1) (Liturgical) Psalm verses that were sung or recited without antiphon or refrain before the gospel. Historically, the Tract took the place of the Alleluia during the penitential seasons of Pre-Lent and Lent and at Masses for the dead. The festal character of Easter was expressed when the Alleluia replaced the relatively plain Tract. The BCP simply states that a psalm, hymn, or anthem may follow each reading prior to the gospel at the eucharist (BCP, p. 357). Alleluias are omitted during Lent.
2) (Educational or controversial) Pamphlet or booklet intended to educate the reader or to persuade the reader to a particular viewpoint. Some parishes make a variety of tracts available to parishioners in a “tract rack” that may be located near the entry to the church or a parish building. These tracts may be devoted to particular topics of interest, such as prayer or stewardship. Other tracts may provide a general introduction to the beliefs, practices, history, and customs of the Episcopal Church. Historically, tracts have been used to advance a perspective at a time of controversy. For example, “Tractarians” such as John Henry Newman, Edward B. Pusey, and John Keble published tracts to recall and uphold the catholic tradition of the Church of England.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.