Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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United Kingdom Sacred Harp Convention

Village Hall, Cumnor, Oxford, United Kingdom

September 13-14, 2003

Saturday, September 13

The eighth United Kingdom Sacred Harp Convention was called to order at 10.00 a.m. by Vice Chair Sheila Girling Macadam who welcomed all those attending, and announced that the Convention would be dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Ruth Brown and Gordon Ashman, who in their individual ways had influenced the lives of many present in Cumnor this day. She then led 34b. Helen Brown offered the opening prayer.

Chairman Edwin Macadam led song on page 84, and Sheila Girling Macadam introduced Shelbie Sheppard of Anniston, Alabama, who was to give singing schools on both Saturday and Sunday as guest leader of the Convention.

Shelbie introduced Jane Galant, daughter of Ruth Brown, and Pearl Guier, niece of Ruth Brown, and expressed her appreciation for their efforts in bringing the “bus tour” to England, the last trip that Ruth planned. Shelbie spoke of her first experiences of Sacred Harp singing and how several of the song titles provided her with happy memories of her youth in Georgia and Alabama. She drew attention to the religious aspect of Sacred Harp singing, which for her was like being in church by the depth of feelings the music and the words engendered. Shelbie commented on front bench decorum, leading styles, and the advantage of singing the tenor when leading a song. As a demonstration of how it was possible to improve on leading style, the following leaders were given help with technique: Bernard Collard 63; Dick Wolff 155; Jenny Ellis 29 (t? b?); Alice Metherell 209.


Mick Verrier brought the class back to order leading 201. Leaders: Pearl Guier 448b; Ros Clements 77b; Jeff Sheppard 75; Ruth Cooper 171; Reba Windom 192; Judy Whiting 212; Floy Wilder 430; Steve Fletcher 448t; Louis Hughes 112; Mandy Townsend 480; Eugene Forbes 405; Bernard Collard 70t; Elene Stovall 142; Paul Gailiunas 148; Linda Thomas 350; Dennis O’Brien 304; Rachel Jordan 501; Richard Schmeidler 474; Tony Singleton 163b; Matthew Wojcik 542; Margaret Gillanders 228; Pam Nunn 200; Ken Baddley 287; Paul Setford 273; LaRue Allen 222; Helen Brown 532; Lyra O’Brien 94; Ian West 32t; Rosie Wojcik 129; Dave Townsend 457; Adrian Bolge 72b; Hannah Cooper 133; Mick Verrier 163t; Shelbie Sheppard 195. Ruth Cooper offered grace for the noon meal.


The afternoon session was called to order by Sheila Girling Macadam leading 28t. Leaders: Edwin Macadam 66; Jill Thompson 504; Jeff Sheppard 325.

Steve Fletcher conducted a Celebration Lesson, reflecting on our need to give thanks for the good things that happen to us and to others. Jill Thompson read a list of those with special reasons to be joyful. We heard news of restoration of health, school success, a long-awaited move to part-time work, and a recent engagement. Tony Singleton led 40 to close the Celebration Lesson.

Leaders: Ros Clements 312b; Ruth Cooper 198; Reba Dell Windom 454; Judy Whiting 318; Floy Wilder 227; Steve Fletcher 77t; Louis Hughes 76b; Mandy Townsend 82t; Eugene Forbes 426b; Bernard Collard 149; Dennis George 215; Alan Weeks 306; Pleasance Crawford 313b; Nelda Henry 39b; Dennis O’Brien 299.


The singing resumed with Rachel Jordan leading 146. Leaders: Lou Cotney 218; David Moore 38t; Richard Schmeidler 254; Tony Singleton 86; Isabelle Walker 49t; Matthew Wojcik 270; Hannah Cooper 276; Pam Nunn and Misha Myers 269; LaRue Allen 302; Rosie Wojcik 440; Dave Townsend 434; Lyra O’Brien 216; Ian West 135; Helen Brown 327; Edwin Macadam 236; Sheila Girling Macadam 347; Shelbie Sheppard and Jeff Sheppard 56t. Louis Hughes offered the closing prayer.

A social evening of dance and song commenced with an Alternative Singing session led by Mick Verrier, taken from a collection of tunes submitted by Convention participants.

Sunday, September 14

Chairman Edwin Macadam called the convention to order at 10:00 a.m. leading 49t. Alan Weeks offered the opening prayer.

Sheila Girling Macadam led 28b and welcomed Shelbie Sheppard back for her second singing school of the convention. Shelbie invited Jane Galant and Pearl Guier into the square to lead 36b with her in memory of Ruth Brown. Shelbie continued to offer advice in leading skills and worked with Mick Verrier on the song on page 272. She laid great emphasis on the ability to give direction to the class, and called on Judy Caudle to demonstrate her leading of the song on page 193. Shelbie drew attention to the need for some tunes to be led by beating time in four and worked with Sheila Girling Macadam leading 28b as an example. The “Southern Bus” members were asked to sing 183 to indicate an instance of the raised 6th, together with a change in tempo. She encouraged everyone to quit analyzing every detail of a song and just sing for the pure pleasure of singing.


Matthew Wojcik brought the class back to order leading 81t. Leaders: Phil Tyler 340; Floy Wilder 224; Adrian Bolge 515; Lou Cotney 384; Judy Whiting 178 (for Arwen Lockley, taken ill during the session and about to be driven home); Jeff Sheppard 176 (t? b?); Margaret Gillanders 523; Dennis O’Brien 240; Ken Baddley 481; Catherine Tyler 148; Dave Richardson 278t; Linda Thomas 472; Jill Thompson 99; Louis Hughes 492; Rachel Jordan 473; Alan Weeks 479; Judy Caudle 94; Paul Setford 410t; Reba Windom 196; Bernard Collard 49b; Pleasance Crawford and Chris Crawford 147t; Tony Singleton 300; Pam Nunn 280; Steve Fletcher 38b.

