One of the fruits of the liturgical movement in the twentieth century was the wide-scale re-adoption of All Saints’ Day.
As part of the push to highlight Sunday as the preeminent feast and for ‘pastoral’ reasons, the observance of All Saints’ Day in many churches was moved to the Sunday following (or closest to) November 1. The Episcopal Church has allowed All Saints’ Day to be celebrated the Sunday following since the publication of the Book of Common Prayer 1979.
All Saints’ Day may always be observed on the Sunday following November 1, in addition to its observance on the fixed date.
(BCP, Page 15)
Regardless of if a community celebrated the Major Feast on the Sunday following Nov. 1 and Nov. 1, or only on Nov. 1, the same two sets of readings were prescribed:
Another fruit of the liturgical movement is the convergence of the Western eucharistic lectionaries. Speaking of the “second generation” convergence, modeled in the Common Lectionary, Msgr. Fred McManus called this convergence “by far the most successful and practical ecumenical progress in Christian worship since the Second Vatican Council.”
This convergence process reached its fullest flowering in the 1992 Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Like the Common Lectionary (CL), the RCL provides three sets of readings for Sundays (Years A, B, & C) and was created in close dialogue with the Roman Catholic Ordo Lectionum Missae (OLM) and other three-year lectionaries like that of the BCP (called The Lectionary) and the lectionary in the Lutheran Book of Worship.
The CL and RCL lectionaries were created originally by churches that celebrated All Saints’ Day on Sunday. For this reason, they provide three sets of readings for All Saints’ Day, to parallel the three Gospels used to form the liturgical years. This year, Year C, takes as its Gospel text Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. The other two texts are from Daniel 7 and Ephesians 1.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Well, interesting if you’re a liturgy nerd.
As you’re on this website, and you’ve made it this far on this post, I assume you are.
In 2006, The Episcopal Church adopted the RCL as its official lectionary. The legislation included a proviso that the original lectionary continued to be authorized to provide a smooth transition. The pages that were slated for replacement in the BCP were the ones that were the Sundays of the Church Year in The Lectionary pp 889-921, not the entire contents of The Lectionary (889-932).
However, as an Episcopal Priest pointed out to me today, people on social media have noticed that All Saints’ Day is on page 925. That means that, in the words of one commenter, the Custodian of the BCP got ahead of the official authorization of the changes from the General Convention. Was the intent of the resolution adopting the RCL to include the All Saints’ Day readings? I would argue that it was.
But were the readings, in fact, adopted?
That’s an open question.
The problem is compounded when one looks at the propers for All Saints’ Day on page 481 of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, authorized in 2022. There, we see the readings aren’t the RCL readings, but are in fact the readings from The Lectionary:
So, Episcopalians: Which set of readings is your community planning on using tomorrow (and next Sunday)? Do you have a strong opinion on which set is the correct and duly authorized set?