Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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All-California Sacred Harp Singing Convention

Old Poway Park, Poway, California

January 20-21, 2001

Saturday, January 20

The thirteenth annual All-California Sacred Harp Singing Convention met in Templars Hall, Old Poway Park, Poway, California on the third Sunday and Saturday before in January. Carolyn Deacy opened the Saturday session of the singing leading song on page 36b. Jim Friedrich offered the opening prayer. Janice Hecksel welcomed everyone who was in attendance and led song on page 324.

A business meeting was conducted with the following officers elected or appointed to serve: Chairman—Janice Hecksel; Vice Chairman—Rick Russell; Secretary—Jerry Schreiber; Arranging Committee—Carla Smith, Carolyn Deacy, and Jon Giles; Treasurer—Carroll Lunsford; Chaplain—Jim Friedrich; Memorial—Carol Selleck; Resolutions—Betty Herman and Janet Herman.

Leaders: Janice Hecksel 120; Rick Russell 515b; Jerry Schreiber 318; Jon Giles 425; Marcia Tucker 86; Carla Smith 112; Alisa Shor 207; Carroll Lunsford 390; Leon Ballinger 299; Midge Harder 510; Laura Russell 156; Lissa Callirhoe 442; Jim Friedrich 178; Mark Miller 422.


Jon Giles called the class back to order leading song on page 291. Leaders: Harlan Van Camp 492; Carla Fournier and Jeff Sheppard 528; Sandy Klein 209; Ron Huss 311; Betty Herman 430; Louis Hughes 135; Pat Keating 276; Jon Rand 201; Daniel Davis 344; Claire Singleton and Daniel Davis 228; Jeff O’Toole 523; Ed Stevens 455; David Ivey 273; Steve Lazicki and David Ivey 337; Hugh McGuire 204; Sally Gwylan 102.


Rick Russell called the class back to order leading song on page 101t. Leaders: John Schaffer 66; Larry Arnstein 34b; Norma Ruptier 497; Steven O’Leary 131t; Pat Lazicki and Jerry Schreiber 312b; Katharine Hough and David Hough 569b; Claire Simon 551; Duncan McLeod 270; Gerry Hoffman 477; Janet Herman 421; Susan Fetcho and Mark Miller 147t; Carolyn Deacy 448b; Aaron Kahn 107; Chris Thorman 280; Rick Russell 448t.


The class resumed singing with Janice Hecksel leading song on page 63. Leaders: Jeff Sheppard and Carol Selleck 388; Reba Windom 192; Shelbie Sheppard 269; Karen Ivey 217; Steven O’Leary 215; David Hough 137; Leon Ballinger 212; Midge Harder 271t; Laura Russell 234; Jon Giles 408; Carla Smith 202; Mark Miller 29t; Janice Hecksel 480; Louis Hughes 335; Janet Herman 384; Jerry Schreiber 58; Betty Herman 500.


Norma Ruptier called the class back leading song on page 479. Leaders: Katherine Hough 40; David Ivey 129; Carroll Lunsford 339; Hugh McGuire 68t; Anita Sanders 267; Reba Windom 142; Don Klein 446; Colin Golden and Carla Smith 39t; Katherine Herbig 47b; Shelbie Sheppard 28b; Carol Selleck 282; Alisa Shor 131b; Karen Ivey 532.


The class resumed singing with Laura Russell leading song on page 203. Leaders: Gary Breitbard 37b; Jim Friedrich 163b; Chris Thorman 287; Jeff O’Toole 68b; Claire Simon 47t; Jeff Sheppard 300, 140; Gerry Hoffman 126; Jon Rand 404; Rick Russell 503.

Announcements were made. Janice Hecksel led song on page 46 as the closing song. Jim Friedrich offered the closing prayer, and the class was dismissed.

Sunday, January 21

The second day of the convention met again in Templars Hall on Sunday with Janice Hecksel lead the opening song on page 49t. Jim Friedrich offered the morning prayer.

Leaders: Janice Hecksel 168; Rick Russell 40; Jerry Schreiber 217; Sandy Klein 146; Gary Smith 569b; Anne Pettit and Midge Harder 117; Tom Ostwald 504; Shelly Phillips 58; Jack Herbig 155; Jon Giles 182; Karen Huss 236; Sally Gwylan 65; Harlan Van Camp 369; Mary Rose O’Leary 306; Seth Holloway 388; Daniel Davis 423; Mary Ann O’Toole and Mark Miller 254; Sarah Smith 145b; John Schaffer 515.


