Phillips Brooks (December 13, 1835 – January 23, 1893) was an American Episcopal clergyman and author, long the Rector of Boston’s Trinity Church and briefly Bishop of Massachusetts, and particularly remembered as lyricist of the Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
In the Episcopal liturgical calendar he is remembered on January 23.
Born in Boston, Brooks was descended through his father, William Gray Brooks, from the Rev. John Cotton; through his mother, Mary Ann Phillips, he was a great-grandson of Samuel Phillips, Jr., founder of Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts). Three of Brooks’ five brothers – Frederic, Arthur and John Cotton – were eventually ordained in the Episcopal Church.
In 1877 Brooks published a course of lectures upon preaching, which he had delivered at the theological school of Yale University, and which are an expression of his own experience. In 1879 appeared the Bohlen Lectures on The Influence of Jesus. In 1878 he published his first volume of sermons, and from time to time issued other volumes, including Sermons Preached in English Churches (1883) and “The Candle of the Lord” and Other Sermons (1895).
Today, he is probably best known for authoring the Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. Brooks also introduced Helen Keller to Christianity and to Anne Sullivan.
Books in order of publication:
O Little Town of Bethlehem – 1891
Christmas Everywhere – 1903
Sermons Preached in English Churches – 1911
Lectures on Preaching: The Yale Lectures on Preaching, 1877 – 1978
The Joy of Preaching – 1989
Heart’s-ease – 2011
Addresses by the right reverend Phillips Brooks – 2012
Christ the Life and Light: Lenten Readings – 2015
The new song in heaven – 2015
The First Christmas – 2021