The Sleeping Preacher

Major Perry, also known as the “Sleeping Preacher”, might have grown up uneducated and on a farm, but his fame would carry on for generations.

Born in 1831, his sermons were said to be powerful, sometimes eloquent, and well delivered. Sometimes it would be many that gathered outside his South Carolina home, other times only one or two. Sometimes no one gathered. But still he preached. His wife would allow the awaiting onlookers into their quarters. Perry always held his services the same, opening with a hymn, he’d say a prayer, and then preach his forty-minute sermon, all while he slept.

It is said that Perry could not be woken while giving his sermons. It was common for the skeptical onlooker to burn him with cigarettes. Physicians poked the sleeping preacher with needles, and some put pepper in his eyes. None of the torture ever roused him. In his waking hours he could not repeat any of his text.

Nearly every night for 45 years, Perry preached in his sleep. Along with his name, date of birth and death, his tombstone reads: “Began preaching in 1880, in sleep. He preached every night until death.”

I first heard about the sleeping preacher from my family. My grandmother actually went to hear him preach in her younger years. I wasn’t as fascinated with the story as I am now. I wish she were here to answer my many questions about the man.

Here are a few links if you’d like to learn more about Major Perry:

• Info about Major Perry at,, and

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