Early History 1733-1964

1733 First Parish founded.

1775 Choir established, singers took turns directing the group. Choir members sat among the congregation.

1796 Instrumental music was added: a bass viol to assist the choir (from Tate and Brady's collection), violin, flute, and French horn.

1804 New church erected in July. The Northwest Parish in Cambridge Singing Society established to correct, as its preamble stated, "the spirit of music in public devotion has become somewhat languid and its genius seems about to withdraw." New rules included: Every choir member should sit in singing seats when at meeting. During singing of hymn, the congregation turned to face the choir, who followed the baton of the leader by beating out time with their hands or fingers. The leader read a line of the hymn, then led the singing of the choir in that line (usually accompanied by the congregation).

1805 New Church dedicated on March 20. The new building excited the "musical zeal" of members to improve singing on Sunday. William Cutter was chosen to lead parish singing. Two seats in the front gallery were set apart for singers.

1829 First Parish became Unitarian.

1840 Universalists maintained an independent church society. (As of 2012 the building is the home of Highrock church, two blocks west on Massachusetts Avenue.)

1964 By unanimous affirmative parish votes, the Unitarian and Universalist groups were reunited in the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church.


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