November 23: Thanksgiving Day Sermons (1915-17)

At three successive Thanksgiving Day services (1915-17), Epiphany rector Randolph McKim preached sermons on America’s involvement in World War I. At the end of the war, these sermons plus six others of the era were published together in a booklet entitled For God and Country. The following review of the pamphlet comes from the December 7, 1918 issue of The Living Church.

“Dr. Randolph H. McKim, whose voice and pen have been magnificently lifted for the cause of righteousness and justice since the war began, has gathered into a volume entitled For God and Country a series of nine sermons and addresses on war topics. They begin with a sermon on The National Crisis preached shortly after the Lusitania atrocity. The second is Dr. McKim’s Thanksgiving Day sermon of 1915, when he searchingly asked his Washington congregation, “ Have we done our duty to ourselves? Have we done our duty to mankind?”

“Consider,” he said, “we allowed the neutrality of Belgium to be violated without a word of protest. We saw the country of the Belgians ruined and devastated . . . . We were powerless indeed to stay the hand of violence and cruelty when it seized the throat of poor little Belgium. But it was in our power to lift up our voice before the civilized world against this brutal and unspeakable crime.” This is one of the strongest of the sermons of the first year of the war, and it rings especially true after our experience during the years that have intervened. The third is a splendid address at the first Lusitania anniversary, delivered in Carnegie Hall, New York, in May 1916. The Living Church had the honor of printing the fourth of the papers, an essay on Preparedness, in July 1916. His Thanksgiving Day sermon of 1916 comes next, and then two sermons that were preached immediately before America entered the war, the second on the eve of the assembling of Congress to receive the President’s message asking for a declaration of war. Finally, two inter-war sermons conclude the volume. Dr. McKim’s war papers here gathered give utterance to the voice of the true prophet. He has been during these years an Isaiah to the American people and especially to those at the capital, and now, when victory, with all that has preceded it, has vindicated all of Dr. McKim’s stirring messages, it is great gratification to have this remarkable collection of his remarkable words.”

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