I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon, Volume 1, edited by Christian George. Our academic team wrote this post.
Have you ever wondered what Charles Spurgeon, one of the most renowned preachers in history, sounded like?
James Sheridan Knowles, an Irish actor who would have been Spurgeon’s elocution teacher at Stepney College, told his students:
[Spurgeon] is only a boy, but he is the most wonderful preacher in the world. He is absolutely perfect in his oratory; and, beside that, a master in the art of acting. He has nothing to learn from me, or anyone else. He is simply perfect. He knows everything. He can do anything (Autobiography 1:354).
So, what was Spurgeon’s secret? How did the “Prince of Preachers” master the art of public speaking? Here are five tips from Spurgeon’s lecture “On the Voice” (Lectures to My Students 11:117-135).
1. Posture Up
“Do not speak with your hands in your waistcoat pockets so as to contract your lungs, but throw the shoulders back, as public singers do.”
“Do not lean over a desk while speaking, and never hold the head down on the breast while preaching. Upward rather than downward let the body bend.”
“Speak with Your Mouth, Not Your Throat or Nose.”
“Open wide the doors from which such godly truth is to march forth.”
“One of the surest ways to kill yourself is to speak from the throat instead of the mouth.”
“Avoid the use of the nose as an organ of speech, for the best authorities are agreed that it is intended to smell with.”
2. You Don’t Have to Raise Your Voice to Raise the Dead.
“A bell will be heard much further off than a drum; and, very singularly, the more musical a sound is the farther it travels.”
“Lower the voice when suitable even to a whisper; for soft, deliberate, solemn utterances are not only a relief to the ear, but have a great aptitude to reach the heart.”
“Try all methods, from the sledge-hammer to the puff-ball. Be as gentle as a zephyr and as furious as a tornado.”
3. Be Yourself
“Speak softly or loudly, as the emotion of the moment may suggest, and observe no artificial and fanciful rules.”
“I tell you most seriously, that the thing called ‘effect,’ is hateful, because it is untrue, artificial, tricky, and therefore despicable. Never do anything for effect.”
“Be, indeed, just what every common-sense person is in his speech when he talks naturally, pleads vehemently, whispers confidently, appeals plaintively, or publishes distinctly.”
4. Vary Your Voice
“It is not the thumping of the piano which is needed, but the judicious sounding of the best keys.”
“Ink is necessary to write with, but if you upset the ink bottle over the sheet of paper, you convey no meaning thereby, so is it with sound; sound is the ink, but management is needed, not quantity, to produce an intelligible writing upon the ear.”
“In all other matters exercise a rigid discipline until you have mastered your voice, and have it in hand like a well-trained steed.”
“Think of Michael Angelo working for a week without taking off his clothes, and Handel hollowing out every key of his harpsichord, like a spoon, by incessant practice. Gentlemen, after this, never talk of difficulty or weariness.”
For these reasons and many more Charles Spurgeon is known as “The Prince of Preachers.” In February, B&H Academic released volume 1 of The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon, edited by Christian George. Enter here or in the form below by 11:59pm tonight, Wednesday, March 15 for your chance to win 1 of 5 copies.