Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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National Sacred Harp Convention

Trinity United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

June 15, 16, 17, 2000

Thursday, June 15

The twenty-first session of the National Sacred Harp Convention met at Trinity United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 15, 16, and 17, 2000.

Thursday’s session was called to order by Chairman Buell Cobb leading song on page 31b. Tom Owen led the morning prayer.

Leaders: Mark Davis 61; Kathy Williams 539; Mike Hinton 373; John Redman 236; Don Bowen 99; Henry Guthery 39b; Latisha Crocker 490; J.L. Hopper 198; Kathy Robinson 546; Ottis Sides 75; Sherry Guthery 340; Frank Hataway 565; Kathleen Robbins 535; Donald Smith 35; Gaston White 159; Henry Johnson 418.

RECESS

The class was called to order by Henry Guthery leading song on page 88t. Leaders: Steven Schmidgall 496; Sheri Taylor 84; Willie Mae Moon 217; Judy Caudle 234; Odom Hawkins 147t; Betty Shaver 454; Bill Hogan 207; Pauline Childers 384; Bob Bonnell 503; Flarce Creel 475; Freeman Wootten and Jewell Wootten 82t; Gene Wakefield 284; Wanda Capps and Shelley Capps 73t; Edward Howton 436; Edith Tate 532.

RECESS

The class was called together by Cindy Franklin leading song on page 269. Officers elected in the business session were: Chairman—Buell Cobb; Vice Chairman—Mark Davis; Chaplain—Tom Owen; Secretary—Kathy Williams. Committees were appointed as follows: Arranging Committee—Catherine Oss, Rosemary Greenaway, and Cindy Franklin; Finance Committee—Don Bowen and John Redman; Resolutions Committee—Richard Mauldin and Sharona Nelson; Memorial Committee—Lee Rogers and Mike Hinton.

Leaders: Travis Keeton 270; Linda Sides 480; Mary Alice Wakefield 63; Ginnie Prater 186; Cassie Franklin 216; Tim Eriksen 277; Louise Holland 58; Floy Wilder 183; Sarah Coates 224; Warren Steel 556; LaRue Allen 280; Cathryn Baker 472; Reed Coates 222; Henry McGuire 365; Coy Ivey 298; Nancy Van Den Akker 223; Mike Grimes 49b; Janet Fraembs 448t; Richard Schmeidler 474; Cheryl Foreman 209; Bradford West 27; Beth Todd 290. Tom Owen led the prayer before lunch.

LUNCH

The class was called together by Catherine Oss leading song on page 318. Leaders: Charlene Wallace 548; Rosemary Greenaway 163b; Tom Owen 528; Lee Rogers 196; Richard Mauldin 36b; Joe Todd 455; Carroll Lunsford 390; John Merritt 499; Linda Thomas 33b; Becky Briggs 354 (t? b?); Elsie Beasley 322, 460; Henry Zittrouer 127; Uel Freeman 146; Curtis Owen 176b; Christie Allen 398; Helen Brown 210; Phill Wisor 74b; Henry Bizzell 452b; Bruce Coates 34b; Peter Irvine 542; Dennis George 112.

Buell Cobb and Mark Davis led song on page 46 as the closing song. Elder J.L. Hopper dismissed the class with prayer.

Friday, June 16

Friday’s session was called to order by Chairman Buell Cobb leading song on page 52t. Louis Hughes led the morning prayer.

Leaders: Mark Davis 129; Kathy Williams 142; Mike Hinton 480; Rosemary Greenaway 383; John Redman 143; Catherine Oss 430; Sharona Nelson 137; Tom Owen 498; Lee Rogers 228; Don Bowen 66; Richard Mauldin 72b; Richard DeLong 285t; Betty Jones 40; Sharon Kellam 312t; David Richardson 473; Anne Kazlauskas 201; Virginia Douglas 49b.

RECESS

Jeff Sheppard brought the class together leading song on page 97. Leaders: Judy Hauff 172; Ila Ingle 436; Allen Fannin 440; Amanda Denson 340; Ted Johnson 345b; Melanie Hauff 392; Dr. Bill Stewart 68b; Anne Chalker 146; Marcia Johnson 218; Kennon Smith 189; Beverly Coates 352; Ginnie Ely 454; Kurt Davis 45t.

