Ordinary Time is the foundation of the liturgical year on which the major fasting and feasting seasons build. It is the time shaped around Sunday, which the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar call “the primordial feast day.” Although this season may be called “Ordinary Time,” there is no such thing as an “ordinary” Sunday. Every Sunday is a feast day! As early as the New Testament, Sunday was identified as the day of resurrection and the day of assembly for the Christian community. Throughout its history the Church has maintained the centrality of gathering for the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday.
The Universal Norms observe that the weeks of Ordinary Time do not celebrate a specific “aspect of the mystery of Christ . . . but rather the mystery of Christ is honored in its fullness, especially on Sundays.”
The first part of Ordinary Time falls between the end of the Christmas Season (Monday after the Sunday following January 6) and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The second part begins on the Monday after Pentecost and lasts until Evening Prayer I of the First Sunday of Advent. Ordinary Time begins a semi-continuous reading of a particular Synoptic Gospel. The first reading is usually chosen because of its connection to images and phrases in the assigned Gospel text; the second reading is also semi-continuous but is not linked directly to the Gospel text, though one may often find a connection without forcing the point. In Year B, the Gospel texts are chosen from Mark, with a healthy sprinkling of texts from the Gospel of John.
Many musicians feel a sense of relief when the green vestments appear after the Christmas Season, and they approach the Sundays of Ordinary Time with a desire for the simpler, the less complicated, the more tried-and-true.
(This introduction has been excerpted and adapted from Singing the Year of Grace: A Pastoral Music Resource [NPM Publications, 2009].)