Pulpits were introduced into English churches after the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, when the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, and emphasised the importance of the sermon over the ceremony.
The priest's sermon, based upon readings from the Gospels, would be delivered from the top section; the second tier was devoted to lessons, or readings from the Bible; and the lower part was for the clerk to lead responses in the church service.
This emphasis upon close reading of the Bible in English, the interpretation of its significance and the application of those lessons to one's everyday life was of immense importance in enriching popular culture, increasing literacy and encouraging introspection. Reading the religious verse of John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan and Richard Crashaw is a thrilling experience, regardless of one's religious/spiritual orientation. It is like watching the birth of the concept of self.
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