Christmas is supposed to be the most joyous day of the year.

— Reverend Henry Biggs finding that statement, his faith and his marriage all sharply challenged

The Preacher's Wife is a 1996 Christmas romantic comedy-drama family film directed by Penny Marshall, starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance, and a remake of the 1947 Samuel Goldwyn film The Bishop's Wife. A co-production between Touchstone Pictures and The Samuel Goldwyn Company (who at the time owned the original film), the film was distributed to cinemas in the USA by Buena Vista Pictures on December 13, 1996.[1]


A voiceover by the child Jeremiah guides the viewer through the film.

Rev. Henry Biggs is the pastor of a small struggling Baptist church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of New York City. Membership is declining, Henry is pulled in a hundred directions by his parishioner's needs, and the church's finances are in trouble. Henry is under intense pressure from real estate developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines) to sell the church's property so that Hamiltion can build luxury condominiums on the site. Henry has also become neglectful of his wife, Julia, and his son, Jeremiah. Julia worries that her marriage is failing. Unsure that he can make a difference in his parishioners' lives and beginning to lose his faith, Henry prays to God for help, which comes in the form of Dudley, a witty and debonaire angel. Dudley tells Henry that he is an angel sent by God to help him, but Henry is deeply suspicious of Dudley. Julia, however, is instantly charmed by the handsome and unflappable angel.

With Christmas approaching, Henry's schedule becomes increasingly burdensome, and Dudley begins to spend most of his time with Julia and Jeremiah. Rev. Bigg's secretary, Beverly, becomes comically defensive and aggressive, believing Dudley is there to take her job. Julia's wasp-tongued mother, Margueritte, is also suspicious of Dudley, because she believes the newcomer will break up her daughter's marriage. Dudley and Julia go ice skating, and then later spend an evening in the jazz club where Julia once performed. After Henry confronts Dudley, Dudley realizes that he is falling in love with Julia. Dudley turns his attention to Hamilton, and manages to disrupt Hamilton's schemes to get Henry to sell the church. Henry now realizes that his family is the most important thing in his life, and he resolves to be a better husband and father. At the church's Christmas pageant, Henry finds his faith in God renewed and his ties to his family restored.

With his work done, Dudley gives the Biggs family a fully decorated Christmas tree as a gift. Dudley then erases all memories of himself from everyone he has met, and although he attends midnight service on Christmas Eve, no one recognizes him. Jeremiah, who has the faith of a child, still remembers Dudley, and wishes him a merry Christmas.

A subplot present throughout the film focuses on Julia's singing talents. Once a popular nightcub singer, she is now a star in the church choir. This subplot provides for several set pieces in which the choir performs and Gospel music plays a significant role. It also provides comic relief in the form of a domineering choir director.



Title(s)Performed by
Whitney Houston
W. Houston
with The Georgia Mass Choir
"Who Would Imagine a King?"W. Houston
featuring Nativity Choir
from The Preacher's Wife
"He's All Over Me"W. Houston
with Shirley Caeser
and the GMC
"The Lord is My Shepherd"Cissy Houston
with Hezekiah Walker
and The LFC Choir


