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Bishop Phillips Brooks was well known in his life for his preaching. As rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia,  he preached to large congregations. He gave a famous sermon (still well worth a read) on Abraham Lincoln the week after his assasination while his body was visiting Philadelphia.  It is an interesting example of one pastor not only ministered to his own flock during a time of national crisis but to the entire country. Interestingly, he also wrote the words to the well-loved Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” after having served at a Christmas Eve midnight service in  Bethlehem.

Brooks died just 18 months after being consecrated bishop of Massachusetts. He also wrote a book entitled The Joy of  Preaching that was used to teach seminarians on both sides of the Atlantic.His Lyman Beecher lectures on Preaching at Yale (1876 – 1877)  are still considered standard-setting. Here is an excerpt:

“The relation between preacher and congregation is one of the very highest pictures of human companionship that can be seen on earth. Its constant presence has given Christianity, much of its noblest and sweetest color in all ages. It has much of the intimacy of the family, with something of the breadth and dignity that belongs to the State. It is too sacred to be thought of as a contract. It is a union which God joins together for purposes worthy of His care. When it is worthily realized, who can say that it may not stretch beyond the line of death, and they who have been minister and people to each other here be something holy and peculiar to each other in the City of God forever?”  — “Brooks, Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching,” p. 216.

 

He preferred to preach in his academic gown but would vest in surplice and stole when presiding at the Eucharist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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