Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Further Boreham Book in Pipeline

Reference was made recently to the new book that was due to be printed last Friday. It is entitled, The Chalice of Life and it is described in the posting at this link.

A larger manuscript is being finalized with the title, A Packet of Surprises: The Best Essays and Sermons of F W Boreham.

Publishing progress is being regularly reported at Mike Dalton’s F W Boreham Publishing News site with news (here is the latest at the time of writing) on how you might be able to order a first edition. Mike does so much of the unseen detail in getting the text looking superb and the challenges of negotiating with the printers

To get you excited, I have posted the beautifully symbolic cover on this page, created again by our wonderful designer, Laura Zugzda.

I thought you also might like a preview so I am posting here the preface to the Packet of Surprises:


Selecting the Best
Choosing the best essays of F W Boreham is as excruciating as selecting some children to get the honors and telling the others that they did not make the grade. As mentioned in the preface to The Best Stories of F W Boreham the selection is subjective. But there is some rhyme and reason to the choices. Some were voted in by current Boreham readers so they appear by popular demand. Others are clearly Boreham’s choice or were popular in his day. His biographer, T Howard Crago, reported that ‘The Other Side of the Hill’ (a variation of which was entitled ‘The Sunny Side of the Ranges’, was an address delivered 80 times and ‘The House that Jack Built’ was given 140 times to churches that requested Dr Boreham to give this lecture to their community as a fund raiser.[1]

In compiling this selection an effort has been made to include essays on a range of themes, those which illustrate different homiletical methods and others that are drawn from different periods in Boreham’s career. The sermons, ‘Mind Your Own Business’, ‘He Made as Though’ and ‘A Prophet’s Pilgrimage’ represent extensive reflections on Biblical stories. The chapters entitled, ‘Dominoes’, ‘Please Shut the Gate!’ and ‘I.O.U.’ are fine examples of the way F W Boreham told parables by taking ordinary, everyday objects or expressions and skillfully helped his hearers to discover a deeper truth. The messages on the favorite texts of Catherine Booth, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Abraham Lincoln are representative of the 100+ addresses in the most popular Boreham sermon series that are contained in the five books on the theme, ‘Texts that Made History’. ‘The Squirrel’s Dream’ and ‘Waiting for the Tide’ offer glimpses into the way F W Boreham used paintings to illustrate his themes.

The sermon ‘The Whisper of God’ may at face value have not made the cut in Boreham’s best but it is included because it is the best of his earliest sermons and it illustrates how his preaching changed in style, structure and length. His contemporary, J J North, judged Boreham’s early literary ventures to be “long-worded” because “the terse Boreham had not arrived.”[2] Amid the many admiring reviews, it was said of Boreham’s first volume of sermons, The Whisper of God, that “if illustrations and incidents did not jostle so thickly on the pages and the poetical quotations were remorselessly reduced the sermons would gain much in value.”[3] The Best Essays of F W Boreham demonstrates the way that Boreham worked hard to remodel his writing and preaching through such things as the removal of wordy clutter for it is clear to see the emergence of a simple and flowing style.

Already the terms ‘essay’, ‘sermon’, ‘lecture’ and ‘address’ have been used in this introduction. Some of the chapters in his books are clearly one genre or another but F W Boreham was, as Lindsay Newnham described, the great ‘recycler’ who suited his style to his audience and tweaked his material to fit the allotted time or word limits.[4]

In a review of the book A Bunch of Everlastings, Dr. James Hastings, editor of the famous Dictionary of the Bible, asked a question that many readers have asked: “Is Mr. Boreham able to preach such sermons as these, exactly as they are printed here? Their interest is undoubted and intense. For Mr. Boreham is an artist. Every sermon is constructed. Every thought is in its place, and appropriately expressed. And there are no marks left in the constructing. To the literary student, as to the average reader of sermons, every sermon is literature.” Howard Crago, (whose text was read by F W Boreham) answered, ‘The fact was, of course, that each of these sermons was preached from memory in almost the exact words in which it was printed.’”[5]

Truth through Personality
If the content of these sermons and lectures were word for word the same as what we read in this volume they do not convey fully the total impact of the preaching event—the pausing, the modulation of his voice, the twinkle in the eye and the response of his hearers. Fortunately Howard Crago has recorded this colourful insight into how one of F W Boreham’s addresses was received:

“As time went on and ‘The House That Jack Built’ grew in popularity, the lecturer developed it and perfected its delivery until the whole thing flowed on for more than an hour of fascinating elocution and magnificent eloquence. He himself revelled in reciting it, and the audience enjoyed it to the full while being unconsciously influenced by its gentle suggestiveness.”

“A typical audience-reaction was that of the Rev. C. Bernard Cockett, M.A., who, after hearing the lecture in a Surrey Hills church said, ‘It is not to be wondered at that individuals who appreciate the words of an author are interested in him as a man, lecturer and minister. Therefore, when the Rev. F. W. Boreham's presence was heralded in a Melbourne suburb many people asked, `What is he like?' `Can he speak and preach as well as write?' `Has he personality and originality in the pulpit as well as in the study?' Boreham came-spoke-and conquered! He spoke for an hour; but the minutes passed by on shimmering wings. He speaks quite as well as he writes—the voice is strong and sweet; ringing, yet winning, and the word lives in the message. ‘The House That Jack Built’ was a brilliant drama, staged and performed by the author. And his control of the audience! A happy and original introduction; apposite stories from history, science, and romance, related with telling effect; soft touches on the varying notes of the human soul, making it tremble with childlike laughter, and then a sudden chord of richer music with concentrated and arresting power—while the listener perceives God through smiles.’”

“Moving a vote of thanks at Wangaratta [Victoria], a local farmer expressed a good deal when he said, ‘I enjoyed the lecture because I could see that Mr. Boreham was enjoying it so much himself.’”[6]

Inflaming Passion
These essays and sermons have been brought together not for literary inspection and homiletical interest but so they might speak powerfully to readers in this contemporary age. F W Boreham believed in the importance of heroes, he devoted an entire chapter of his autobiography to two of his preaching models [7] and he encouraged preachers to study evangelistic models to “inflame your devotion.”[8]

But Boreham sounded a warning about copying the style of someone else. Writing on the topic, ‘A troop of apes’, he drew analogies from nature (lyre bird, jays, ostriches and apes) to state that, “life abounds in mimicry” and if our tendency to imitation is so strong and impossible to eradicate, then human beings must select “worthy models.”[9]

Be Yourself
The great hope for this new book is that it might stimulate among its readers one of the major themes of F W Boreham—that each person, with their God-given gifts might develop their unique style:

“He sees as nobody else sees. He must therefore paint or preach or pray or write as nobody else does. He must be himself: must see with his own eyes and utter that vision in the terms of his own personality.”[10]

Dr. Geoff Pound.

Image: Front Cover of A Packet of Surprises: The Best Essays and Sermons of F W Boreham.

[1] T Howard Crago, The Story of F W Boreham (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 172-174.
[2] J J North, New Zealand Baptist, April 1943.
[3] Review of Whisper of God, (n.p., n.d.). This review appears in a cutting that Boreham kept in his own copy of his book Whisper of God.
[4] Lindsay L Newnham, ‘Recycling by Dr F W Boreham’, Our yesterdays 5 (Melbourne: Victorian Baptist Historical Society, 1997), 78.
[5] Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, 179.
[6] Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, 172-173.
[7] F W Boreham, My pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 98-103.
[8] F W Boreham, I forgot to say, 42.
[9] F W Boreham, Mercury, 8 October 1955.
[10] Boreham, Mercury, 9 September 1950.