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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893.

Although many know him only as the author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem,"¯ Phillips Brooks was probably the greatest American preacher of the nineteenth century. He was a native of Boston and was educated at Harvard University and Virginia Theological Seminary. He served two churches in Philadelphia and was for twenty-two years the rector of Trinity Church, Boston. He died less than two years after his election as Bishop of Massachusetts.

We have volumes of his sermons and they are certainly excellent, but reading them today one misses their most important ingredient: the warmth and strength of the person who composed and delivered them. Brooks had a real gift for warming the hearts and stimulating the minds of his listeners. James Bryce wrote, "There was no sign of art about his preaching, no touch of self-consciousness. He spoke to his audience as a man might speak to his friend, pouring forth with swift, yet quiet and seldom impassioned, earnestness the thoughts and feelings of his singularly pure and lofty spirit."¯ He preached sound Christian doctrine to listeners who ostensibly had no interest in such"”and he got by with it! Although he was theologically quite orthodox and conservative, he came to be considered a liberal leader in his day simply because of his concern and interest in the social and intellectual issues of the times.

Fill our lips with your truth, O Lord, that we may proclaim the Good News in love and charity. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O everlasting God, you revealed truth to your servant Phillips Brooks, and so formed and molded his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom you call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in your Word, and conform their lives to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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