Thomas H. Troeger, who began teaching preaching at Illif School of Theology and became Lantz Professor emeritus of Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music, died Sunday, April 3, 2022 after a long illness. Troeger wrote 24 books in the genres of preaching, poetry, hymnody, and worship. Tom’s most recent books include: Song that Blesses Earth: Hymn Texts, Carols, and Poems and A Sermon Workbook: Exercises in the Art and Craft of Preaching (with Nora Tubbs Tisdale); Music as Prayer: The Theology and Practice of Church Music. He was also a flutist and a poet whose work appears in the hymnals of most denominations and is frequently set as choral anthems. Professor Troeger earned a B.A. Yale University and B.D. Colgate Rochester Divinity School. In 2014 the University of Basel, Switzerland, awarded him an honorary doctorate in theology for his international work in homiletics and his development of “a contemporary religious language which does justice to both aesthetic and theological demands.”
Abingdon Press Associate Publisher, Dr. Paul Franklyn remembers Toeger’s important Abingdon book, Imagining a Sermon, with these thoughts:
Tom Troeger will be remembered as a great Abingdon author, hymn writer, and Presbyterian teacher. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Homiletics and a leading Protestant voice in the Catholic North American Academy of Liturgy. He defined and taught the methods and skills needed for creativity and imagination in preaching and worship. He is considered one of the top five twentieth-century hymn writers, and he published several books of hymns with Oxford University Press. Tom’s hymn, “Silence! Frenzied Unclean Spirit,” placed in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal, was inspired by his brother’s struggle with schizophrenia. Tom’s creativity lives on.
"Silence! Frenzied, unclean spirit, "
cried God's healing, holy One.
"Cased your ranting! Flesh can't bear it.
Flee as night before the sun."
At Christ's voice the demon trembled,
fro its victim madly rushed,
while the crowd that was assembled
stood in wonder, stunned and hushed.
Lord, the demons still are thriving
in the grey cells of the mind:
Tyrant voices shrill and driving,
twisted thoughts that grip and bind,
Doubts that stir the heart to panic,
fears distorting reason's sight,
Guilt that makes our loving frantic,
drams that cloud the soul with fright.
Silence, Lord, the unclean spirit,
in our mind and in our heart.
Speak your word that,
when we hear it,
all our demons shall depart.
Clear our thought and calm our feeling,
still the fractured, warring soul.
By the power of your healing
make us faithful, true, and whole.
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