With the sole exception of the 1979 Prayer Book, the Prayer Book pattern has always been two lessons.  With perhaps one additional exception these two lessons have always been Old Testament and New Testament.  The original Daily Office Lectionary of the 16th–19th centuries appointed one chapter per reading (the 1549 Book actually preceding the current English Bible versification), with one exception for Luke 1.  Its Old Testament lessons were continuous between Morning and Evening Prayer, starting with Genesis in January and proceeding in canonical order, albeit leaving Isaiah for the end of the year.  The Gospels and Acts were read three times through in Morning Prayer and the Epistles were read three times through in Evening Prayer.  The books of 1 & 2 Chronicles and Revelation were omitted, as well as substantial portions of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Ezekiel.  Among the Books Called Apocrypha, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) were read in full.  Besides this pattern, there were appointed Old Testament lessons for each Sunday morning and evening in the year, providing a yearly highlight of Old Testament content for the benefit of those who did not attend the Office daily; this started Genesis on Septuagesima Sunday, in accord with pre-reformation practice.

In the 20th century, many Prayer Book Daily Lectionaries switched to being built on the liturgical calendar instead of the secular calendar, a pattern uniquely broken by the 2019 Prayer Book.  The trend had been one of increasing complexity and attention to liturgical time and holy days, to the loss of continuous reading and wide coverage of the Bible.  Thus this Book returns to the simplicity of the first English lectionary, with due consideration for current needs and practice.  In line with evangelical concern for the distinction between the Books Called Apocrypha and the Hebrew Old Testament, the 2019 Daily Lectionary has the smallest coverage of those additional books than any previous Prayer Book.

The dialogue “This is the word of the Lord. / Thanks be to God.” was first introduced into the Prayer Book in 1979, having been imported from the Roman Rite of the Mass.

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