“A short dictionary for the young preacher”

That is the title of a little pamphlet, originally written in 1945 and republished in 1977. I came across it years ago and just this week managed to get my hands on a copy (10p at the time of publication!). It’s written tongue in cheek and attempts to satirise some of the cliche-ridden preaching that the author was aware of in some church circles.

The author was an unusual Northern Irish Brethren missionary to Japan called Bobby Wright (though he signed himself as Ecclesiastes). As someone who knew what it was to lay his life and livelihood on the line in serving God, I think he was entitled to poke fun at the vocabulary and style of some of his compatriots.

Here is an apostolically-numbered sampling:

  • ‘this scene of time’
  • ‘guilty room and stead’
  • ‘to wend one’s weary way’
  • ‘to be laid aside in a bed of sickness’
  • ‘to mix and mingle’
  • ‘to borrow the language of the passage’
  • ‘to be greatly exercised’
  • ‘this vile scene’
  • ‘sung to sleep with the songs of Zion’
  • ‘the sweetest sound that ever fell on mortal ears’
  • ‘the things of time and sense’
  • ‘to seek to minister’

Do you recognise any of them? Are they still widely in use? Do you ever use them yourself? Are there others that you have heard?



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