About the Collection

Search Guidelines

This electronic archive allows access to the complete text of each of John Donne’s extant sermons (around 160 sermons in all). This page offers guidelines for navigating the site.


Each sermon is full-text searchable by keyword—that is, you can run a search for occurrences of a single word or set of words, and the database will identify each appearance of that word or word-set in the entire sermon collection.

Please note that this archive maintains Donne’s original spellings: a search for “penitentiall” or “studie,” for example, will produce results that may not appear under a search for “penitential” or “study.”

N.B.: Donne’s sermons include marginal scripture citations, which provide an enormously helpful resource. The Simpson and Potter edition of the sermons, from which the texts on this site were scanned, interpolated editorial citations among Donne’s own. Since it was impossible to differentiate Donne’s original marginalia from the copyrighted editorial marginalia during scanning, this collection includes main text only.


The sermons have also been catalogued by the following categories:

  • Date of delivery (Displays in New (Gregorian) Style, though the sermon titles provide Old and New Style dating where applicable):
  • Place of delivery (e.g., St. Paul ‘s Cross, Whitehall , etc.)
  • Scriptural source text (the scriptural reference which the sermon intends to examine)
  • Audience (e.g., the King, the Nobility, unspecified, etc.)
  • Occasion (e.g., Lent, Easter-day, general, etc.)

Unlike the full-text search, each of these categories is limited in its contents. There are, in other words, a finite number of places that Donne’s sermons were delivered, and a finite number of dates, and occasions, and so forth. These categories are searchable using drop-down menus, which reflect their limited possibilities.

Viewing Individual Sermons

Once a sermon is selected, the text of that sermon is viewable in PDF format. This format requires Adobe Reader. Please click here to download.

You may view each page individually using the page selection menu at the left side of the screen. Alternatively, you may view the entire document, though downloading these files may take some time if you use a dial-up connection.

Once the page(s) you select are visible, the image may be saved, printed, emailed, searched, and otherwise manipulated by using the toolbar at the top of the displayed page image. Selecting the “page and text” option at the top right of the screen will display both the PDF page image and the text characters side-by-side, which allows for easier cut-and-paste.

Keyword searches are possible within the displayed page or entire sermon document (if downloaded) using the “search this object” function at the upper left of the screen. Keyword search results will be indicated with red brackets on the page-by-page list on the left of the screen; click on any page number to display.

If you wish to save images for future reference while you continue to search the sermon archive, you may choose to “add doc to favorites” (the whole sermon) or to “add page to favorites” (the displayed page). Saved documents/pages will be retrievable through the “my favorites” selection at the top of the screen during the duration of your session.