Ken Baddley conducted the memorial lesson using the analogy of the central character of “The Man Who Planted Trees” by Jean Giono, considered the work of the lives of Ruth Brown and Gordon Ashman. Ruth Brown had for years been instrumental in organizing the “Southern Bus: singers’ visits to Sacred Harp singing throughout the United States. The fruits of her labors were in seeing the happiness she enabled so many people to share in the gift of song. Gordon Ashman, as co-founder of the West Gallery Music Association, made no less an impact on the lives of many of the UK Sacred Harp community. Deep and lasting friendships, devoted relationships, and marriages had happened as a result of his deep and enthusiastic commitment to English Psalmnody. Both Ruth Brown and Gordon Ashman had been planters of trees. Ken Baddley led 490 for the deceased. Those we remembered were: Gordon Ashman, Jim Bundell, Roger Lewis, Roger March, Will Thomas, Stanley Stokes, Jack Bower, Rosie Whiffen, Roy Cavie, Charlie Lawrence, Gordon Sibthorpe, Tara Tierney, Jane Darnell, Frederick Cramp, Wendy Lawrinson, and Will Atkinson—United Kingdom; Ruth Brown, Leola Smith, Elder Donald Smith, Lamar Smith, and Harvey Austin—Alabama; Richard Morganson—Connecticut; Grandma Fross—Washington; Betal Liotta—Ontario, Canada.

For the sick and housebound, Bernard Collard told us how important it was to reach out to those who are in difficulty. He recalled instances of when those housebound might go for days without talking to anyone at all. It is so easy to pick up the phone, just do it, you might make someone’s day.

Isabelle Walker read the names of the sick and housebound, and Sheila Girling Macadam led 36b in their honor. Those remembered were: Stan Whiting, Mike Whiting, Derek Winstanley, Mary Kellaway, John McDougall, Gladwys Carlin, Paul Butler, Joan Stocks, Len Roles, Mel Browne, Pat Francis, Jenny Dean, Annie Molnar, Evelyn Ward, Connor McDougall, Rosalind Oldham, Barbara Foster, Rob Mahoney, Gordon Long, Win Tyler, Arwen Lockley, Davis Morganson, Dorothy Morganson, Jap Walton, and Joyce Walton. The memorial was concluded.

Edwin Macadam led “For What Thou Dost Provide” (Moore’s Divine Companion, 1750), and together with Ian Ferguson, offered grace for the noon meal.


The afternoon session was called to order by Mandy Townsend leading 84. Leaders: Eugene Forbes and Mary Frances Forbes 143; Ruth Cooper 441; Dennis George 455; Ros Clements 457; Nelda Henry and Floy Wilder 108t; Dave Townsend 33b; Richard Schmeidler 543; Helen Brown 556; LaRue Allen 528; Mick Verrier 146 (for his daughter, Emily); Rosie Wojcik 442; Edwin Macadam, Elspeth Chantler, and Vonnie Chantler 276.


The final session was brought to order by Sheila Girling Macadam, Dave Elliott, and Dave Wood leading 186. Leaders: Lyra O’Brien 553; Paul Gailiunas 335; Elene Stovall 430; Lou Cotney 172; Catherine Tyler, Carmel Wood, and Vicki Elliott 268; Dennis O’Brien 339; Reba Windom and Shelbie Sheppard 216; Mandy Townsend 106; Rachel Jordan 269; Matthew Wojcik 189; Dennis George 208; LaRue Allen 373; Jeff Sheppard 220; Shelbie Sheppard 211; Shelbie Sheppard and Elene Stovall 436 (by request).

Sheila Girling Macadam thanked Shelbie, and presented her with an Oxford University canvas bag as a memento of the convention. She also thanked Jeff Sheppard for making the journey across the Atlantic to accompany Shelbie and presented him with a small gift.

Announcements of forthcoming singings were made, and the Chairman then called for the officers’ reports.

The Arranging Committee announced that 79 songs were led on Saturday and 63 on Sunday (including the workshop pieces), 101 singers attended over the weekend, including 28 (t? b?) from America and 3 from Canada.

Richard Schmeidler gave the Resolutions Committee report, and proposed a vote of thanks to all those who made this convention possible.

  • First and foremost it is right that we give thanks to Almighty God who has brought us all together to enjoy the gift of fellowship in song;
  • Edwin and Sheila Macadam, for organizing the convention;
  • Chaplain Bernard Collard, and Assistant Chaplain Ken Baddley;
  • The chancellors of the convention exchequer, Alan Weeks and Ken Baddley;
  • The pitchers—Rachel Jordan, Helen Brown and Jeff Sheppard;
  • Food co-ordination team of Ann Weeks, Jenny Ellis, Jean Barton, Sue Setford, and Isabelle Walker;
  • The registration team of Judy Whiting, Rachel Jordan, Isabelle Walker, and Bernard Collard;
  • The site co-ordination by Adrian Bolge and Alan Weeks, and;
  • The Alternative Singing Session team of Mick Verrier, Ken Baddley, and Tony Singleton.

Bernard Collard offered the parting prayer, and the outgoing committee invited the incoming committee organizing the 2004 convention to join them in the square to lead song on page 62 as the class took the parting hand.

Chairman—Edwin Macadam; Vice Chairman; Secretary—Sheila Girling Macadam.