Guide to Literary Terms Homily

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Homily - a moralizing discourse or sermon explaining some part of the Bible with accompanying instruction for the congregation.

The term is derived from the Greek homilia, meaning “converse or discourse.”

Books of Homilies were published in 1547 and, again, in 1563 to be read in parish churches. Shakespeare refers to homilies in As You Like It when Rosalind comments on the verses Celia is reading :

O most gentle pulpiter! What tedious homily of love have you wearied your parishioners withal, and never cried “Have patience, good people”!
Act III, scene ii : lines 154 – 156

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