Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons, 1750 to the Present


One hundred sermons that display the victorious, although sometimes painful, historical and spiritual pilgrimage of black people in America.
A groundbreaking anthology, Preaching with Sacred Fire is a unique and powerful work. It captures the stunning diversity of the cultural and historical legacy of African American preaching more than three hundred years in the making. Each sermon, as editors Martha Simmons and Frank A. Thomas reveal, is a work of art and a lesson in ...

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One hundred sermons that display the victorious, although sometimes painful, historical and spiritual pilgrimage of black people in America.
A groundbreaking anthology, Preaching with Sacred Fire is a unique and powerful work. It captures the stunning diversity of the cultural and historical legacy of African American preaching more than three hundred years in the making. Each sermon, as editors Martha Simmons and Frank A. Thomas reveal, is a work of art and a lesson in unmatched rhetoric. The journey through this anthology—which includes selections from Jarena Lee, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Gardner C. Taylor, Vashti McKenzie, and many others—offers a rare view of the unheralded role of the African American preacher in American history.
The collection provides new insights into the underpinnings of the black fight for emancipation and the rise and growth of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Sermons from the first decade of the twenty-first century point toward the future of African American preaching. Biographies of the preachers put their work in the cultural and homiletic context of their periods.
The preachers of these sermons are men and women from a range of faiths, ancestries, and educational backgrounds. They draw on a vast and luminous landscape of poetic language, using metaphor, rhythm, and imagery to communicate with their congregations. What they all have in common is hope, resilience, and sacred fire. “Even during the most difficult and oppressive times,” Simmons and Thomas write in the preface, “the delivery, creativity, charisma, expressivity, fervor, forcefulness, passion, persuasiveness, poise, power, rhetoric, spirit, style, and vision of black preaching gave and gives hope to a community under siege.”
This magnificent work beautifully renders the complexity, spiritual richness, and strength of African American life.

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Editorial Reviews

Brad R. Braxton
“This remarkable anthology brings readers close to the flames of this hope-inspiring religious rhetoric. These sermons warm the heart and ignite deep reflection about the true meaning of freedom.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393058314
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/16/2010
  • Pages: 992
  • Sales rank: 633,760
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha Simmons is the editor of Preaching on the Brink and 9.11.01: African American Leaders Respond to an American Tragedy. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Frank A. Thomas is the author of They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Gardner C. Taylor Taylor, Gardner C.


Introduction 1

1 The Beginnings Of African American Preaching: 1750-1789 13

John Chavis 31

Letter Upon the Doctrine of the Extent of the Atonement of Christ 32

Hosea Easton 45

An Address: Delivered Before the Coloured Population, of Providence Rhode Island on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1828 47

Lemuel Haynes 56

Universal Salvation: A very eminent doctrine; with some Account of the Life and Character of its Author. A Sermon Delivered at Rutland, West Parish in the Year 1805 Lemuel Haynes Haynes, Lemuel 57

John Jea 63

Excerpts of Sermons John Jea Jea, John 65

Absalom Jones 68

A Thanksgiving Sermon, Preached January 1, 1808, In St. Thomas's or the African Episcopal, Church, Philadelphia: on Account of The Abolition of the African Slave Trade, on That Day Congress of the United States 69

John Marrant 76

A Sermon Preached on the 24th Day of June 1789, Being the Festival of St. John the Baptist, at the Request of the Right Worshipful the Grand Master Prince Hall, and the Rest of the Brethen of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Boston 78

