Above: Phillips Brooks
Image in the Public Domain
PHILLIPS BROOKS (DECEMBER 13, 1835-JANUARY 23, 1893)
Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts
Phillips Brooks was one of the most prominent preachers in the United States.
Brooks, born at Boston, Massachusetts, on December 13, 1835, came from a family descended from Puritan divines. A Unitarian minister baptized our saint, but his spiritual formation occurred in The Episcopal Church after his mother converted. Brooks, educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard University (A.B., 1855), taught at the former for a few years. Our saint, recognizing the fact that he was a failure as a teacher, matriculated at Virginia Theological Seminary. Brooks, ordained in 1859, served at the Church of the Advent, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, until 1862, when he became the Rector of Holy Trinity Church in that city. While in the City of Brotherly Love our saint supported the Union cause during the Civil War. On December 24, 1865, during a sabbatical, Brooks attended a service at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Palestine, the Ottoman Empire. Three years later, he wrote the great Christmas carol “Away in a Manger.”
Brooks, who became a prominent national preacher after offering a prayer at Harvard University during a ceremony for Harvard men who died in the service of the United States during the Civil War, became the Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1868. The lifelong bachelor with a magnetic personality preached Christ boldly in the Unitarian stronghold of Boston. His reputation spread far and wide; he preached in front of Queen Victoria during a visit to England and received a D.D. degree from Oxford University in 1885.
Brooks became the Bishop of Massachusetts in 1891. His tenure was brief, for he died suddenly, aged 57 years, on January 23, 1893. One girl, upon hearing of our saint’s death, commented that the angels must be happy.
One can read many of his sermons at archive.org.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 23, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF JOHN KENNETH PFOHL, SR., U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS WIFE, HARRIET ELIZABETH “BESSIE” WHITTINGTON PFOHL, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN; AND THEIR SON, JAMES CHRISTIAN PFOHL, SR., U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN
THE FEAST OF CASPAR FRIEDRICH NACHTENHOFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MUSICIAN, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT OF ROME, BISHOP
THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT
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, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Samuel 3:1-10
—A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)