Jon Rand called the class back to order leading song on page 77t. Leaders: Marcia Tucker 280; Chris Thorman 335; Marion Black, Judy Getrich, Lisa Brown, and Lisa Koide 28t; Steven O’Leary, Lucy O’Leary, Rachel O’Leary, and Isaac O’Leary 81t; Ed Stevens 373; Gary Breitbard 36b; Hugh McGuire 36t; Rick Pettit and Ed Stevens 122; Jon Giles and Carolyn Deacy 123 (t? b?); Ron Huss 99; Rick Russell 200; Leon Ballinger 490; Mark Miller 368; Karen Ivey 475; Alisa Shor 290; Janet Herman 542; Anita Sanders 84; Gerry Hoffman 385t; Louis Hughes 565; Laura Russell 189; Jeff O’Toole 66; Carol Selleck 424; Duncan McLeod 288; Jim Friedrich 501.

Carol Selleck presented the following memorial lesson. “I would like to open our memorial lesson by acknowledging its significance to our convention. It is important to us, because in paying tribute to our deceased and bedfast singers, we are reminded of the seriousness of maintaining the oral traditions we have inherited from them. The names that we are memorializing at this convention are our connections to a long-standing tradition of which we all here today are a member. The tradition has survived through committed individuals who have passed on; but in passing, have passed the tradition on to their children, and so became the connectors linking us here today in Poway, California to those groups singing in a hollow square some 200 years ago.

It is a tradition with simple roots, beginning in colonial times where dedicated singers devised a system of quickly teaching four-part music to every person who had a desire to sing for pleasure in the spiritual mode. Our a cappella music, written by our fellow singers and transferred from one book to another, adding an alto part here or an extra verse, is not as cut and dried as scripted music such as a Bach fugue. It reflects where it’s being sung and the tempo of the convention, more a reflection of the singer than a mandate from the composer. That privilege of interpretation is a unique quality, one that is treasured. And so, today as we think of each Sacred Harp singer who has left our midst, we remember each individual and their unique contribution to our singings”.

Carol Selleck read the list of names of the deceased: Ma Renu, Arthur Allen, Marie Chansler, Sam Zukerman, Marion Dunn, Alethea Campbell, and Ann Payne—California; Karen House—New York; Gina Diguisto and Emma Venier—France; Louise Paquette—Massachusetts; Paul Kermiet—Kentucky; Richard Coultes, Woodie Walker, Marie Aldridge, Virgil Phillips, Ruby Phillips, and Gene Wakefield—Alabama; Tommie Lee Fredick—Virginia.

Carol Selleck then led song on page 410t, “The Dying Californian”, the first three verses, read additional verses to that poem, and led the last verse of the song, and continued by saying that “we are grateful for our inheritance from these singers, composers, leaders, cooks, and organizers. Not only have we inherited a unique tradition, but also the happiest legacy in this world. Sacred Harp music makes us happy, even when we sing sad songs of despair, our hearts soar with those haunting minor chords.

I have a favorite author named Hannah Smith who wrote ‘The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life’ in 1871. She outlined a simple approach on how to apply religious principles to everyday living. It’s been a roadmap to help me maintain a little peace and happiness in this chaotic world since I bought her book twenty-five years ago in Glens Falls, New York. But there’s a four-syllable short cut to that secret of having a happy life that we who are gathered here today know about, it’s the fa sol la mi short cut. When we discover the joys of sitting in a communal group of singers, singing all day and night for two days, we go home happy, with hearts a little purer after a total immersion of soul singing. It works every time and it has turned us into a nomadic tribe of convention goers.

But, as we travel the circuit, at each convention there are a few empty seats. Sometimes it will be that of a close friend, or a fellow singer that sat next to us, and then there are among us those who may be widowed or lost a mother or a father, and that grief is even harder to bear.

I have written a poem about how we get through that grief and would like to share this with you.

If at some moment you go on, be still,

He’ll hold you and lift you upon His shoulder,

For safety till that moment’s gone.

He’ll carry you daily and watch you by night,

Tend to your sadness, and dress wounds so tight,

That all your encumbrances start to feel light,

Until you can say, Lord I think its okay

For me to get down now and be on my way.

And thanks, Lord, for picking me up on this day.

