Phillips Brooks Quotes

Phillips Brooks, 1835 – 1893

Born: 13 December 1835, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 23 January 1893, Boston, Massachusetts

Though both parents came from long-established Puritan families they had joined the Protestant Episcopal Church, four of their six sons would become priests in that denomination. Phillips attended Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard in 1855. He was unsuccessful as a teacher at Boston Latin so entered the Virginia Theological Seminary at Alexandria, Virginia. He was ordained a deacon in 1859 and priest two years later. He was rector at Church of the Advent until 1862, then served the Church of the Holy Trinity until 1869, both of those parishes in Philadelphia. In 1865 he took an extended European vacation and was moved by a visit to the tidy village of Bethlehem, three years later he wrote a poem about it for a Sunday School program and had it set to music by the church organist. That carol was O Little Town of Bethlehem. He was then called to Trinity Church, Boston which was to embark on building a new building and incorporated several important liturgical changes including bringing the altar out from the back wall and eschewing a formal pulpit. The sanctuary, complete with mosaics commissioned after Brooks’ death, has been called “an American Hagia Sophia”, high praise. At six feet, four inches (1.95 m) and 300 pounds (136 kg) he was an imposing man but he had the spirit of a poet rather than a scholar and the sanctuary was routinely filled to hear his sermons, delivered from the chancel steps or a simple lectern. He was elected the sixth bishop of Massachusetts in 1891 but died in 1893, fifteen months after his installation. His feast day in the Episcopal calendar is 23 January.

Phillips Brooks quotes:

As you emphasize your life, you must localize and define it … you cannot do everything.
    Phillips Brooks

Be such a man, and live such a life, that if every man were such as you, and every life a life like yours, this earth would be God’s Paradise.
    Phillips Brooks

Bear with the faults of others as you would have them bear with yours.
    Phillips Brooks

Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
    Phillips Brooks

Christianity helps us face the music even when we don’t like the tune.
    Phillips Brooks

Christmas day is a day of joy and charity. May God make you very rich in both.
    Phillips Brooks

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.
    Phillips Brooks – “Going up to Jerusalem”, Sermons (1886)

Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.
    Phillips Brooks

For greatness after all, in spite of its name, appears to be not so much a certain size as a certain quality in human lives. It may be present in lives whose range is very small.
    Phillips Brooks – Sermons (1879)

Heaven does not make holiness, but holiness makes heaven.
    Phillips Brooks

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.
    Phillips Brooks

Let us beware of losing our enthusiasms. Let us ever glory in something, and strive to retain our admiration for all that would ennoble, and our interest in all that would enrich and beautify our life.
    Phillips Brooks

Life comes before literature, as the material always comes before the work. The hills are full of marble before the world blooms with statues.
    Phillips Brooks – Literature and Life

Never be afraid to bring the transcendent mysteries of our faith, Christ’s life and death and resurrection, to the help of the humblest and commonest of human wants.
    Phillips Brooks

No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.
    Phillips Brooks

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