Readings for the Office

Med/Ren Frag. 26, verso:An office lectionary from 12th century Italy.
Smith Med/Ren Frag. 14, recto: An office lectionary from 12th century Switzerland. Plimpton MS 050, f. 11v:Ambrose's commentary on Luke, adapted for liturgical use, from 12th century France.

 An office lectionary contains readings for the office of Matins (also called Nocturns). Medieval Matins services consisted of two or three nocturns (not to be confused with the other name for Matins) that included recited lessons followed by sung responsories. Matins on important feasts and Sundays had three nocturns, while less important feasts and weekdays had only two nocturns. The lessons of the first nocturn were drawn from the Bible, those of the second nocturn from hagiographic or patristic texts, and those of the third nocturn from patristic commentaries on scripture, often taken from a homiliary. The number of lessons in each nocturn varied; on a weekday in winter or a minor feast, a nocturn might contain only a single lesson. On a major feast or on a Sunday, each nocturn would have 3 lessons (in cathedrals) or 4 lessons (in monasteries). Lectionaries follow the order of feasts in the liturgical year. Office lectionaries became less common after the development of the breviary beginning in the twelfth century.

A legendary contains the lives of the saints celebrated in the liturgy. The book's name derives from the Latin legenda ("things to be read"). The legendary could be a source of the hagiographic texts recited in the second nocturn of Matins. Legendaries vary widely in their selection of saints and of texts. While their contents may vary, their order normally follows that of the liturgical year.

Plimpton MS 064, f. 2v: A legendary from 11th century central Italy showing the deeds of saints Cyprian and Justina, who were commemorated on September 26.
a Collection of Saints' Lives from 11th century Spain, originating in the monastery of S. Millan de la Cogolla:
HSA23f. 5: First reading HSA05f. 15: Second reading HSA24f. 52
HSA06f. 54: Beginning, "Vita Sancti Emiliani."

Plimpton MS 055, f. 1v:A homiliary from 9th century France containing a composite text, attributed in the margin to Bede the Venerable, that juxtaposes parts of various homiletic and exegetical texts.

A homiliary contains homilies on the Gospel readings of the day; they were the sermons delivered, often by the bishop, in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages at mass. Excerpts from these texts were read in the third nocturn of Matins.