Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Garden State Singing Convention

Upper Montclair, New Jersey

May 17-18, 1996

Friday, May 17

The fourth annual session of the Garden State Sacred Harp Convention was held at the Montclair Friends’ Meeting House. The class was called to order by George Seiler, welcoming everyone and leading song on 31t. Blake Morris led the class in prayer. The business meeting was held with the election or appointment of the following officers: Co-Chairmen—Jean Seiler and George Seiler; Secretary—Gina Balestracci; Chaplain—Marlin Beasley; Arranging Committee—Paula McGray, Dan Hertzler, Dennis Leipold, and Blake Morris; Memorial Committee—Cora Sweatt, Bill Holt, and George Seiler; Resolutions Committee—Laura Densmore and Gary Smith; Reception Committee—Susan Bingham and Martha Jane Husick; Finance Committee—Karen Snowberg and Howard Katz; Food Committee—Virginia Douglas and Diane Mennella. Leaders: Jean Seiler 34b; Gina Balestracci 40; Dennis Leipold 101t; Ginny Landgraf 442; Guy Bankes 552 (?); Kyle Greenlee 147t; Susan Bingham 198; Doron Henkin 228; Cath Oss 336; Susan Wantland 200; Paul Gauthier 542; Barbara Swetman 196; Bill Mates 178; Ginnie Ely 159.

RECESS

The class resumed singing with Dan Hertzler leading song on page 84. Chairman George Seiler introduced David Ivey from Huntsville, Alabama, teacher of the singing school. Responding to questions from the class, David discussed various topics, leading tunes to illustrate: tempo (441, which he beat in 2 and in 4; 70t), modes of time (384, 30b, 163b), tunes that begin on an upbeat (64, 75), time changes and rests (448t), written and unwritten repeats (408), part doublings on all the parts (24 (t? b?)), pronunciation (35), songs not sung as notated (376), dynamics (235). David led song on page 186 and asked for other requests. Blake Morris requested 245, which Joe Beasley had led at last year’s convention, and was invited to lead it. The class then sang 101t, a favorite song of Leonard Lacy, who was David’s great-uncle and first singing-school teacher. David encouraged several people who had not led at conventions to join him in leading 117 and 417. He was then asked to end the singing school by leading 415, his own composition. Neely Bruce closed the session with prayer.

Saturday, May 18

On Saturday morning the class reassembled and the session was called to order by Jean Seiler leading song on page 47t. George Seiler led the opening prayer. Leaders: George Seiler 49b; Gina Balestracci 274t; Richard Schmeidler 66; Eric Johnson 150; Tim Slattery 217; Dick Levine 155; Karen Ivey 288; Sally Findley 455; Mryka Hall-Beyer 280; Frank Evans 315; Paula McGray 300; Howard Katz 492; Gary Smith 178; Tim Eriksen 83b; Dottie Hurley 145b; Bill Holt 430; Pat Temple 291; Karen Snowberg 547; Neely Bruce 173; Bob Parr 528; Marlin Beasley 40; Peter Irvine 448t; Stephen McMaster 282; David Ivey 106; Betty Hanf 479; Ann Ballard 209; Karen House 183; Sarah Smith 400.

