Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

Different readings on Universalis

Posted by universalis on 13 March 2007

From time to time someone notices that a reading on Universalis is different from a reading in a book or on some other site. I thought I’d gather together the commonest reasons for this happening.

1. Mistakes

It’s possible that I have made a mistake or have typed something in wrongly. This becomes less likely as the years go on, because the readings are generated automatically from a permanent database: so if someone discovered an error back in 1999 and pointed it out, it will have been corrected in 1999 and will never occur again. But I am sure that there are still quite a few mistakes there that no-one has yet noticed or reported! If you think you have found a mistake then please let me know.

Other people can make mistakes too. For instance, this year one reader pointed out a difference between the Office of Readings psalms for the Friday after Ash Wednesday in Universalis (psalm 77(78)) and the printed “St Joseph’s Guide” (psalm 54(55)). In fact psalm 77(78) is used in Advent, Christmastide, Lent and Eastertide, and psalm 54(55) at all other times. The compiler of this year’s St Joseph’s Guide must have thought that Lent started only on the First Sunday of Lent: but both the Latin and the English breviaries agree that Lent starts on Ash Wednesday.

2. Allowable variations

On most saints’ days it is allowable either to use the readings of the saint or the readings of the day. The exceptions are (a) during high seasons such as Advent, when the readings of the day must be used, and (b) when the saint’s day has a high rank (feast or solemnity).

In most cases when there is a choice, Universalis uses the saint’s readings. Quite often parish priests take the opposite approach. This is one of the cases where you may find that Universalis and your priest disagree but both are right.

3. The third, fourth and fifth Mondays in Lent

On the third Sunday in Lent, the Gospel reading is of the Samaritan woman (the “living water” passage from John).

Because of the rule that all Sunday readings should change on a three-year cycle, this reading occurs only in Year A. Because it is such an important reading and should not be omitted even in Years B and C, the Missal contains “alternative readings” for the third week of Lent, which contain exactly this Gospel. It strongly recommends that the alternative readings should be used on one day in the third week in Years B and C, so that the “living water” passage is not forgotten.

Universalis follows this recommendation by using the alternative readings for Monday of the third week of Lent. Other authorities may do it on a different day in that week, or may not do it at all (since it is, after all, only a recommendation).

Exactly the same thing happens in the fourth week of Lent, when the Gospel for Year A is the story of the man born blind (the “I am the light of the world” passage from John), and in the fifth week, when it is the story of the woman caught in adultery.

This is another case where Universalis can disagree with other sources but both can still be right.

43 Responses to “Different readings on Universalis”

  1. Thanks for shedding light on the liturgical options we have during this season. The flexibility and structural framwork give great insight into the Lenten scriptural journey and its possibilities.

  2. Michael S. said

    Thanks. I had been wondering why the USCCB’s daily readings webpages provide both Year C and Year A readings for the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent 2007. Now it makes sense.

  3. Nancy said

    Speaking of “different readings”, is there a possibility that the Office for the Dead will be added to Universalis? I ask because I use it throughout the year…Should the Office of All Souls’ Day be my alternative? Thank you and God bless all at Universalis!

  4. Regina said

    I am wondering about last night’s Night Prayer (Holy Saturday). As I read my one-volume breviary Christian Prayer, we were to pray the “after Evening Prayer II” version (note at the end of Evening Prayer, p. 426), but you start with Psalm 4 which is the “after Evening Prayer I” version. Is this an allowable variation? Am I missing something?

    Thank you so much for this wonderful service.

  5. Tom said

    One other thing about these readings: parishes which observe the Scrutinies for the elect at mass on Sunday will use these cycle A readings rather than the cycle B or C readings. Since our parish chooses to express our unity with the elect by using the cycle A readings consistently at all three weekend masses, when I encounter them at Universalis the following day it will remind me to read the cycle B or C gospels in their place.

    Thanks for the great work.

  6. Yes, Holy Saturday should have Evening Prayer II, not Evening Prayer I. This is a mistake in the Universalis program and I’ll correct it before next year.

  7. David said

    I have a question, and it is unrelated to this blog item, but I can’t figure out any other way of contacting universalis. I am wanting to have access to the office of readings from last week but cannot figure out any way of doing this. (I would like to share the readings from the Church Fathers with a co-worker). If I cannot do this on this site, do you know of another one where I can access these readings in e-format? Thanks!

  8. Regina said

    Thank you for the response. I have another question about this morning’s reading, for morning prayer. You have Romans 13:11-13, my breviary has Acts 13:30-33. Both correct?


  9. Regina, that was a mistake. I’ve corrected it. Thank you for pointing it out!

  10. Anonymous said

    OK, thanks!

  11. Regina said

    Oops, that “Anonymous” was me.

  12. jude said

    The Lord is risen! Allelulia!

    Peace be with you!

