An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Brooks, Phillips

(Dec. 13, 1835-Jan. 23, 1893). Bishop and celebrated preacher. He was born in Boston and received his B.A. from Harvard in 1855. After receiving his B.D. from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1859, he was ordained deacon on July 1, 1859, and priest on May 27, 1860. Brooks served two pastorates in Philadelphia, one at the Church of the Advent, 1859-1862, and the other at Holy Trinity Church, 1862-1869. While at Holy Trinity he wrote the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” for the children in the Sunday School (see Hymns 78-79, The Hymnal 1982). On Oct. 31, 1869, he became rector of Trinity Church, Boston, and remained there until his consecration to the episcopate. While at Trinity he became recognized as one of the great preachers in American church history. In 1877 he delivered the Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching at the Yale Divinity School. In these lectures he described preaching as “the communication of truth through the personality of the preacher to his brother man.” Brooks was the demonstration of that definition. The truth to be communicated was the Incarnation, that God was in Christ and that God is Christlike. Brooks was consecrated the sixth Bishop of Massachusetts on Oct. 14, 1891. He died in Boston in less than eighteen months. He was a broad church evangelical committed to liturgical openness and inclusivity.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.