Sunday, November 16, 2014
When I was about 12 or 13 years old, while listening to the radio, I heard one of the most striking sermons I ever heard. Despite having only heard this sermon once, it has stuck with me to such an extent that I have never been able to read the stories of Ahab, Jezebel, Naboth, the Prophet Elijah, and Jehu, without thinking about that sermon. I could still cite many of the lines from that sermon from memory several decades later.
The other day, I had reason to mention this sermon in a conversation, and then it occurred to me that if I googled some of those lines I might be able to find a recording of it, so that the person I was talking to could hear it for themselves. What I found was amazing in itself.
As it turned out, the title of the Sermon was "Payday Someday", and it was delivered by Robert Green Lee, who was a Southern Baptist preacher of a very different era. He was born in South Carolina in 1886, and passed away in 1978... fairly close to the time I first heard that sermon. It also turned out that he had not preached that sermon on only one occasion -- he had preached it 1,275 times. This sermon was famous... but back in the day before the internet. or electronic mass media, if you wanted to hear a great sermon or speech, you had to either travel to hear it repeated somewhere else, or try to get the speaker to come and repeat it in your area. He preached this sermon all over the country, and in many foreign countries. So not only can you hear this sermon on the Internet, but you can hear several versions of it... and though the content is mostly the same, each sermon has some unique elements to it as well.
What is most striking is how different his speaking style is from what you generally hear today, even in Baptist churches. He uses a lot of alliteration to keep his hearers attention. He paints vivid word pictures. He voice acts the parts of many of the characters in the stories he tells. He fills in the gaps in the story by describing what they must of been thinking or doing at various points. And the combined results are a very vivid recounting of what you find in 1st Kings chapters 21 and 22, and 2nd Kings chapter 9.
I would take issue with some of the things he says, but it is worth listening to just as an oratorical display of a bygone era, and it generally does accurately convey the main points of these passages of Scripture.
On YouTube, there are two versions:
The sound quality is a bit better in this one, but it is 20 minutes shorter, and a little less animated:
This audio version is dated from 1958, and has very good sound quality (and if you only listen to one version, this is the better one I have listened to so far):
Yet another recording is found here:
And there are several more recordings of it posted here, along with recordings of some of his other sermons: