Vatican Website translation:
92. As regards the readings, the following shall be observed: a) Readings from sacred scripture shall be arranged so that the riches of God’s word may be easily accessible in more abundant measure.
b) Readings excerpted from the works of the fathers, doctors, and ecclesiastical writers shall be better selected.
c) The accounts of martyrdom or the lives of the saints are to accord with the facts of history.
92. Ad lectiones quod attinet, haec serventur:
a) lectio sacrae Scripturae ita ordinetur, ut thesauri verbi divini in pleniore amplitudine expedite adiri possint;
b) lectiones de operibus Patrum, Doctorum et Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum depromendae melius seligantur;
c) Passiones seu vitae Sanctorum fidei historicae reddantur.
Slavishly literal translation:
92. Concerning that which pertains to the readings, these things are to be observed:
a) the reading of sacred Scripture is to be so arranged, that the treasures of the divine words could be found without difficulty in fuller amount;
b) readings drawn from the works of the Fathers, Doctors and ecclesiastical Writers are to be better selected;
c) passions or lives of the Saints are to be rendered with historical accuracy.
The Council Fathers now turn their attention to the lessons, scriptural and extra-scriptural, proclaimed at the various Hours of the Divine Office.
Echoing SC 35.1, SC 92a calls for a more abundant amount of scriptural material to adorn the Liturgy of the Hours. We have already noted that those constructing the post-Vatican II Divine Office chose to distribute the Psalter over four weeks rather than one. This meant that the fundamental “Ordo” of the four-week psalter now distributed scriptural lessons over a four-week period as well. (Note that this fundamental “Ordo” is fairly often modified by readings from the “strong seasons” and from the celebration of various solemnities and feasts, which likewise increase the number of scriptural and devotional readings available to those who pray the Divine Office.)
SC 92b offers a directive for the non-scriptural readings formerly assigned to Matins and now prescribed for the Office of Readings: they are to be “better selected.” The Council Fathers did not detail the principles by which such an improved selection could be implemented and assessed. The coetus a studiis charged with the development of non-scriptural readings for the Office of Readings reached consensus that the readings: a) should offer genuine spiritual help to those praying the Office; b) had to relate to the liturgical season or feast; c) would provide sound teaching in dogma, doctrine, morals and asceticism without becoming too abstract; d) would be drawn primarily from patristic writers, later Doctors of the Church, more recent papal teaching and even conciliar texts; and e) that texts by non-Catholics or living Catholic authors would not appear. The texts also had to be compatible with vernacular translation.
SC 92c directs that the “legenda” of the Saints (literally “things to be read,” but note how the English “legendary” arises from the same linguistic roots, giving some evidence that these readings were recognized as of dubious historical accuracy) were to be examined so that they would conform to accepted standards of historical writing. (It is this same instinct that led to a re-examination of the existence of some presumed saints, e.g. St. Christopher.)
Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss: 1) whether or not the readings provided are of appropriate length and depth for each hour; 2) whether the non-scriptural readings provided for the Office of Readings serve well both as proclaimed when the Hour is celebrated in common or as spiritual reading when celebrated alone; 3) whether excising “legendary” accounts of saints’ lives and passions constricts devotion to these saints.