American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Major Barbara" (1941)


Major Barbara's Sermon on the Street


Amid all the poverty and ugliness of our lives here, the sin and the suffering, the grime and the smoke, the toil and the struggle, you know, and I know, that God is with us, always and everywhere.

We don't need a cathedral to worship him in. Here, beneath God's open sky, we can draw nearer to him. Some of you feel him near you even now, and feel, too, how much you need Him. Won't you let Him come into your life now, today, as so many have done before? You want His strength, His guidance, His comfort. And you'll need His forgiveness and friendship.

Some of you turn away from Him in bitterness at the hardship of your lives, saying that you do not want God. You want happiness and beauty.

God will give you both. There is no beauty like the beauty of the newly saved, who has found the unspeakable happiness that only the consciousness of God's presence and love can give.

We, in the [Salvation] Army, have our daily trials. Most of us are as poor as you are. But we all are happy, and the mark of that happiness is on us all for you to see.  The rich are not happy. The poor have only to reach out their hands for God's happiness and take it.

Is there anyone here who has courage enough to raise his hand as a sign that he would like us to pray for him? Make the decision now. In your need and loneliness, God can meet with you.

There must be someone here who feels that he should raise his hand -- but it isn't easy. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. You've done it often enough -- to beckon to your child or to stop a trolley car.

You feel too shy, perhaps. Never mind. I will pray for him. And God will give him the courage of a lion.

Come. Do not keep God waiting. Thousands have done it. And if you can find me one who has done it and been sorry afterwards, I will put off this dear uniform and never pray again.

Come. Come. I know there is someone.

Ah, I found him. Let the brave gentleman come to the front. Make room for him, please. Give me your hand, dear brother. Will you come with me to our shelter where we'll pray together?

Friends, you will now sing "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds."

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American Rhetoric.
HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.