Using the Revised Common Lectionary

Two forms of Lectionaries

Lectionaries come in two basic forms:

  1. A table of readings which gives the liturgical date and the Scripture references for the texts, or
  2. A full-text edition which prints the Scripture texts from a particular translation of the Bible.

The form provided by the CCT is a table of readings.


Three Year Cycle
The lectionary provides a three-year pattern for the Sunday readings.  Each year is centered on one of the synoptic gospels.  Year A is the year of Matthew, Year B is the year of Mark, and Year C is the year of Luke.  John is read each year, especially in the times around Christmas, Lent, and Easter, and also in the year of Mark, whose gospel is shorter than the others.

Year A always begins on the First Sunday of Advent in years that can be evenly divided by 3 (e.g., 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, etc.).  We are currently in Year C (Advent 2015 through Christ the King in late November 2016).

For more information about each year of the cycle, go to Introducing the Three Years.

The Pattern of Scripture Readings

The basic, weekly pattern of the Revised Common Lectionary is to provide an Old Testament reading, a psalm or biblical canticle response to that reading, a New Testament reading from an epistle or Revelation, and a gospel reading.

From the First Sunday of Advent to Trinity Sunday of each year, the Old Testament reading is closely related to the gospel reading for the day.  From the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday to the last Sunday of the church year, provision has been made for two patterns of reading the Old Testament: a complementary series in which the Old Testament reading is closely related to the gospel reading, and a semicontinuous series in which large portions of the Old Testament are read sequentially week to week.


The numbering of Bible verses in CCT resources follows that used in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Adaptations may be necessary if other versions or translations of the Bible are used.

Deuterocanonical (Apocrypha) Readings

In all places where a reading from the deuterocanonical books (The Apocrypha) is listed, an alternate reading from the canonical Scriptures is also provided.

Negotiating Numbering Systems

Because of the variation in denominational practice with regard to Sunday nomenclature and the variations in the church year with regard to the date of Easter Sunday, two numbering systems are provided. Some churches use the Arabic numbers without brackets which begin on the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany.  This method gives fixed monthly dates (with a six-day cycle) for each set of readings, often called propers. Other churches use the bracketed numbers [-], beginning with the First Sunday after Epiphany.  These sets of readings may be titled “Ordinary Time” or “Lectionary.”  The differing numbers do not indicate differing readings.

To assist all denominations, the dates between which the readings may occur (on the Sundays after Pentecost) are also provided.

Denominational Variances

Some denominations suggest slight revisions to the Revised Common Lectionary based on denominational observances and practices.  Check with the lectionary resources of your denomination for more information.
Adapted from The Revised Common Lectionary: The Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992).  See this resource for more information.