Sermons from the Past, in Service of the Present

Duke University Chapel is home to a long history of faithful preaching. Through the generosity of the Lilly Endowment, sermons preached at Duke Chapel between 1946 and 2002 have been digitized and transcribed. The Duke University Chapel Recordings Digital Collection makes these manuscripts and recordings available to the public. Living Tradition curates this historical collection in service of the present moment.

Preachers and teachers will find oral histories with preachers themselves, conversation starters for further learning, and highlights from the digital collection. Living Tradition highlights the ways that the preaching of Duke Chapel engaged its time and place in the latter half of the twentieth century. We are glad you’re here.

Featured Content

Immigrant Voices at the Pulpit

Watch Crystal Chiu's performance reading at Duke Chapel and learn how she explores how to include more immigrant voices at the pulpit.

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"Am I Still a Stranger?"

Our Bass Connections team sits down with leaders serving immigrant communities after they listen to a selected sermon about immigration from the archive.

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Liddy Grantland at Duke Chapel

Chorus of Preachers

Discover the diversity of preaching traditions at Duke Chapel. The Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Collection makes available sermon manuscripts as well as high-quality audio and video recordings of preachers from varied denominational, ethnic, social backgrounds between the years of 1942–2002. These recordings are searchable by Scripture, preacher, and key word.

Luke Powery interviews James Forbes

Bridging Pulpit and Practice

Preachers from past and present reflect on the “nuts and bolts” of how sermons work, how preachers dig deep, and how sermons change over time. Conversation starters for today’s homiletic classrooms are provided.

Students research Preaching and Protest

Preaching in Time and Place

Preaching is contextual. It responds to time and place – even when a preacher doesn't intend to. Interdisciplinary teams of Duke students and faculty share their research on how sermons shape, and are shaped by, their moments in history.

Writing notes

Sermon Resources

Spark creativity in next week’s sermon. The digital archive is organized by date, preacher, title, liturgical calendar, biblical passage, and key word – so preachers can find the sermon conversation partners they need.


About the Project

Living Tradition was made possible by a unique collaboration between Duke Chapel, Duke Divinity School, Duke University Library, and the Lilly Endowment.  Since 2016, student researchers have been transcribing and data-tagging digitized sermons preached from the Duke Chapel Pulpit between the years of 1946-2002.  Their work is ongoing.  The structure of Living Tradition was envisioned at a 2018 international symposium of scholars that teach and research preaching. The goal of this broad coalition was a website that curated sermons from the past for the training of a new generation.