Fiddle-and-lecture Christmas

OK: now I wanna know if Reginald Fessenden
was a Unitarian.

I asked because I noticed on the Wikipedia article for December 24 that on this day in 1906 the “The first radio program, consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech, is broadcast” by Fessenden. The solo was O Holy Night, probably the first music transmitted by radio.

This program sounds all the life to me like an outsider’s description of the old (but once quite common) of Unitarian worship sometimes described (and sometimes derided) as “fiddle and lecture.”

The notion isn’t too weird: he was a preacher’s kid (don’t know the denomination), lived in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and made the broadcast from Brant Rock village in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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