Advent Readings Compared Between Pre-Vatican II Lectionary and the New Roman Missal

I suppose it’s a seasonal thing…

I suppose it’s a seasonal thing. My eldest daughter informed me that a priest friend of hers thought the readings of the current lectionary were just not as scary as those of the older (pre-Vatican II) lectionary.

I hadn’t ever really taken a look, so I’m doing it now.

One of the things we have to remember is that our lectionary now covers a lot more of Scripture than the old one did.

For Sundays, they had one reading. We have two. They also had a psalm and the Gospel reading, as we do. The traditional Mass always ended with the same reading from the Gospel of John, John 1:1-14

Here is a link to a chart of all the Advent readings in the current Lectionary:

Here is a chart of Advent readings in the Missal, pre-Vatican II (from

Material provided by Rev. Felix Just, S.J., at

First Sunday of Advent

Rom 13:11-14a

Luke 21:25-33

Second Sunday of Advent

Rom 15:4-13

Matt 11:2-10

Third Sunday of Advent

Phil 4:4-7

John 1:19b-28

Ember Wednesday in Advent 

Isa 2:2-5  &  Isa 7:10-15

Luke 1:26-38

Ember Friday in Advent 

Isa 11:1-5

Luke 1:39-47

Ember Saturday in Advent

Isa 19:20-22;  Isa 35:1-7;
Isa 40:9-11;  Isa 45:1-8;
Dan 3:47-51, 52-56;  2 Thess 2:1-8

Luke 3:1-6

Fourth Sunday of Advent

1 Cor 4:1-5

Luke 3:1-6

One thing you will notice is that the current lectionary is in a three-year cycle. This means that many more readings fall into the “Advent” category.

Is the overall feeling of Advent different than it was?

It is arguable. Some refer to Advent as a “Little Lent”. We do use a liturgical colour, purple, which is the same, or similar to Lent. We may also diverge from purple or violet to incorporate rose in the second-to-last week of each season. We do not sing the Gloria in either season.

Advent is no longer officially considered a penitential season in the Western Church, although the Eastern Church differs in this.

But are the readings really scarier in the Old Mass?

From what I’m reading, they don’t seem to be. Where does this idea come from?

Well, it’s possible that those familiar with the older form of the Mass are thinking about Propers. Propers are settings of psalms or other scripture readings that would have originally appeared where we often sing an Entrance song or hymn, an Offertory song or hymn, or a Communion song or hymn. Propers largely fell out of use after the promulgation of the new Roman Missal after the Second Vatican Council.

Advent Propers can make you take notice. From the First Sunday of Advent we have psalm 25 begging God not to remember the transgressions of our youth. The Second Sunday of Advent, Psalm 80 says that we have become the taunt of our neighbours and that we’ve drunk tears with our bread. Psalm 85 appears several times with words about anger.

Even then, if you read them in their entirety, a picture emerges of a people about to be comforted and saved.

I can’t see a great deal of difference in the overall feel of the Advent readings. I think as long as we take the readings to heart, we will receive the message offered to us. We must remember that the readings used in the Traditional Mass will be covered in the Ordinary Form Mass at some point. We’ll get the message!

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