    The Office of Reading for Saturday, April 14 in Universalis was for the 3rd Sunday. When there is digression like this, could the reading be included at the top of the page, or even a guide for the month? My current guides are the ones for ST Joseph’s Liturgy of the hours and am using the guides for both the FOUR volume set & the single volume. At this time, my readings are from the single volume.

    Have been using Universalis for a few years now, and as a lay man have been saying the office since mid 1950s.

    Also, I have been tuning into EWTN’s daily readings online.

    Thank you.


    PS thanks for the corrections. They cut down the detective work. 0;)

  13. Regina said

    Dear brother, still today, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, my Christian Prayer indicates to continue repeating the hymns, antiphons, psalms & canticles from the 1st Sunday. Only starting tomorrow morning, Monday of the 2nd week of Easter, it has us use the Week II Psalter. You’ve listed the psalms from Sunday of Week II for today.


  14. Karen said

    Readings begin anew at the start of each cycle. That is why we went back to the readings for week 1 after easter.

  15. Regina, you’re quite right: thank you! The database has been corrected.

  16. jude said

    When the Psalms may differ from those given in the guides, could the antiphones be given also? Today was Monday Week II my guide and Breviary has the 31 Psalm v 1-17, 20-25. Universalis has Psalms 18 (19), 63 (64) & 96 (97). The Antiphons are given with the invitatory, how about with all of the Psalmody?



  17. A lot of people have asked for antiphons for every day. The trouble is that there are thousands of them.

    Yes – some people thought that Monday was the Monday of the 6th week of Eastertide, while others thought that it was the feast of St Matthias the Apostle. Both were right.

  18. jude said


    You then used the Office of Readings for Saint Matthias. Where may we find the alternate reading, e.g. the reading for the feast of the day?



  19. jude said

    Now, we have the Greek Kyrie. A heart felt thank you!

    Does the Breviary in Britain differ from the one in States? If so, sometimes it is refreshing if somewhat confusing ?(.

    AM on another website and a few have responded a thanks for what is presented here.

    God bless
    Pax tecum

  20. csr said

    Can people use your site in public settings, so others won’t have to purchase the LotH?

  21. verbum said

    Is your “Guide” available stateside, as is the “St. Joseph Guide for Christian Prayer” In the US?

  22. Jude – all national Breviaries are (or should be) translations of the Latin one. In practice no-one ever bothers to translate the Latin hymns, they just use their own; but otherwise the content should be the same… except, of course, that one translation into English can easily be different from another.

    Csr – I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean by using the site in public settings.

    Verbum – we don’t publish a “guide”. Universalis contains the actual content of the Liturgy of the Hours, not a guide. The content is the same worldwide except for minor calendar variations, which you can account for by going to the “Local Calendars” page (on the web) or the Calendars menu option (on standalone / downloaded versions).

  23. ppojawa said

    In practice no-one ever bothers to translate the Latin hymns, they just use their own

    In fact, some bother: at least the Polish, Russian and French have Latin hymns translated.
    You can even compare the French and Latin here.

    The Polish breviary also has some Polish hymns written specifically for it, making the ordinary time cycle of hymns longer.

    It’s probably not an easy task to translate the hymns, but I feel it’s worth it.
    Latin expression is really condensed. Even the translations feel special (and good!)
    compared to those original Polish hymns.

  24. Incidentally, if we use these translations, this is precesiley because the official French Liturgy of the Hours does not contain it. And the Latin content of the hymns is so rich that we wanted to use it and understand it well. I think it would really be a good idea to propose all over the world the real content – translated if needed – of the post Vatican II Liber Hymnarius, which is the official Prayer of the Church both from Liturgia Horarum (the official Latin breviary) and the official Antiphonale Romanum (Roma antiphonal), and not only regional expressions of the liturgy that can widely vary from the original….

  25. verbum said

    Please! Can we have antiphons, especially when the Psalm readings may be other than those of the “day.”

    Today’s readings for “Office of Readings” would have us go:
    to Sunday Wk I #2 for Psalm 2 (the first Psalm):
    for Psalm 8, to Feast of Archangels (Sept 29), Wk IV Sat #3, or Wk II Morning #3:
    for Psalm 96, Wk III Mon Morn #3

    It is realized that there are thousands of antiphons, but surely some can be given where the readings may defer for the day.


  26. Verbum: there is no difference from the psalms “of the day”. Friday 14 September was the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, which has its own set of psalms for each hour, including the Office of Readings. The feast has its own antiphons as well.

    I can’t do anything about antiphons until I’ve completed the work of translating the Second Readings. I’m not 100 people!

  27. verbum said

    Can some of us help? If we can spot problems, surely some of us can also supply some of the antiphons and tell where the different readings may be. We can also give alternate histories of some of the feasts, even if the alternate history is in the blog.

    It is said that when work is shared the load is reduced.

    Verbum Domini

  28. verbum said

    Peace & Thank you for inserting the Epistle chapter and verse for Thursday’s scripture reading.

    From whence do we get “Pseudo-Ambrosius” for Friday’s 2nd reading?


