University Sermon on the Sin of Pride

Harris Manchester was delighted to host this year’s Sermon on the Sin of Pride, as part of the University Sermon series, on Sunday 20 November. The preacher for the evening was best-selling author, psychotherapist and artist Philippa Perry, who delivered an engaging sermon to a packed College Chapel.

Philippa pointed to the relationship between the Christian concept of sinful pride and the psychoanalytical notion of narcissism, and reminded the congregation of the dangers of a pride that seeks to define others or to push them down in order to elevate one’s own sense of worth.

The sermon was preached in the context of a service of Choral Evensong, led by the College Chaplain the Rev Dr Claire MacDonald, and sung by Harris Manchester’s College Choir under the direction of Dr James Whitbourn. The service, a university event, took place in the presence of Professor Jane Shaw, attending both as the College Principal and as a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Pro-Proctor Dr Robert Salguero-Gomez.

The congregation also included a number of distinguished guests from the world of the arts, including acclaimed visual artist Cornelia Parker, award-winning poet Fiona Sampson, director and producer Janet Lee and Harris Manchester's own Senior Research Fellow, writer Jeanette Winterson.

The Sermon on the Sin of Pride is one of a pair endowed by William Master in 1684. Master matriculated at Christ Church and was appointed Fellow of Merton College during his undergraduate studies. He left a total of five pounds in his will to the University of Oxford to endow two sermons, on the Sin of Pride and the Grace of Humility. This was a rare opportunity for Harris Manchester to host such an event, as the Sermons are rotated around college chapels across Oxford. The Principal and Fellows were keen that an open and affirming approach should be taken to a potentially forbidding topic.

Find out more about the University Sermon series here.