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The Elizabethan Homilies

The Elizabethan Homilies are sermons written by reformers in England during the time of the English church’s reformation and in addition to whatever historical interest they may hold, they serve other and deeper purposes.

  • As a devotional tool, they are wonderful sermons and an encouragement for the Christian.
  • For those who think that the English reformation was merely political—take a look at these sermons.
  • As an academic tool, they provide an insight into the minds of the English reformers, the framers of the Anglican formularies.
Perhaps most importantly, the homilies were a formal part of doctrine and worship for the English church. Consider: the 39 Articles of Religion specifically refer to them in Articles 11 and 35. And the Book of Common Prayer, in the Communion service, directs that after the Epistle, Gospel, and Creed have been read: “Then shall follow the Sermon, or one of the Homilies already set forth, or hereafter to be set forth, by authority.”

The Ordinal, in the service for the Making of Deacons, has the bishop point out that “It appertaineth to the Office of a Deacon, in the Church where he shall be appointed to serve, to assist the Priest in Divine Service, and specially when he ministereth the holy Communion, and to help him in the distribution thereof; and to read Holy Scriptures and Homilies in the Church."

The Books of Homilies were converted to electronic data by Dr. Lancashire of the University of Toronto. I then converted them from SGML to RTF and XHTML.
I am thankful to Dr. Ian Lancashire for the work he and his compatriots have done in making this text freely available to me and thus to us all. If these documents are used for something other than personal study and pleasure, please be sure to properly attribute the source to Dr. Lancashire. For further information, go to the web page at the University of Toronto.

Even with the completion of this stage, the availability of the Elizabethan Homilies is a work in progress. All Scripture references have been carefully checked, as well as references to the Apocrypha. However, references to Patristic and other sources have not yet been checked. Please notify me of any errors you may find.

One final note: I enjoy getting feedback from people all over the world who appreciate having these homilies available. It’s an encouragement to keep the homilies here, so let me know if you find them valuable.

Where to start? I first recommend starting with Dr. Lancashire’s excellent Introduction to the Elizabethan Homilies. After that, read the first homily of the first book “On The Reading Of Scripture: A Fruitful Exhortation To The Reading And Knowledge Of Holy Scripture.” You’ll find that “they will preach.”

Subpages (1): About the Homilies