Telling It Slant: Broadcasting faith in a
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ON Monday 2 January 1928, a dogged campaign by a Miss Kathleen
Cordeaux of Bushey, Hertfordshire, finally achieved its objective.
A "Short Religious Service", as it was called, opened the daily
transmissions of the BBC's National Service. As Miss Cordeaux had
hoped, it contained "a little sacred music, hymns, and a brief
reading or address to comfort the sick and lonely".
In much the same form, but under the more familiar title of
The Daily Service, that same broadcast is still there
every weekday morning on Radio 4. Other than the news and the
weather forecast, it is the longest-running programme on the BBC.
Located nowadays on long-wave (in competition with Woman's
Hour on FM and digital wavelengths), it still has a dedicated
audience; and doubtless many of them will enjoy this collection of
52 scripts of these short services presented by Canon Chris Chivers
over the past seven years.
Each script includes a brief reflection on an already chosen
theme, or is linked to a current event, together with a Bible
reading, prayers, and details of the music (hymns and an anthem,
typically) which made up the service.
As examples of "oasis" broadcasting they could hardly be
improved; and I know from long experience that there are people who
make this spot their daily pause for reflection and prayer.
The book's subtitle, however, "Broadcasting faith in a
contemporary world", surely claims too much for it. This is, in
fact, ghetto broadcasting of a very high standard, but, given the
small size and eclectic nature of the audience, it is hardly
engaging with the mainstream of contemporary culture.
For that, surely, one must look to Pause for Thought on
the Radio 2 breakfast show, or Thought for the Day on
Radio 4's Today programme, each of which has audiences
running into many millions, and which are broadcast in an
entertainment or current-affairs context.
Chivers is an excellent communicator, as is attested by many of
these scripts, and especially by a sermon for Pentecost broadcast
in a Sunday service from Blackburn Cathedral. Christians will find
them stimulating and challenging; but I don't think they are
entirely the an- swer to the challenge of "broadcasting faith" to
those who are in the aisles of IKEA rather than in church.
Canon David Winter is a retired cleric in the diocese of
Oxford, and a former Head of Religious Broadcasting at the
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