Denzel WashingtonDudley
Whitney HoustonJulia Biggs
Courtney VanceReverend Henry Biggs
Gregory HinesJoe Hamilton
Jenifer LewisMargueritte Coleman
Loretta DevineBeverly
Justin EdmundJeremiah Biggs
Lionel RichieBritsloe
Paul BatesSaul Jeffreys
Lex MonsonOsbert
Darvel Davis Jr.Hakim
William Stiggers Jr.Billy Eldridge
Marcella LoweryAnna Eldridge
Cissy HoustonMrs. Havergal
Aaron McConnaughey, Shyheim Franklin,
Taral Hicks, Kennan Scott
Jernard Burks
Anibal Lleras (uncredited)
Pizza Men
Michael Jackson
Derrick Simmons (uncredited)
Jaime TirelliLiquor Store Owner
Shari HeadleyArlene Chattan
Lizan MitchellJudge
Robert ColstonBailiff
Victor WilliamsRobbie
Juliehera DestefanoReceptionist
Charlotte d'AmboiseDebbie Paige
Delores MitchellMary Halford
David SmyrlHanley's Waiter
Harsh NayyarChristmas Tree Man
Mervyn WarrenPianist
Roy HaynesDrummer
George ColemanSax Player
Ted DunbarGuitar Player
Jamil NasserBass Player
Helmar CooperJohnson Keeley
Mary DavisBernita
Toukie SmithTeleprompter Operator
Mozelle Allen, Eloise Beasley,
Yolanda Beasley-Prime, Cassondra Breedlove,
Dirk Chaney, Brenda Childs,
Anthony Copeland, Hayward Cromartie,
Betty Davis, Valerie Edwards,
Kimberley Garrett, Rutha Harris,
Carolyn Henry, Gary Nuckles-Holt,
Teretha Houston, Angela & Morris Jones,
Rose Jordan, Jacqueline Martin,
Betty Matthews, Rev. Corey McGee,
Naguanda Miller, Sharon Mitchell,
Beverly Nixon, Krishna Presha,
Jacqulyn Saunders, Constance Small,
Troy Sneed Sr., Rev. Lawrence Thomas,
Ulisa Thomas, V. Ranaldo Welcome,
Berta Williams, Kimberly Wright
St. Matthew's Choir
& Band Members
Steven BrownDrummer
Rick CarterBass Player
Sterling Holloman IILead Guitar Player
Reverend Kenneth PadenPianist
Dwain WhiteOrganist
Aaron & Yakin JordanEldridge Kids
Joshua JordanDonkey (Nativity Choir)
Tiffany Joseph, Marquis Bowen-Wallace,
Lakeya Enos
Shepherds (Nativity Choir)
Jessica MalloyJessica (Mary - Nativity Choir)
Amia HartBeverly's Child
Brittany AndersonSheep (Nativity Choir)
Christopher Malloy, Tiffiny Graham,
Khalia Hamilton-Montouute
Angels (Nativity Choir)
Andal FequiereJoseph (Nativity Choir)
Mark Gilbert, Michael Marshall,
Shaun Purefoy
Wise Men (Nativity Choir)
Christine KoonCamel (Nativity Choir)
Anthony BigghamLamb (Nativity Choir)
Taleah EnosOx (Nativity Choir)
Jerry Brunsin, Anthony Burnett,
Kevin & Phillip Mitchell
Painting Singers
Adam Alexi-MalleRobbery Witness
Debbie BenitezLiquor Store Owner's Wife
David MadisonDefendant
John Rowe Jr.Prosecuting Attorney
Ronald SylversCongregation Member