RECESS

The class was called together by Cindy Franklin with song on page 198. Leaders: Liz Bryant 475; Patricia Mauldin 63; Eugene Forbes 566; Edith Owen 328; Regina Foster 547; Jackson Harcrow 145t; Steven Schmidgall 156; Cora Sweatt 145b; Richard Ivey 182; Ann Ballard 57; Ed Snell 460; Velton Chafin 573; Bernice Harvey 176b; John Hocutt 236. Elder Jesse Roberts led the prayer before lunch.

LUNCH

Jeb Owen called the class back together after lunch with song on page 47b. Leaders: Hugh McGuire 109; Ricky Harcrow 445; Carol Crawford 122; Barney Roberson 458; Regina Grayson 300; Tim Cook 511; H.J. Jackson 384; Erskine Vandegrift 59; Samuel Holloway 335; Mary Gardner 43; Lou Cotney 222; Ted Mercer 564; Kshama Ananthapura 319; Charles Kitchens 326; Julietta Haynes 200; Rodney Ivey 503; Ola Meadows 426t; Mark Brown 29t; Shelbie Sheppard 195.

RECESS

Louis Hughes called the class together leading song on page 31t. Leaders: Linda Shea 67; Danny Creel 269; Betty Jones 523; Liz Rogan 542; Jeannette DePoy 39b; Allison Schofield 442; Hannah Roberts 276; Scott DePoy 282; Matthew Wojcik 532; Amber Springfield 391; Janice Hecksel 481; Duncan Vinson 284; Barbara Swetman 203; Ashley Keeton 196; Jesse Roberts 299.

Buell Cobb and Mark Davis led song on page 323t to close the day’s session. Elder Ricky Harcrow led the closing prayer.

Saturday, June 17

Saturday’s session was called to order by Chairman Buell Cobb leading song on page 82 (t? b?). Louis Hughes led the opening prayer.

Leaders: Kathy Williams 180; John Redman 362; Rosemary Greenaway 171; Tom Owen 385t; Sharona Nelson 66; Don Bowen 350; Lee Rogers 425; Richard Mauldin 36b; Catherine Oss 189; Teenie Moody 430; Gary Smith 569b; Toney Smith 380; Bob Meek 384; Jim Crawford and Carol Crawford 268; Nate Green and Norma Green 389; Phillip Langley 112; Merle Mateika 475; Laura Clawson 72b.

RECESS

The class was called to order by Seth Holloway leading song on page 354b. Leaders: David Ivey 135; Mirjana Lausevic 131b; Jim Carnes 35; Tommy George and Jarrod George 146; John Plunkett 308; Mary Smith 302; Denise Morris 184; Sarah Beasley Smith 108t; Allison Ivey 300; Jeff Colby 335; Betty Wright 323b; Eloise Watkins 34b; David Carlton 106; Tim Reynolds 86.

RECESS

Richard DeLong called the class back leading song on page 134. Leaders: Susan Harcrow 178; Sandie Scott 40.

The memorial lesson followed. Lee Rogers made the following opening remarks. “As at each Sacred Harp convention, we pause in the midst of singing to remember those we have been privileged to sing with who have died since we last met here. Each year that I have been involved in Sacred Harp singing there are more names on the memorial list with whom I have personally shared song, and who have touched my life. Some of the people on this year’s list were unquestionably Sacred Harp heroes, who helped to shape the tradition and who have guided generations of singers. I came to know these people late in their lives, but not too late to be inspired by them. Every month I looked forward to Friday night singing with “Miss Dollie” Hudgins in Alpharetta, Georgia; her spirit has reached hundreds of new singers she never met through her grandson, Richard DeLong. Then there was Alabama’s own Virgil Phillips, whose warmth lit up a singing, even when he could no longer stand in the center of the square and lead us in song. His joy in “Liberty”, and his truly “Thankful Heart” we all share he made them a part of our culture.”

