Dr. Herbert Lockyer (1886-1984) is one of the most quoted Bible expositors of the 20th century. His 21-volume All series takes a comprehensive look at thousands of biblical topics, with full volumes on such unexpected topics as All the Kings and Queens of the Bible and All the Trades and Occupations of the Bible. The series is a landmark in Bible study; volumes such as All the Miracles, All the Promises, and All the Messianic Prophecies have a wealth of devotional content to explore, in addition to their informative value.
But no one has written a biography of Herbert Lockyer. In fact, one can hardly find a scrap of anecdote about his life story. His Wikipedia page, which I created, is the result of hours of Internet searches—and all the information there comes from two publishers’ websites, one of which no longer exists. But I’ve learned some more about Lockyer since, and here’s what I can piece together:
Herbert Lockyer began as an orator. He studied “voice culture” and eventually published two books on the topic. (1) He even wanted to pursue a career as an actor—but the Lord redirected his steps, and he chose to be a pastor. After training at Glasgow Bible Institute, he held several pastorates in both England and Scotland, ministering for twenty-five years. (2)
He was influential in the Keswick Higher Life movement. Whitaker House’s author page (2) says that Dr. Lockyer gained influence in the movement while pastoring in Bradford, England. His sermons published in the 1930s are still inspiring, biblical, and concise. Evidently, he was ministering intermittently on both sides of the Atlantic, until he was called to minister in the United States.
A turning point came to his ministry in 1936. As a leader at Keswick, he must have received some invitations to minister in the United States, because in 1935 he began publishing sermons in Chicago. Dr. Lockyer was invited to speak at Moody Bible Institute’s 50th anniversary in 1936. From that time, other major evangelical publishers picked him up; within that year alone he published five books of sermons with Eerdman’s, and at least a dozen pamphlets with Zondervan and Moody. Within a couple of years, he was publishing even more compilations of sermons. These sermons—most of them were topical—formed the groundwork for his most influential ministry: his comprehensive topical Bible studies, better known as the All series.
From 1936, Dr. Lockyer mostly ministered and published in the United States, where he became even more well known than he had been in England. Around 1955, he returned to England. He published many books during the 1950s, but as his speaking ministry waned, his writing ministry eventually gave him an even wider influence. The gifted orator had turned writer.
In his later years, his ministry focused almost exclusively on writing. As his gift and influence as a writer became evident, he focused more and more on his writing projects. After crossing the Atlantic yet again to live in Colorado Springs, Dr. Lockyer spent years painstakingly studying the Scriptures, so that others could benefit from his comprehensive topical studies. These studies resulted in the All series, published between 1958 and 1976. His son, also a minister, acted as his editor during that time. As his corpus grew, many of these later books expanded on his earlier works and gave his writing more polish. All about God in Christ, for example, takes most of its material from his 1942 book of sermons, The Christ of Christmas, but the content is edited and expanded considerably, and it is a little easier to read. (3)
Dr. Lockyer may be one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century. He had an unbelievably long ministry and writing career—he passed away in 1984, just a couple years shy of becoming a centenarian. Even while writing this article, I have found a full-length book of his that I had never heard of. It is difficult to ascertain how much original work he actually published, since so many works were re-titled, and others are impossible to find. His solo-authored volumes, on both sides of the Atlantic, number around 85 volumes. (This does not include books that changed titles or short works such as pamphlets.)
Billy Graham wrote, “Dr. Lockyer was unquestionably one of the spiritual giants of our century, and his prolific writings will continue to make an impact on countless Christians for generations to come if our Lord tarries.”
(1) Voice Culture for Speakers and Students (Parry Jackman, 1955), and The Art of Praying and Speaking in Public: Practical Hints for Christians Who Desire to Witness (Parry Jackman, 1955).
(2) https://www.whitakerhouse.com/DeskTop.aspx?page=AuthorInfo&author=399. Accessed August 12, 2017.
(3) Some of Dr. Lockyer’s works were also published under new titles to fit with the All series. All the Teachings of Jesus was first titled Everything Jesus Taught and What Jesus Taught About —. All the 3s in the Bible is a repackaging of the three-volume Triple Truths of Scripture. This, in turn, drew from earlier material, all the way back to his 1936 sermons, The Three Crosses on Calvary’s Hill, Triads in Scripture, and The Trinity in the Scriptures. In this way, one can see how the All series was compiled laboriously over the course of many years. It is the capstone of four decades of study and ministry.