George White 90

The Funeral Sermon of Mary Henery 91

2 Social And Religious Emancipation: 1790-1865 97

Richard Allen 105

An Address to those who keep slaves and approve the practice 107

Brother Carper 111

The Shadow of a Great Rock in a Weary Land 112

The River of the Water of Life 117

Alexander Crummell 123

The Destined Superiority of the Negro 124

Frederick Douglass 135

What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July? 137

Jarena Lee 160

Receiving the Call to Preach 163

Zilpha Elaw 166

On Christian Marriage 168

Julia A.J. Foote 171

Women in the Gospel 172

A Threshing Sermon 174

A Word to My Christian Sisters 176

Christian Perfection 178

Nathaniel Paul 181

An Address on the Occasion of the Abolition of Slavery in New-York 182

James William Charles Pennington 189

The Position and Duties of the Colored People 192

Maria W. Stewart 203

Why Sit Ye Here and Die? 204

What If I Am a Woman? 208

Sojourner Truth 217

Keeping the Thing Going While Things Are Stirring 219

Ar'n't I a Woman? 221

3 From Reconstruction To Deconstruction: 1866-1917 223

Harriet A. Cole Baker 228

Behold the Man 229

Richard Harvey Cain 237

All We Ask Is Equal Laws, Equal Legislation, and Equal Rights 238

Richard R. DeBaptiste 247

A Gospel Church 249

William Benjamin Derrick 256

Address to Twenty-third General Conference of the AME Church 257

Elijah John Fisher 262

The Duty of Baptists to Home Missions 264

Garfield T. Haywood 266

A Gospel Message of Hope 267

Lucius H. Holsey 272

The Song of Believers 273

John Jasper 281

De Sun Do Move 282

Emily Christmas Kinch 291

Speech Delivered in Liberty Hall 292

Emauel King Love 295

Emancipation Oration 296

William Henry Moses 303

Understanding the Times and Knowing What to Do 305

Elias Camp Morris 313

Presidential Address to the National Baptist Convention 315

James Preston Poindexter 322

Speech Before the Ohio Baptist Pastor's Union 323

The Crime of Buying and Selling Votes 324

Joseph Charles Price 326

Education and the Race Problem 327

Mary Lena Lewis Tate 339

If We Work Six Days, the Seventh Is the Sabbath 341

Henry McNeal Turner 344

God Is a Negro 347

Samuel Ringgold Ward 349

The Fugitive Slave Bill Speech 350

Character 353

4 World Wars, Freedom Struggles, and Renaissance: 1918-1950 363

William Joseph Seymour 372

Receive Ye the Holy Ghost 375

Noble Drew Ali 378

Divine Warning 379

Excerpts from The Divine Instructions from the Holy Prophet 380

Calvin P. Dixon 383

Who Is Your God 384

J.M. Gates 386

Goodbye to Chain Stores, Part I 387

Pay Your Policy Man 389

Hell Bound Express Train 391

Zora Neale Hurston 392

The Wounds of Jesus 393

Vernon Johns 401

Transfigured Moments 402

James Weldon Johnson 412

The Creation 414

Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 417

Work, Business, and Religion 418

Charles Price Jones 424

The Battle Royal: A Contention for the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints (Jude 25) 426

Charles Harrison Mason 434

The Kaiser in the Light of the Scriptures 436

A.W. Nix 440

The Black Diamond Express to Hell, Parts 1-6 442

Reverdy Cassius Ransom 450

The American Tower of Babel; or, Confusion of Tongues Over the Negro 451

Lizzie Woods Robinson 460

Personal Purity: Advice to Young People and Mothers, Secrets Kept from Children, Facts for Boys and Girls 12 to 20 Years 461

Charles Albert Tindley 467

Heaven's Christmas Tree 468

Lacey Kirk Williams 475

God Ahead for 1926 476

5 Civil Rights and Direct Action: 1951-1968 485

William Holmes Borders 498

Handicapped Lives 499

Timothy Moses Chambers 504

The Measure of a Man 505

C.L. (Clarence Lavaughn) Franklin 509

The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest 511

Martin Luther King Jr 514

I've Been to the Mountaintop 516

Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) 526

The Ballot or the Bullet 528

Joseph Harrison Jackson 545

Great God Our King 547

Benjamin Elijah Mays 562

Eulogy for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 564

Jesse Jai McNeil 569

Days of Waiting 570

Howard Thurman 574

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 576

6 From Black to African American And Beyond: 1969 to The Present 581

Charles Gilchrist Adams 594

Chaos or Creation 595

Charles E. Booth 605

An Uneven Hand 606

Thea Bowman 612

Being a Black Catholic 613

Katie Geneva Cannon 621

Prophets for a New Day 622

Caesar Arthur Walker Clark Sr. 626

The Worms Got Him 627

Johnnie Colemon 634

Dear Enemy, I Love You 636

Claudette A. Copeland 642

"Why Are You Here?" 643

Frederick Joseph Eikerenkoetter 649

Curse Not the Rich 650

Louis Farrakhan 653

Toward a More Perfect Union 655

James Alexander Forbes Jr. 667

Spiritual Renewal: Good News for the Poor 669

Peter J. Gomes 675

Outer Turmoil, Inner Strength 677

Prathia L. Hall 687

Between the Wilderness and a Cliff 689

Barbara C. Harris 695

A Circle of Concern 696

Edward Victor Hill 700

What You Have When You Have Jesus 702

Jesse Louis Jackson 709

Keep Hope Alive 710

Thomas Dexter (T.D.) Jakes 721

The Gathering of America 723

Miles Jerome Jones 736

Dealing with Disciples 737

William Augustus Jones Jr. 746

An Anatomy of Forgiveness 747

Vashti Murphy McKenzie 753

Keep the Pressure On 754

Ella Muriel Pearson Mitchell 761

All Flesh is Eligible! 762

Paul S. Morton Sr. 766

The Enemy Inside Your Mind 767

Otis Moss Jr. 775

A Prophetic Witness in an Anti-Prophetic Age 777

Anna Pauli Murray 782

Male and Female He Created Them 783

Gilbert E. Patterson 789

God's Cure for Racism and Loneliness 791

Frederick K.C. Price 796

How God Sees the Races 798

Samuel DeWitt Proctor 800

The Bottom Line 802

Sandy F. Ray 811

The Testimony of a Towel 812

Frederick G. Sampson II 816

The Death of Hope 818

Manuel L. Scott Sr. 822

Heavenly Grace and Human Response 824

Gardner Calvin Taylor 829

His Own Clothes 831

Renita Weems 837

Not...Yet 838

Jasper Williams Jr. 845

God at the Midnight Ball 847

Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. 853

The Day of Jerusalem's Fall 855

Whooping: The Musicality of African American Preaching Past and Present Martha Simmons Simmons, Martha 864

Other Notable Preachers 885

Bibliography 911

Credits 953

Acknowledgments 958

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