Pre-Lenten Season

Liturgy We Live
by Dr. Gil Haas

Before the ratification of our current BCP in 1979, Lent was preceded by a three Sunday preparation for Lent called the Pre-Lenten season. Septuagesima Sunday was the first Sunday of the season falling three Sundays before Lent and nine Sundays before Easter (which is today). The name implies preceding Easter by seventy days, but Easter is actually celebrated sixty-four days later. The second and third Sundays of the Pre-Lenten season were Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, respectively. Their names implied sixty and fifty days before Easter, but Sexagesima Sunday preceded Easter by only fifty-seven days. It was only Quinquagesima Sunday that accurately implied that it preceded Easter by fifty days. The dating inaccuracies may have been an approximate backward reckoning from Quinquagesima. The Pre-Lenten season dates from the fifth century in Rome. These Sundays last appeared in our 1928 BCP’s calendar, and purple was their liturgical color. The Pre-Lenten season was suppressed by the RC church in 1969, but these Sundays still persist on the Church of England’s calendar. Our BCP in lieu of the Pre-Lenten season emphasizes the Epiphany season’s themes until the first day of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

If you have a liturgical question or an inquiry about anything that transpires during or around our worship service, please forward the question you would like researched to: [email protected], or drop the question in the offering basin. Please note whether we can credit you as the source of the question.