Effective Preaching

On Trinity Sunday in May 1782, Simeon was ordained. Though not fully priested he could preach and he started doing so immediately, in St Edward’s church which is just across the street from King’s College. He volunteered as a substitute preacher that summer for an Evangelical, Mr Atkinson, whom Simeon felt ‘came nearer to the truth than anyone else I could hear’. He was very popular there.

Simeon’s first appointment was as Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity Church, against the wishes of the parishioners who had promised the living to the existing curate. They wrote their intentions to the Bishop but in so doing managed to irritate him so that he would not ‘under any circumstances’ have allowed the incumbent to stay, and thus Simeon was set up in his first parish in unwelcoming circumstances. He gave the weekday Lectureship to the incumbent and thus could only preach once a week, and when he did he initially met great resistance in the form of locked doors and boycotts of his sermons.

The tables began to turn when he gave his first University sermon, at the University Church of Great St Mary’s in December, 1786. Many academics attended in order to disrupt his sermon but they all left subdued and impressed, and after that the Holy Trinity parishioners lost ground. Simeon preached often at Great St Mary’s, and to great effect. He preached from notes like the ones shown here and came home afterwards to record what he said, which he claimed helped him to gain ‘accuracy – conciseness – life – spirit’. During his final years it was standing room only when Simeon preached.


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