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Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music offers commentary on Holy Week liturgies

March 4, 2013
Office of Public Affairs

The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is offering a commentary on some of the lectionary texts for Holy Week (March 24-31). This commentary will focus on texts that are linked to the sometimes unintended anti-Judaism which these texts have nourished in Christian liturgy.

The Commission’s work is in response to a resolution of the 2012 General Convention that called upon the SCLM to prepare “materials that assist members of the Church to address Christian anti-Judaism expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts.”  It continues a project first mandated by the 2006 General Convention in Resolution C-001.

“We have now arrived at the time for this project to take form in offering to the Church materials intended as a resource for clergy and laity who may be preaching in Holy Week this year (March 24-31), using the lectionary readings for the current Cycle C,” said the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, SCLM chair. 

Meyers noted that a commentary will be placed on the SCLM Blog dealing with the texts that are generally considered the most problematic. That commentary, she added, will be followed in due course by other commentaries on texts which occur elsewhere during the course of the liturgical year.


Lectionary texts

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has also addressed the inconsistencies between the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which became the Lectionary for the Episcopal Church on Advent 1, 2010, and the Holy Week Liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer.

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music recommends that congregations use the RCL lections during Holy Week 2013.

The 2006 General Convention resolved that “the Revised Common Lectionary shall be the Lectionary of this Church, amending the Lectionary on pp. 889-921 of the Book of Common Prayer,” but did not deal with the resultant inconsistencies of pages within the Book of Common Prayer itself.

General Convention 2012 adopted Resolution A059 calling for the Book of Common Prayer to be revised to resolve the discrepancy between the current Lectionary (as adopted in 2006 and official as of Advent 1 2010) and the Proper Liturgies for Holy Days.

SCLM members and their dioceses are: the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair, Chicago; John Repulski, vice-chair, Michigan; Dr. Derek Olsen, secretary, Maryland;  The Rev. Dr. Paul Carmona, San Diego; Dent Davidson, Chicago; Bishop Thomas Ely, Vermont; Br. Christopher Hamlett, O.P, Southern Virginia; Ana Hernandez, New York; Drew Nathanial Keane, Georgia; Bishop Steven Miller, Milwaukee; Bishop John McKee Sloan, Alabama; the Rev. Dr. Louis Weil, California; and the Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson, Newark.



The RCL lections for Holy Week 2013 follow:


Palm Sunday, BCP pp. 270-273

Liturgy of the Palms: Luke 19: 28-40

Processional Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29

Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 22:14-23:56 or 23:1-49


Maundy Thursday, BCP p. 274

Exodus 12:1-4,(5-10),11-14

Psalm 116:1,10-17

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17,31b-35


The Commission strongly recommends omitting the “Hallelujah!” at the end of Psalm 116 (v. 17).


Good Friday, BCP pp. 276-277

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-25

or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1–19:42


Holy Saturday, BCP p. 283

                                Job 14:1-14

                            or Lamentations 3:1-9,19-24

                                Psalm 31:1-4,15-16

                                1 Peter 4:1-8

                                Matthew 27:57-66

                                or John 19:38-42


Easter Vigil, BCP pp. 288-295

The story of Creation:

Genesis 1:1—2:4a

Psalm 136:1-9,23-26


The Flood:

                                Genesis 7:1-5,11-18;8:6-18,9:8-13

                                Psalm 46


Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac:

                         Genesis 22:1-18

                          Psalm 16


Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea:

                          Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21

                          Canticle 8


God’s Presence in a renewed Israel:

                                Baruch 3:9-15,32—4:4 or

                                Proverbs 8:1-8,19-21;9:4b-6

                                Psalm 19


Salvation offered freely to all:

                                Isaiah 55:1-11

                 &nbs p;              Canticle 9


A new heart and a new spirit:

                                Ezekiel 36:24-28

                                Psalms 42 and 43


The valley of dry bones:

                         Ezekiel 37:1-14

                         Psalm 143


The gathering of God’s people:

                       Zephaniah 3:14-20

                       Psalm 98


At the Eucharist:

                         Romans 6:3-11

                         Psalm 114

Luke 24:1-12



Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music:


The Episcopal Church:



The Episcopal Church: