A Historic Collection: Sermons from World War I

A Historic Collection: Sermons from World War I

On Saturday 15 August 1914, Reverend Morris Joseph preached from his pulpit, 'We resume our Sabbath Services this week in circumstances all but unparalleled in the history of mankind… The lust to destroy and slay has taken possession of minds hitherto chiefly concerned to heal the hurt of the world, and to set the feet of mankind more firmly on the high-way of progress. It is a terrifying paradox, a cruel blow to our optimism and our most cherished ideals. It makes us doubt the value, the reality of our civilization, the stability of righteousness, the fixity of the purpose of God himself.'

Over the next four years, chaplains and religious leaders across Europe brought comfort, raised morale, and offered a religious perspective to world events: how belief in God can be reconciled with the unprecedented slaughter, the efficacy of prayer from opposing sides, magnanimity in victory and courage in defeat.

Jewish chaplains Conference of the West, St. Quentin, 5 August, 1915, p.47 (Sieg; 2001: 47).
Standing (left to right): Drs. Baerwald, Italiener, Cohn, Lewin, Salzberger.
Sitting (left to right): Drs. Wilde, Baeck, Emil Levy (Jewish Museum, Frankfurt)
Source: Peter Appelbaum, Loyalty Betrayed (Vallentine-Mitchell, 2013), Plate 1
This website offers a collection of sermons preached throughout the Great War set against the cultural, religious and historic context in which they were written. Use the search index to find the sermons of particular preachers or the timeline to see the key events that formed the backdrop to the words.

Jewish • Christian • English • French • German • American


The sermons have been selected by Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein, one of the world's leading scholars in the field of rabbinic sermons.

Rabbi Saperstein is the author of:

Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism Chief Executive, provided the timeline and selected the sermons of Israel Mattuck, having just published a study of his sermons;

The short biographies of the preachers were written by Marc Saperstein and Danny Rich.
The website has been compiled and produced by Sal Giacinto and Laura Lassman.

With many thanks to:


Further Contributions

If you would like to submit a sermon about the War written between 1914 to 1918 - for possible publication on this website - please send a Word document with a short biography of the preacher to contact@religionandwar.org including your contact details and the following metadata:

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