External links

The Walt Disney Company
Animated shorts
Empty SocksMickey's OrphansSanta's WorkshopMickey's Good DeedThe Night Before ChristmasToy TinkersPluto's Christmas TreeThe Small OneMickey's Christmas Carol • "Jingle Bells, Something Smells" • "The Nutcracker" • "Mickey's Mixed Nuts" • "Mickey's Christmas Chaos" • Operation: Secret Santa • "Oh, Christmas Tree!" • "The Lights Before Christmas" • "Tinsle Tussle"
Animated Walt Disney's Christmas JollitiesThe Nightmare Before ChristmasBeauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasMickey's Once Upon a ChristmasWinnie the Pooh: Seasons of GivingMickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of MouseRecess Christmas: Miracle on Third StreetA Very Merry Pooh YearMickey's Twice Upon a ChristmasMy Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas MovieA Christmas CarolMarvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight!
Live-action Babes in ToylandOne Magic ChristmasThe Christmas StarErnest Saves ChristmasA Mom For ChristmasIn the Nick of TimeThe Muppet Christmas CarolThe Santa ClauseThe Preacher's WifeThe Christmas TreeI'll Be Home For ChristmasSanta Who?The Ultimate Christmas Present 'Twas the NightThe Santa Clause 2Eloise at ChristmastimeThe Santa Clause 3: The Escape ClauseSanta BuddiesThe Search for Santa PawsGood Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!Santa Paws 2: The Santa PupsThe Nutcracker and the Four RealmsNoelleMarley
Television specials and episodes
Television specials From All of Us to All of YouA Disney Christmas GiftA Disney Channel ChristmasWinnie the Pooh and Christmas TooA Goof Troop ChristmasPhineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!Prep & LandingMickey's Christmas SpecialPrep & Landing: Naughty vs. NiceToy Story That Time ForgotDuck the HallsOlaf's Frozen Adventure
Television episodes Disney Television Animation "Jolly Molly Christmas" • "It's a Wonderful Leaf" • "Miracle at the 34th Precinct" • "Doug's Secret Christmas" • "A Christmas Cruella" • "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave" • "Don't Be Elfish" • "A Kosher Christmas" • "A Dog For All Seasons" • "The Worst Holiday Ever" • "Holiday Time" • "Seven Days of Kwanzaa" • "The Blight Before Christmas" • "Cheery Theerlap, Lloyd" • "Pete's Christmas Caper" • "Clarabelle's Christmas List" • "Happy Holidays, Mr. Gruff!" • "A Very Possible Christmas" • "Topper" • "On Whiskers, On Lola, On Cheryl and Meryl" • "Hairy Christmas" • "A Giftmas Story" • "Season's Beatings" • "Dick Daring's All-Star Holiday Stunt Spectacular V" • "Stitch and Santa" • "A Phineas and Ferb Family Christmas" • "A Cousin Kyle Christmas" • "Merry Fishmas, Milo" • "The Gift" • "Gingersnaps and Grumpy Snaps" / "Jollybells" • "Future-Worm and the 54 Days of Snordfest" • "Stump Day" / "Holiday Spellcial" • "A Christmas Peril" • "Tree Lighting" • "A Merry Mocap Musical" • "Last Christmas!" • "Festival of Lights" • "The Present" • "Green Christmas" • " Navidad"
Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior "The Wishing Tree" • "Little Dog Lost" • "A Circus Town Christmas" • "Twinkle's Wish" • "The Christmas Wish " • "A Very Handy Holiday" • "The Wind-Up Toy Prince" • "Mickey Saves Santa" • "The Night Before Zipsmas / A Gift For Zooter" • "Flicker Saves Christmas" • "The Ayalas' Christmas Extravaganza" • "The Living Holiday Lights" • "It's a Winter Never Land!" • "A Very McStuffins Christmas" • "Holiday in Enchancia" • "Captain Scrooge" • "Winter's Gift" • "Toby's Christmas Critter / A Very Tricky Christmas" • "The Mystic Isles: A Very Mystic Wassailia" • "Timon and Pumbaa's Christmas" • "Happy Hot Diggity Dog Holiday!" • "Happy Holiday Helpers" • "A Very Pug Christmas" • "A Very Muppet Babies Christmas" • "Summer's Super Fabulous Holiday Surprise" • "A Santa for Bob" • The Doc McStuffins Christmas Special • "Nanpire and Grandpop the Greats" • "Nancy and the Nice List" • "A Gargoyle Carol" • "The Lights Before Christmas" • "Tinsle Tussle" • "Santa Baby"
