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Sixteen Sermons of Philip C. Herrmann: 1972 - 1974

Introduction by Tim Wallace

The information below was assembled in the 2000-2004 time frame, except where noted. Some CDs were burned, and distributed to a few family members, since Internet access wasn't fast enough nor was Internet storage inexpensive enough to consider placing it on a web site. Given the advances in these areas, it is being put on the Internet in 2015, 120 years after the birth of Philip Herrmann.

Philip loved all kinds of technology. For example, in his late 80's he spent some time working with an early personal computer database to record some information about his stamp collection. He would have been completely amazed to know that his sermons could be heard (and his photo albums viewed) by hundreds of millions of people in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa just by typing his name into their smart phone! The rest of this introduction was written in January, 2004.

Abbreviated Family History

My Grandfather Philip Charles Herrmann (PCH, as he liked to abbreviate) was born on January 13, 1895. After living in New York City for most of his life, he moved to Ohio with my Grandmother to be near us in the late 1960's. Upon her death, he moved in with us.

The most important thing in his life was his relationship with the Lord and his passion was Bible study. He could generally pinpoint the book and chapter of any passage of scripture read at random, to the amazement of the grandchildren. He grew up in the Plymouth Brethren (PB) sect, and preached over a span of many years since the PB tradition was not to hire pastors to preach but to have the elders or their designees handle pulpit duty.

In the early 1970's our family was worshipping at a local Plymouth Brethren assembly called Willo Bible Chapel, in Willoughby, Ohio, which we had been attending since its inception and construction in the 1950's. PCH joined this group after moving to Ohio and was asked to preach at various times due to his experience at the task and his excellent grasp of PB theology.

Tape Recording the Sermons

In late 1971 or early 1972 we had a week of special meetings that I was unable to attend in its entirety due to my college responsibilities. However, when I did make it, I was highly impressed with the speaker, whose name I do not now recall. Unfortunately, it was then too late to hear the previous meetings!

I proposed to the elders that we set up a cassette tape recorder to record the sermons directly from the PA system. At that time I was working as a technician at a local electronics store which had just gotten in a bunch of surplus Ampex cassette recorders which were on sale at a good price. I proposed the purchase of one of those (for which I got no commission, incidentally, since I was not a salesman) and that was accomplished.

The worship meeting was for members only and took place at 9:30, with no sermon. The 11:00 ``Family Bible Hour'' meetings nominally had 20 minutes of music and announcements, followed by a 40 minute message (the sermon). We used one side of a 90 minute cassette to record the sermon only, giving the preacher about 5 minutes overtime before it cut off. One of us sitting near the front would get up and go into the PA room to the left of the podium to turn on the tape as the last hymn ended. When we didn't quite make it, we would miss the introduction of the preacher, or even the first few sentences of the sermon.

My grandfather turned 77 in January of 1972, and although he had probably lost a little speed of thinking and talking, he hadn't lost any of his love of Bible study or desire to improve his preaching. I recall him asking if his sermons were being recorded by the new system, which I assured him was the case. He then asked if he could listen to them for purposes of improving his delivery. PCH in 1973

Since the cassettes belonged to the church and were recycled after some period, I told him that we could make him a reel-to-reel tape containing his sermons. The tape I provided was a standard 1800 foot 3M 150 which went for about 48 minutes on each side at 7 1/2 ips. Recording at 1 7/8, or one fourth the speed, and putting one sermon on the left channel and one on the right enabled us to fit 16 sermons on the tape.

PCH was very grateful to have this tape available, and listened to each sermon carefully. He often did this while I was away at school, but I do recall the feedback that he was dissatisfied with his preaching delivery in the early sermons and that he resolved to improve. I thought that was pretty good for someone his age; when you're 19, you probably think it's a little late to improve at 77!

He did ask me why some of the tapes cut off before the end, to which I explained with a smile that the sermon is supposed to be 40 minutes, and the tape is 45 minutes more or less, so if he ran past 12:05 there was nothing that could be done. I explained that while tapes existed that were longer, they were too thin to reliably work in our deck. (Auto-reverse technology was also too expensive at that time in technological history.) The tape situation motivated him to finish by 12:05, which he did more consistently after this.

1974 Meets the Technology of 2000

I still have the tape, and I have a Pioneer reel-to-reel deck that can play it, but not at 1 7/8. In the summer of 2000 I played the tape at 3 3/4 which was double speed, and recorded it on my computer digitally. I converted each sermon to an MP3 file which could be played on a computer or on other MP3 players. Most of them are reasonably good recordings, but a few of them have problems due to the recorder, the tape, or the microphone/amp/wiring (take your pick). I have done some filtering to improve the intelligibility of some of the recordings.

It is really nice to have transcripts of the sermons, however, since you can read them a lot faster than you can listen to them.

This site also contains an HTML version of the King James Version, as well as the Darby Bible that PCH often studied in this time frame. Links to passages are provided (not all complete) so you can follow along with his text and references, many of which are quoted from memory, and generally very accurately.

I probably heard all of the sermons when originally preached; I may have missed one or two. I knew my Grandfather well, and knew his customary vocabulary, but despite these advantages, there are a few places in which I am just not sure what he said. These are marked with ?? in the transcripts. Suggestions of the proper transcription will be gratefully received.

Content of the Sermons

PCH felt that almost every sermon should make the gospel plain in case some visitor had never really heard it before. Along the same lines, he surmised that many regular attenders were lacking in theological and Bible understanding, so most sermons included anywhere from five to twenty minutes of asides either expounding on interesting side points or reiterating basic theological truth. Not all of these asides are commonly taught (or even believed) today. The result of all this is that the sermons contain a pretty complete exposition of the theology of PCH. This is another reason to make transcripts; searching for key words can find some interesting remarks on various topics.

I quickly put together some 30-character titles (because that was the limit that I could use to annotate the MP3 files) at a point when I only had completed ten of the transcripts. Maybe someone can give flashy titles to the sermons, but of course that wouldn't necessarily be compatible with the style of PCH! I have thought about writing a more detailed review of the sermons in the future, but until then, you can read the complete transcripts yourself or listen to the mp3s.

If you click on the title the transcript will appear in your browser, and if you click on the little (mp3) link your mp3 player should start up and play the audio. A pdf link is provided for better printing.

Future of the Project

I may put additional pictures on the site if I come across those. If anyone would like to contribute their own recollections and experiences of PCH, that could be useful and interesting. Any geneological buffs out there who want to contribute information? I have included some old stuff from PCH.

There is some brief historical material here including some letters about his early years, written by himself. His three photo albums have been scanned in high resolution and captioned as well as possible. If you know more about any of the pictures, please tell me.