“But especially in our thoughts and hearts these last few days has been our most recent loss, one whose morning sun has set at noon. Karen House, who died earlier this week, was one of the many young singers who came to Sacred Harp as an adult. In many ways, in her enthusiasm and her musicality, she was typical of these young converts to Sacred Harp. I remember perhaps a dozen years ago when her sister Kelly brought her to a singing in Connecticut. I learned early in our acquaintance that Karen had a life endangering heart condition, but as I got to know her I almost forgot that, because she never let it keep her from singing or from living. Karen embraced life wholeheartedly, and that’s how she took to Sacred Harp music. We could count on seeing her down here two or three times a year; I had looked forward to singing with her this week, and I just learned that she was planning to spend most of the summer in Alabama, a dream she’d had for some time.”

“Karen knew better than most of us, and certainly earlier, that “the moment when our lives begin, we all begin to die.” She knew also how to live as fully as possible. I know she found comfort in these songs and in the warmth and support of the Sacred Harp community. So, too, these comfort us in the loss of those we’ve loved. Karen wanted her friends to remember her with joy and with singing. Certainly we have cause to celebrate the singers and friends of Sacred Harp, even as we mourn them. Karen and the others on today’s list helped show us how to live. Individually and as a community, we are all nourished by their spirits.” Kelly House spoke in memory of her sister, Karen, and how much the community of Sacred Harp had enriched their lives and led song on page 318.

Mike Hinton made the following remarks. “We Sacred Harp singers gather round a hollow square and raise our hearts and voices in praise to God. What other activity in our lives involves a hollow square? The hollow square seems to be a truly unique aspect of our tradition. Would the music be the same if the class sat in any other configuration? I don’t think any of us can consider Sacred Harp the same if the class sat like a choir, for instance.

So, what is special about the hollow square? First, it’s a place where we can do things “our” way. We choose a song, we pick the tempo, and we sing a tune. We sing as many verses as we choose. The leader leads friends in praises to our Lord and King. The hollow square is also a place where we watch a leader and we watch each other. We share glances; we shed a tear for a special song. We share each other. We sing together in musical fellowship. We gather in places all across this land and in lands far from here. We share hugs, concerns, celebrations, all within a few feet of this special place, this hollow square. Here we feel the Holy Spirit’s presence. Perhaps we are practicing for the day when we’ll gather round that eternal hollow square when we sing around God’s throne. There is no seat in the room where you can hear Sacred Harp like you can in the center of the square. Sometimes we want to dance or take wings and soar away.”

“Today we celebrate the lives and cherish the memories of some of our dear Sacred Harp singers. They have heard God say “come weary dove, here is thy home, come fold your wings and stay.” God called Virgil Phillips from Alabama: “Come, Virgil, leave your oxygen tank, here is your home to stay.” God called Ed Craig from Texas: “Come, Ed, leave your worn boots and come home to stay.” God called Mrs. Dollie DeLong Hudgins to leave family and friends and come home to stay.

I’m told that the last singing my grandfather attended he had three of his grown children there, they had all four parts covered that day. As he sang what was his last song, he walked to each of his children and shook hands with them. That song ended with these words:

Sing a sweet song such as angels may have

Praise ye the Lord that I’m freed from all care,

Pray ye the Lord that my joys ye shall share;

Look up on high and believe that I’m there,

When I am gone, when I am gone.”

The list of deceased was read: Homer Brothers, Virgil Phillips, Alice Williams, Everette Kilgo, Williard Hooper, James Theo Grayson, Ester Wall Brown, Antoinette Swetman, Dr. Clyde Terrell, and Dot Long—Alabama; Dollie DeLong Hudgins, Allene Lambert Stanford, and Lizzie Ralston—Georgia; Alice Kuiper—Illinois; Susan Hildreth and Vivian Roberts—North Carolina; Duward Scarbrough, Ruby Easley, and Neeva Dee Mayes—Mississippi; Patrick Waddell—California; Martin Ambrose—Kentucky; Chris Randgaard—Minnesota; Karen House and Karen Hamilton—New York; Catherine Dorsey—Ohio; Ed Craig—Texas; Tommie Lee Frederick Wigington—Virginia; Leslie Wragg—United Kingdom. Mike Hinton led song on page 235b for the deceased.

