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Book Review

Mark Pryce (compiler and editor)

Literary Companion to the Lectionary

Readings Throughout the Year

ISBN 0 281 05345 6

SPCK, London 2001 9.99

 

Literary Companion for Festivals

Readings for Commemorations Throughout the Year

ISBN 0 281 05560 2

SPCK , London 2003 14.99

(prices at publication of review)

 

Reviewed September 2004; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2004

These two attractive books have short readings, usually one or two sides of a page, for various days in the year.  The Companion to the Lectionary, with a foreword by Rowan Williams, covers the Sundays and principal feasts of the liturgical years, and relates to the Revised Common Lectionary and the Common Worship Lectionary.  Occasionally there is more than one reading for a day.  On some Sundays the variety of themes over the three-year cycle means that the readings relate to one of the three years.  The Companion for Festivals, with a foreword by Walter Brueggeman, covers a wide assortment of feasts and personalities.  Many familiar canonised saints are here but also Janani Luwum, Studdert Kennedy, Melanchthon, King Alfred, Johann Sebastian Bach, Samuel Seabury, Nikolai Grundtvig and Samuel Johnson, to mention only a sample.

The readings, like the personalities, have a good mixture of the familiar and the new.  There is much beauty here, and much insight.  Most passages are poetry, but there is prose too.  Some modern authors are Ben Okri, Dorothy Parker, Shusaku Endo, Alice Walker, Vaclav Havel and D.H.Lawrence, but there are also translations from the Fathers and from Anglo-Saxon.  The range of sources crosses centuries and continents, and is likely to introduce some new writers to most of us.  The books set out to use literature 'to nourish prayer and inspire praise' and 'to recognise the divine at play in the world'.  In today's world we can be glad of such help.

Gillian Clare OSC

 

 

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