So hear now Isaiah and his prophecy

That peace as a river forever yours be

And righteousness yours as the waves of the sea,

That your steps be His steps as onward you go,

And your song be heard through the rain and the snow,

Like Sacred Harp singers who sing what we know,

And may your afflictions be brief and not broad,

May every sad moment be less than a nod,

And may we all help one another to God.

It is fitting at this time to think back once more on each Sacred Harp singer who has left us this past year. We want to thank them for being our connectors to the happy life. We are so grateful for every note they shared with us. We will miss each bass, each alto, each lead, and each treble that can no longer be with us; we will miss them so much; but we do not begrudge their departure, because it is their time to sing a different song.

So, as we say goodbye to them, let the shape notes converge from all of our conventions to form mighty waves of sound, upon which their souls may ride to the shores of glory, to attend that great and final singing in the sky.”

Jim Friedrich read the names of the sick and shut-ins: Susan Turpin and Greg Johnson—Colorado; Gretchen Jaeger—Maine; Muriel Parker—Maryland; Ines Jeannopoulos and Brennan Pelosi—New York; Mia Durso, Elsie Allen, John Cotter, and Tibby O’Leary—California; Richard DeLong—Georgia; Connie Karduck and Ted Mercer—Illinois; Johnny Jeans and Joanne Hoover—Washington; Elsie Beasley—Alabama; Eleazer Rand—D.C.; Pauline Childers—Michigan.

Jim Friedrich spoke of the hollow square as the place where the line between life and death is very thin, so that when we pray and sing in the hollow square, we do so not for the departed, but with them. He offered a prayer to conclude the memorial lesson.

Leaders: Katharine Hough 378b; Carla Smith 330b.


Rick Russell called the class back to order leading song on page 145 (t? b?). Leaders: David Hough 496; Shelbie Sheppard 327; Carroll Lunsford 162; David Ivey 216; Midge Harder 455; Reba Dell Windom 196; Claire Simon 347; Jeff Sheppard 304; Aaron Kahn 268; Betty Herman 31t; Jane Campbell 49b; Chloe Webb 323 (t? b?); Claire Singleton 350; Jon Rand 285t; Janice Hecksel 389; Karen Ivey 76b.


Jerry Schreiber brought the class to order leading song on page 203. Leaders: Hugh McGuire 402; Mary Rose O’Leary 318; Jeanne Schaffer 143; Shelly Phillips 38b; Laura Russell 317; Stan Jensen and Jerry Schreiber 454; Jeff Sheppard 225t; Jim Delphey and Janet Herman 32b; Louis Hughes 153; Melanie Keppler and Jerry Schreiber 128; Leon Ballinger 460; Mimi Wright 159; Reba Dell Windom 224; David Fetcho 85; David Ivey 24b; Marion Black 53; Shelbie Sheppard 195.


Jon Giles brought the class back to order leading song on page 498. Leaders: Steven O’Leary 512; Marcia Tucker 547; Mark Miller 197; Tom Ostwald 126; Gary Smith, Sarah Smith, and Seth Holloway 354b; Katharine Hough 183.

A business meeting was called for, and the Secretary, Treasurer, and Resolutions committee offered reports.

The report of the Resolutions Committee is here included.

It takes many people, and lots of work, to put together a great convention like this, and we would like to give thanks to the following:

  • The San Diego singers for inviting us here and, as usual, being such gracious and hospitable hosts;
  • Chairman Janice Hecksel and all the officers and committees for all their hard work;
  • Everyone who cooked and brought food and worked so hard on the great dinners;
  • The singers who came from near and far to join together and, especially, everyone who came from out of state to help make this All-California Convention such a success;
  • Jeff Sheppard and David Ivey for doing the pitching;
  • Jon Giles for organizing the alternative singing;
  • The City of Poway and Old Poway Park for the use of this wonderful facility, and the San Diego Folk Heritage Society for their sponsorship;
  • Trader Joe’s and Henry’s Market for their donations, and the Hamburger Factory for their support and help;
  • And, finally, the generations of Sacred Harp songwriters, who have passed on this legacy, gathered here this weekend, a legacy of joy.

Announcements were made. Janice Hecksel and Rick Russell led song on page 62 as the closing song, and those who wished took the parting hand. Jim Friedrich offered a closing prayer and the class was dismissed.

Chairman—Janice Hecksel; Vice Chairman—Rick Russell; Secretary—Jerry Schreiber.