Jeb Owen led song on page 68b for the sick/homebound. Chaplain Tom Owen led prayer to close the memorial lesson.

Leader: Elene Stovall 440. Elder Jesse Roberts led the prayer before lunch.

LUNCH

The afternoon session was called together by Dennis George leading song on page 220. Leaders: Karen Ivey 405; Hugh McGraw 413; Jarrod George 358; Dorothea McCowan 304; Pam Nunn 236; Judy Mincey 501; Margie Dietz 312b; Daryl Chesney 163t; Jesse Roberts 379; Carroll Lunsford 153; Odom Hawkins 32t; Helen Brown 446; Rodney Ivey 186; Allison Schofield 448t; Amanda Denson 272.

RECESS

Warren Steel reconvened the session leading song on page 179. Leaders: Janice Hecksel 419; Kelly House 556; Lou Cotney 172; Anne Kazlauskas 173; Sharon Kellam 38b; Bradford West 282; Regina Foster 120; Allen Fannin 70b; Matthew Wojcik 56b; Cathryn Baker 361; Freeman Wootten 277; Peter Irvine 378b.

The convention went into a business session to hear committee reports. The Finance Committee, Don Bowen and John Redman, reported that contributions were such that all expenses of the convention were covered.

Resolutions Committee Report. We resolve to give thanks:

Firstly, to our Creator for His wondrous love and His gift to us of the ability to love and care for each other both in our times of joy and during the periods of our trials and tribulations; and assuredly for the hope of heaven we have through his amazing grace.

To the people who take registrations, prepare the food, set up the rooms and the meals, clean up, transport people, and so on. To paraphrase: “They also serve that listen to the singing and do the chores needed.”

To our officers and committees for their tireless efforts that have this convention running so smoothly and allow us to enjoy the fellowship and songs. Also to those special people in the front rows, who assist the leaders to “key” correctly, keep the proper beat and occasionally find an unused song for the day.

To Trinity United Methodist Church for allowing us to use their sanctuary again to sing our songs of praise and adoration, and to the church staff who worked to ensure we would have as few problems as possible.

To the authors of these inspired hymns, the people who kept the songs alive over the years by continuing to sing them in the traditional ways, our ancestors who loved this music so much they would not let it die, and everyone here today who continues to love and cherish these songs and the manner in which the lessons are sung that make Sacred Harp so unique and special to all of us.

To everyone who came by the past three days: Those who sang, those who listened, and those here in spirit while confined by time, distance, and circumstances but sharing with us through prayers and memories.

Therefore, we will further resolve to continue to support Sacred Harp singings and singers in the upcoming years and give our best efforts to meet here next year to sing together and share our fellowship again.

May God keep you in His love and care until we meet again, either on this side of our long sought home, or there with our loved friends who have gone on before to that bright, eternal day.

Resolved this 17th day of June in the year of our Lord 2000.

Sharona Nelson and Richard K. Mauldin, Jr.,—Resolutions Committee.

Secretary’s Report was given by Kathy Williams: 429 people from 25 states, Washington, D.C., and England registered over the three days of the convention. Of those, 115 leaders were responsible for the singing of 237 songs. The numbers by states and countries were: Alabama 276; Georgia 27; Tennessee 16; Massachusetts 14; Texas 13; Florida 9; North Carolina 8; Mississippi 8; Kentucky 8; Illinois 8; Minnesota 6; California 5; Wisconsin 5; New York 4; Rhode Island 4; Indiana 3; England 3; Washington DC 2; Ohio 2; Connecticut 1; Arizona 1; Oregon 1; New Jersey 1; Maryland 1; Washington 1; South Carolina 1; Louisiana 1.

A motion was made and carried that the reports be accepted and added to the minutes. The business session was closed.

The officers led song on page 62 as the closing song as the singers took the parting hand to close the convention. Chaplain Tom Owen led the closing prayer.

Following the singing, a large group of singers made the traditional trip to Alabama Folk Life Festival’s City Stages to present a program of Sacred Harp music.

Chairman—Buell Cobb; Vice Chairman—Mark Davis; Chaplain—Tom Owen; Secretary—Kathy Williams.