An eloquent preacher and writer who inspired greatness, Episcopal bishop Phillips Brooks (1835–1893) was born on this day in Boston, Massachusetts, the second of six sons.
With a life dedicated to humanity and faith, he once said: "Life comes before literature, as the material always comes before the work. The hills are full of marble before the world blooms with statues."
In 1865, Brooks gave the eloquent eulogy at Abraham Lincoln's funeral at Philadelphia's Independence Hall. He said Lincoln "vindicated the greatness of real goodness, and the goodness of real greatness."
"It is while you are patiently toiling at the little tasks of life that the meaning and shape of the great whole of life dawn on you," Brooks said.
Brooks is best remembered for writing the lyrics to O Little Town of Bethlehem (1868) while on a trip to the Holy Land. Celebrating the peace and serenity of the special place of Christ's birth, he observed, "Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by." His organist, Lewis Henry Redner, gave music to the beautiful words.
A graduate of Harvard University, minister at Holy Trinity in Philadelphia (1862-1869), and pastor of Boston's thriving Trinity parish until his death, the 6'4" Brooks was a powerful preacher with commanding presence. His sermons inspired throngs of worshipers. "Preaching is the communication of truth through personality," he said, connecting with his audience, heart-to-heart.
"Believe in your own time and place," he said. "There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in."
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