by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Various Editions of the Catholic Lectionary for Mass

Overview and Abbreviations, in chronological order of publication:

OLM69 = Ordo Lectionum Missae, editio typica. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1969.

USCC69 = Lectionary for Mass. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1969.

USCC70 = Lectionary for Mass: List of Readings and Charts for the Liturgy of the Word. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1969; 2nd edition 1970.

USL70 = Lectionary for Mass: English Translation Approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See. New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1970; also Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970.

OLM81 = Ordo Lectionum Missae, editio typica altera. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1981.

USL98 = Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition. [various publishers], 1998. – Volume I (Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and the Saints).

USL02 = Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition. [various publishers], 2002. – Volumes II-IV:

USL98-02 = an abbreviation sometimes used to refer to all four of the above volumes together..

Further Explanations:

The Latin Ordos (OLM69 and OLM81) do not contain the full biblical texts of all the readings, but only print the biblical references, a brief phrase to be used as a header, and the incipit (the opening words) for each reading. They also explicitly print the prescribed texts for the Psalm Responses and the Alleluia Verses (or "Verses before the Gospel" during Lent). The USCC publications have most of this information in English translation, but they unfortunately do not include the incipits. The full Lectionaries published for use in the United States (USL70 and USL98) contain the biblical texts of all the readings.

OLM69 was officially promulgated by the Vatican "Congregation for Divine Worship" on May 25, 1969. It prescribes all the readings for all Masses celebrated throughout the liturgical year: Sundays, Weekdays, Saints Days, Rituals, Votives, Special Needs and Occasions, etc. It includes the full text (in Latin) for the Psalm Responses and Alleluia Verses, but for the First Readings, Second Readings, and Gospels, it includes only the biblical references, a summary phrase, and the incipit (first words) of each reading, but not the complete text. For the Responsorial Psalms, it clearly indicates which verses are to be included in which strophe. All biblical references are given according to the Vulgate edition of the Bible, with parenthetical remarks if the versification of the Hebrew or Greek Bibles is different from the Vulgate. Nevertheless, there is sometimes ambiguity about exactly where a reading should end, or which words or phrases are to be included, due to minor variations in the wording and versification of the Bible in the various ancient languages and modern editions.

USCC69 and USCC70 are essentially English-language equivalents of OLM69, with translations of the Psalm Responses, Alleluia Verses, and Summary Phrases prepared and copyrighted by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy. Just like the OLM69, they do not contain the full texts of the readings, but were intended as guides for publishers preparing complete Lectionaries using various English translations of the Bible. The first edition was published by the USCC in 1969 and a second edition in 1970, "with revisions indicated by Congregation for Divine Worship 7/24/70." This evidently refers to the "Instruction on Particular Calendars…," which was promulgated not on July 24, but on June 24, 1970 (see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 62 [1970] 651-663).

USL70 contains the full text of all readings, "with the New American Version of sacred scripture from the original languages made by members of the Catholic Biblical Association and sponsored by the Bishop’s Committee of the Division of Religious Education (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine," or what is more commonly known as the New American Bible (NAB). The Catholic Book Publishing Company (CBP) was not the only publisher that immediately produced a complete edition of the Lectionary for use in the United States (Benzinger in New York did so using the Jerusalem Bible translation). But the CBP edition is probably the one most widely used in parishes throughout the USA, and thus was the one used in compiling the following charts.

OLM81 is the official second edition of the "Order of Readings for Mass" in Latin, promulgated on January 21, 1981. It corrected most of the typographical errors of the OLM69, as noted below, but also incorporated many other changes and additions to the Lectionary. OLM81 and the revised Lectionaries based upon it are sometimes referred to as "second generation" liturgical texts.

USL98 and USL02 were published rather long after OLM81, and four years apart, due to many delays in the preparations and approvals needed for the English language editions for use in the United States. USL98-02 follows most of the prescriptions of OLM81, with only a few discrepancies.

Bibles Used by the Various Lectionaries:

Each Lectionary is based on a particular edition or translation of the Bible. In certain biblical books, however, there are significant differences between the ancient Hebrew texts, the ancient Greek texts, the ancient and modern Latin translations, and the modern English translations. Differences exist not only in the exact wording of many passages but also in the chapter and verse numbers assigned to each text (the "versification").

OLM69 is based on the Vulgate (ancient Latin) edition of the Bible, which is very different from the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts, especially in the versification of the Psalms, Sirach, Esther, Tobit, and other biblical books.

OLM81 is based on the Neo-Vulgate edition, which is significantly different from the Vulgate in the wording and versification of some passages; it is often (but not always) closer to the wording and the versification of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles.

USL70 and USL98-02 are based on the New American Bible (NAB), an English translation based on the Hebrew and Greek texts. USL70 closely follows the 1970 NAB edition throughout; USL98-02 uses the 1986 revised New Testament of the NAB, but the text for Old Testament readings is almost the same as in USL70, since the revision of the Old Testament portion of the NAB (which has been in process for many years!) was not yet finished. The English texts printed in USL98-02 sometimes differ slightly from the NAB, since minor changes were made by the USL translation committee and approved by the US Bishops Conference and the Vatican; the biblical references, however, are the same.


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