip there. The director quite proudly told me that that was the lectionary that was soon going to be used across India. After using it at daily Masses, I was less than impressed, to say the least, and jotted down several observations at that time – most of which are reproduced in the scathing review I gave above.

      After reading Simon Ho’s comment above, I ordered my own ATC set (I had not done so myself, because of my previous experience). I have yet to go through it in detail but I would like to tender an apology to all at large, and ATC and prospective purchasers in particular for the highly inaccurate review. I withdraw it in toto since I can see from a cursory glance (as Simon has already pointed out) that several of the most objectionable aspects that I mentioned are clearly not the case. I will post a different review after examining these volumes more thoroughly in the coming weeks.  I would be thankful if it is at all possible for the moderators to place a disclaimer on my previous comment so that others are not mislead.

      Once again, I apologize and thank Simon for having corrected and called me out on this important point. I will be more careful in the future in expressing my reviews, and clearly mention the source of my impressions.

      1. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
        Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

        I have not seen the Indian lectionaries myself. The Asian Trading Corporation (ATC)’s website seems to be down. I have not been able to log in to it for more than a month. They have a FaceBook page, but this has not been updated since before Christmas. The main text of the blog post is based on material from the ATC’s own website before it went offline. But if Joshua or Simon or Paul have any examples from the Indian lectionary that they would like to share with me to update this post, I would be happy to do so. You can find my contact info at

      2. Matthew Hazell Avatar

        @Fr O’Donoghue: If you would like a copy, you should try ordering from – I ordered from there a couple of weeks ago, and, as chance would have it, the three volumes arrived in the post today (for reference, I live in the UK).

        From a cursory glance, there are a number of interesting things, among which are:

        1) where « fratres » is used as part of the incipit in OLM, this is translated as “brethren”, rather than “brothers” or “brothers and sisters”;
        2) the lectionary text and Bible text of Luke 1:28 are different: the ESV-CE Bible text is “Greetings, O highly favoured one, the Lord is with you!”; the ESV-CE lectionary text is “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (the standard ESV text, for reference, is “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!”)
        3) the “Octave of Epiphany” is back, apparently (!), as this is the heading of vol. 1, p. 91, for the weekdays after Epiphany (Jan 7-12)… wishful thinking from the Indian bishops and/or whoever in the CDWDS checked this particular section of the lectionary, perhaps? 🙂

        I am hoping to find some time for a fuller write-up, with pictures, over at NLM in the next few weeks.

      3. Matthew P Hazell Avatar

        (apologies – the above reference in point 3 should be vol. 2, p. 91 – volume 1 is Sundays, volume 2 is weekdays, volume 3 is everything else)

  4. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    And so far I have yet to find hanging pronouns (though I haven’t examined every pericope of course).

    It’s not just about hanging pronouns, either. One of the guiding principles of Lectionary editors who know what they are doing is not to leave unanswered questions in the mind of the listener, and to make each reading as far as possible “self-contained”.

    In practice, this means that a reading which starts “And, after that, he said to them”, which is what you might get if you copied and pasted from the actual biblical text, is begging the question no less than four times. “And” (we’re obviously in the middle of something — wonder what it is?), “after that” (after what?), “he” (who?) “said to them” (who?). All conjunctive tissue needs to be removed, so eliminate And, But, So, Then, Therefore, etc. Persons need spelling out: “Jesus/John the Baptist/Moses/whoever said to his disciples/the Jews/the crowds/whoever else”. You get the idea. It also means that traditional incipits such as “At that time Jesus said to his disciples” need to be modified. At what time, precisely? Simply begin “Jesus said to his disciples”.

    There are readings which begin “Finally” before editing (e,g, 1 Cor 11:-13), and others where “Finally” comes a few lines into the reading (e.g. Philippians 4:6-9). Both indicate that we are reaching the conclusion of a discourse or argument that the listener was not part of, and so the editor needs to remove the “distraction”.

    Acts 2:36-41 begins (ESV): “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus lwhom you crucified.” To edit this properly, you not only have to eliminate the word “therefore”, but preface the sentence with “On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews:” in order to provide a context for what follows. That context-providing principle applies to many Lectionaty readings, possibly even the majority of them.

    All of this is but the tiny tip of a huge iceberg that all Lectionary editors have to carry in their minds. And the same principles apply to anyone reading a scripture extract direct from a bible, rather than a lectionary. You need to edit the scripture for public proclamation, although most lectors are totally unaware that this is part of their responsibility. It should be an integral part of all lector formation.

    There are many other aspects to good Lectionary editing, but hopefully this will give a taste of just one area that is involved and why it takes (and should take!) such a long time to produce a good end-product.

    1. Anthony Hawkins Avatar
      Anthony Hawkins

      I recall in my pre VII childhood, pretty well every Gospel reading began “In illo tempore”. I thought then, and still think, that this was pretty unhelpful.

    2. Matthew Hazell Avatar

      @Paul Inwood:

      Re. 2 Cor. 13:11-13 (which I presume is meant), Phil. 4:6-9, and the word “finally”: you are correct about the first pericope, but mistaken about the second.

      The incipit in the Ordo lectionum Missae for the 2nd reading of Trinity Sunday (Year A), from 2 Corinthians 13, does omit « De cetero » (“Finally”) from the beginning of v. 11, (see OLM, no. 164), so that it starts « Fratres, gaudete, perfecto estote… »

      However, there is no indication in the OLM that « de cetero » is to be omitted from v. 8 of Philippians 4 on the 27th Sunday per annum (Year A). Any necessary changes in the text are given in the OLM (as per no. 124 of the General Introduction). As such a change is not noted, « de cetero » is not to be omitted (see OLM, no. 139; also 740.10, 760.5, 888). The provisions in Liturgiam authenticam 20, 39 and 45(c) are in keeping with this. I would also point out that, as this lection occurs on Sundays as part of the semi-continual reading of this epistle (25A-28A per annum), there is no exegetical, liturgical or homiletic reason why the word “finally” should be omitted from it. Quite the opposite, in fact.

      Lastly, no. 111 of the General Introduction to the OLM indicates that it is decidedly not the lector’s responsibility to “edit” the scriptures in any way.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        Ah yes, Liturgiam Authenticam, that document renowned for its grasp (sic!) of liturgical anthropology, and described by scholar Peter Jeffreys as possibly the most ignorant document ever to be issued by a Roman congregation.

        I think you have missed my point, which is that OLM is a blueprint, not a text whose every jot and tittle can be or should be reproduced in vernacular liturgical celebration. If there is something in the proclamation that stands as an obstacle to people receiving the word of God, it is the duty of a good editor to eliminate it as far as possible.

        As far as lectors themselves editing the scriptures for proclamation is concerned, you may have missed that I specified that this was in the context of reading direct from a bible, not from the Lectionary, where hopefully all the editing will have already been carried out.

  5. Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue Avatar
    Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue

    As promised, I have published a new post with photos that a reader has sent me:

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