  29. The 2nd reading for Friday of the 26th week of the year is from Pseudo-Ambrosius’s tract on the Epistle to the Philippians.

  30. Wolf Paul said

    Just wanted to point out that on Sunday, Nov 11, in the Mass readings, the downloadable version does not give the reference for the First Reading.

  31. Wolf Paul said

    Actually, the reference for the first reading on Nov 11 (mass readings) is missing on the website as well.

  32. numismaddict said

    Wow! Now THAT’s an OLD Saint!!

    Just noticed after completing morning Office that the description of St. Hugh of Lincoln cites his death on “16 November 2000.” He lived a VERY long time, then!

    This is from “Today” from Version 1.16, Database of 26-Jan-2007 (266)on the Palm version of Universalis. Which still runs GREAT on my five year old Tungsten T, by the way. I could not live without it!

    — Rick Thomas
    Pinckney, Michigan
    (praying the office from work at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ann Arbor, Michigan)

  33. Judith said

    I am new to Universalis. please tell me why you use the Jerusalem Bible translation rather than the New American Bible translation since the NAB is that one used on the altars for masses here in the United States.
    Sincere thanks for you all your efforts. J

  34. Judith, the Jerusalem Bible is authorised for use in the UK, where I am.

    I don’t know if the NAB is the only translation authorised in the USA. It’s not unknown for more than one translation to be allowed in a country, though the economics of publishing usually mean that only one is used in practice.

  35. Richard Imgrund said

    The Office of Readings for Friday and Saturday after Ash Wednesday both show the Psalm citation as 76(77), but the actual readings given are Psalms 78:1-39 (RSV) and Psalms 78:40-72.

    I understand that the RSV is approved for use as well in the United States, although I’ve never encountered a liturgy that has used it, more’s the pity.

  36. You’re quite right: the numbers reported are incorrect and I’ll correct them.

  37. Rob said

    Hello from Australia.
    I sometimes print off a copy of the readings when it is my turn for mass readings.
    This helps my to prepare, especially coming to grips with ancient names of cities, towns, and peoples names.
    I can also prepare for natural breaks in the readings, and also places to add emphasis.

    I was “caught out” by the slight differences in the FIRST reading last Sunday, 4th Sunday of Lent, Yr ‘A’.
    Not to worry, The reading went well……….Rob.

  38. Mary Jo said

    Question about the Doxology:
    My understanding is that the doxology has never had the words: ‘world without end’ at the end. Where does this come from? As far as I know (after consulting my Christian Prayer, the St. Joseph Missal, , my professor of liturgical/sacramental theology and several Catholic encyclopedic internet sites) the words of the doxology are: “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever. Amen.”

    Yet in Universalis, the words ‘world without end’ are added. Such words make no sense to me – since this ‘world’ will have an end. And is also seems to be incorrect.

    If I am incorrect, I would appreciate being shown an authoritative source for the additional wording.

    BTW – I (and several of my friends and family members) have become fans of having the web be a resource for the LOH when the comfort of the paper form is not available. Thank you for your work, effort and service. Blessings to you.



  39. In English “world without end” is always used. All the missals and breviaries contain it.

    The Latin is as follows:

    Sicut erat in principio = As it was in the beginning
    et nunc = and now
    et semper = and always
    et in saecula saeculorum = and into ages of ages.

    It appears from your comment that American-language texts omit the final phrase. I’m afraid that Universalis isn’t bilingual yet, so you’ll just have to let your eyes slide past the unexpected words.

    • cathyf said

      In my nearly 5 decades as an American Catholic, in a dozen parishes in a half-dozen dioceses, on both coasts and in the midwest, I have never heard the Glory Be recited as anything other than “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.” I was taught the prayer this way as a small child in California, and my now-teenaged children learned it that way in Catholic-school kindergarten in Illinois. I’ve recited it in a group settings probably tens of thousands of times — the rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, praying before/after church meetings, last week at my daughter’s jr high honors assembly. Every time that I’ve ever heard it used in the US in group prayer it has those words, whether prayed through or antiphonally (leader/response). Even when praying with Protestants at ecumenical prayer services those are the only words I’ve ever used, and the Protestants seem to find them as familiar as the Catholics.

      The variation that Mary Jo has written out I have never heard, and never saw before Universalis. If there are other Americans who have used this prayer in Mary Jo’s version, I would be very interested in knowing where you are and how common it is there.

  40. sandrar said

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  41. Thebhoyblack said


    Firstly thanks for a great app. Secondly, the reading for morning prayer on the third monday of Lent is the same as Evening prayer and according to my hardcopy inaccurate. It’s probably me that has done something wrong with my iPhone! Thanks again.

    • You’re right: sorry about this! The same error affects next Monday as well.

      I’ve corrected the database. The next time that the iPhone version is updated, it will contain the corrections. I can’t say when that will be, but it will probably be in a month or two and it will certainly be before next Lent!

      Please do report anything else you find: it’s probably easiest to use the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of any of the pages on the Universalis site.

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