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josie's avatar

Should a clergyman attribute the (non-Biblical) source of words that he uses in a sermon?

Asked by josie (25210 points ) February 24th, 2013

I recently went to a memorial service for a friend who got killed.

In the course of the service the minister said a prayer, that contained the words “Let Creation reveal it’s secrets, by and by”.

I was really impressed with the phrase and could not get it out of my head.

Last night, I repeated it to the dad of a friend of mine, saying that I was really taken by the minister’s poetic skill.

He said, “Shit, that’s a line from a song”. He even knew the song.

I searched it, and sure enough, it is.

Not that I would ever make an issue of it other than ask the question. But shouldn’t a preacher give recognition to the author of a phrase that they use in sermon? Did he commit plagiarism?

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3 Answers

chyna's avatar

No I don’t think so. For example: I’ve heard the Lord’s Prayer many times and had have never heard anyone say “and that was from Mathew 6:9.”

Buttonstc's avatar

You said it was part of a prayer he uttered (presumably in closing, following his sermon, or remarks).

If an attribution were required (and I don’t believe it is) I can’t imagine a worse place to state it than as part of a prayer. Ridiculously awkward.

Plus, if it’s a relatively well known song, I imagine he assumed most people would know that. I don’t think he was trying to hide anything or be deceptive.
A funeral prayer isn’t a college term paper, after all :)

Jenniehowell's avatar

Sermons yes – prayers & funerals & weddings not necessarily. Yes it is plagiarism but if I was at a funeral or wedding or listening to a prayer I wouldn’t want to hear the pastor stop to read his bibliography. If I asked him directly about what he said I’d expect that he’d tell the truth. If it were in a sermon or class – I’d expect him to spill the beans of where he got the lines he read.

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