Touchstone/ABC Studios "How the Super Stole Christmas" • "A Very Special Clone High Snowflake Day Special"
Marvel Animation (post-2009) "Nightmare on Christmas" • "It's a Wonderful Smash" • "Jingle Bell Rock" • "The Moon Knight Before Christmas"
Television specials The Walt Disney Christmas ShowChristmas at Pooh CornerA Magic Kingdom Yuletide SpecialThe Disney Christmas SpecialMickey's NutcrackerDisney's Christmas Fantasy on IceA Muppets Christmas: Letters to SantaGood Luck Jessie: NYC ChristmasJessie's Aloha Holidays with Parker & JoeyDisney Channel Fa-La-La-Lidays Celebrates a Radio Disney Family Holiday
'Television episodes 'Walt Disney Television "Christmas at the Circus" • "Christmas in Wonderland" • "Refrigerator Day" • "A Roman Holiday" • "Fountain" • "Happy Holidays" • "Heck of a Hanukkah" • "Xtreme Xmas" • "Escape Claus" • "Christmas at the Tipton" • "Christmas Break" • "Killing Me Softly With His Height" • "Present Problem" • "Happy Ha-Ha Holidays" • "A So Random! Holiday Special" • "A London Carol" • "Bro Ho Ho" • "So Random! Episode 18" • "Pair of Santas" • "sANTa's Little Helpers" • "Christmas Story" • "Jingle It Up" • "A Little Elf Esteem" • "A Duncan Christmas" • "Bark! The Herald Angels Sing" • "Merry Merry It Up" • "Oh, Christmas Nuts!" • "Big Dreams & Big Apples" • "Nanny in Miami" • "Fa La La La-A-Rooney" • "Mix-Ups & Mistletoes" • "Twas the Mission Before Christmas" • "silANT night" • "Twas the Fight Before Christmas" • "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays" • "Stan Steals Christmas" • "Merry Miss Sis" • "Secret Santa" • "Twas the Fight Before Christmas" • "The Girls of Christmas Past" • "Santas & Surprises" • "Joy-to-a-Rooney" • "Single All the Way" • "Cali Christmas-A-Rooney" • "Girl Meets a Christmas Maya" • "How the Griff Stole Christmas" • "Holly Holly Not So Jolly" • "The Christmas Curse" • "Agh, Humbug" • "Stuck at Christmas" • "A Killer Robot Christmas" • "Would You Wrather Get a Moose Angry?" • "Holiday Video Sketchtacular " • "Bah Humbugged " • "Merry Christmas Mr. Gooch " • "It's Christmas, Gabby Duran " • "Would You Wrather Lose Your Presents? " • "Summer Winter Wonderland " • "How the Syd Stole Christmas"
Touchstone/ABC Studios "It's a Marginal Life" • "Yule Better Watch Out" • "I'm Scheming of a White Christmas" • "Santa's Little Helper" • "'Twas the Blight Before Christmas" • "Some Like It Hot Rod" • "'Twas the Night Before Chaos" • "'Twas the Flight Before Christmas" • "Easy Street" • "Bright Christmas" • "A Very Topanga Christmas" • "Home for the Holidays" • "An According to Jiminy Christmas" • "Spirit" • "One Office Party Too Many" • "The Christmas Party" • "Secret Santa" • "Silent Night, Opening Night" • "Stalking Santa" • "Aru-Bah Humbug" • "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" • "The Gift of Maggie" • "Christmas Time" • "Light the Lights" • "The Miracle Song" • "Fake Plastic Snow" • "The Nutcracker" • "Two for the Money" • "Holidaze" • "Boom Crunch" • "Cold Turkey"
A Family ChristmasDisney's Merry Christmas CarolsA Pooh ChristmasThe Twelve Days of ChristmasDisney's Christmas CollectionDisney's Christmas Collection IIDisney's Family Christmas CollectionDisney's Snowy ChristmasDisney's Princess Christmas AlbumDisney's Merry Little ChristmasA Green and Red ChristmasDisney's Holiday Celebration 2007Disney Channel HolidayDisney Holiday Magic 2009Disney Winter Wonderland 2010Phineas and Ferb Holiday FavoritesMickey's Magical Holiday 2011Disney Channel Holiday PlaylistHolidays UnwrappedSongs and Story: Mickey's Christmas Around the WorldSongs and Story: Ariel's Christmas Under the Sea
Disney Parks Christmas Day ParadeThe Magic of Christmas at DisneylandThe Magic of Christmas at Walt Disney WorldDis the Season25 Days of Christmas
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