RECESS

The class was called to order by Dennis Leipold leading song on page 299. Leaders: Laura Densmore 107; Miriam Kilmer 335; Gabriel Kastelle 385t; Kelly House 189; Bradford West 210; Kat Kinkade 368; Michael Kaye 48t; David Martin 47b; Allen Fannin 112; Roland Hutchinson 242; Jennifer Hodgdon 31t; Lynne deBenedette 481; Carol Werba 147t; Susan Wantland 168; Eleanor Soler 159; Paul Gauthier 131t; Doron Henkin 383. The memorial lesson began with Bill Holt leading 340 to honor the sick and shut-in: Paul Buffington and Bess Buffington—Delaware; Fred Leutner—Florida; Mary Wise—Ohio; Tony DeFusco, Emily Hirst-Martz, and Mary Marley—Pennsylvania; and Karen Dodd—Virginia. Cora Beasley Sweatt shared recollections of what Sacred Harp singing had meant to her family and to her brother, Joe Beasley, and reminded the class of the thanks we owe to all those Sacred Harp singers who have gone before us. She led the class in 72b, asking the class to reflect on the quote from Heb.13:5. Those who were remembered were: Joe Beasley (Alabama and New York), Joe Smith, and Dewey Williams—Alabama; Patricia Lang—Arizona; Nora Brignolo—Connecticut; Sam Klappert—Florida; Stephen Haseltine—Massachusetts; Dick Adams, Roberta Adams, Jose Barriero, Emil Schell, and Betty Schell—New Jersey; Joel Eriksen, Ruth Murray Fansler (New York and Pennsylvania); Margaret Kelly, Carmen Lewis, Robert Mottingdorfer, and Sybil Schwartz—New York; Sylvia Evans—Ohio; Betty G. Newberry—Tennessee; W. S. Atherton, Colin Campbell, and Carolyn Merrill—Virginia; John Snowberg—Wisconsin. George Seiler led 122 and read excerpts from a letter from Clarke Lee that concluded with these thoughts: “What a wonderful joy to share with one another the innermost feelings of the heart, and how overwhelming it all is sometimes. It is a great joy to be with others who feel and express their feelings, and share with others the joys and griefs of their own experiences of Sacred Harp, in their own way, without trying to make others see and believe as they do. May God continue to pour out His Blessings on we poor mortals. May we be blest to continue to share in the glories of Sacred Harp and find the true and lasting fellowship of Sacred Harp in the bounds of eternity, to be with the Lord and His children for ever and ever, Amen.” The morning session concluded with Jean Seiler leading song on 378t and Marlin Beasley leading a prayer.

LUNCH

The afternoon session was called to order by Ginnie Ely leading song on page 389. Three new songs followed, each led by its composer: Blake Morris, “Carillon,” written for this convention; Hal Kunkel, “Ten Thousand Charms”; and Roland Hutchinson, “Hallelujah New.” Jean Seiler led “Montclair,” written by Bruce Randall for the first Garden State Convention. Leaders: ten members of the Beasley family (Ann and Charles Ballard, Sarah and Gary Smith, Cora and Kirby Sweatt, Chuck and Johnnie Beasley, Marlin and Juanita Beasley) 146; Bill Mates 480; Cath Oss 56b; David Wilkie 160t; Joanne DeVoe 228; Mryka Hall-Beyer 269; Neely Bruce 484; Ginny Landgraf 504; Tim Slattery 192; Barbara Swetman 125; Tim Eriksen 285t. After announcements Jean Seiler called for the state count. The 144 singers came from 11 states and Canada: New Jersey 58; New York 27; Massachusetts 11; Pennsylvania 11; Alabama 10; Virginia 8; Maryland 5; Rhode Island 4; Connecticut 4; Vermont 3; Tennessee 2; Quebec 1.

RECESS

Sally Findley brought the class together leading song on page 474. Leaders: Jeff Colarusso 347; Karen Ivey 532; Chuck Beasley 33b; Tom Padwa 569b; David Ivey 553; Tom Gibney 501; Richard Schmeidler 254; Pat Temple 191; Kyle Greenlee 124; Eric Johnson 344; Bob Parr 260; Kat Kinkade 411; Howard Katz 362; Dan Hertzler 86; Gabriel Kastelle 89. The Resolutions Committee presented their report, in which they thanked all the officers, committees, and individuals whose efforts contributed to the success of the convention. Gary Smith said: “Sacred Harp is a song with many voices, with many accents, from many homes. It has many ages, and is ageless. It has become nationwide, and is becoming international. Sacred Harp is and has become an important, vibrant, encompassing part of our lives. In our past, we have traveled, fellowshipped, and, on occasion, endured some measure of hardship for our ‘peculiar’ blessing. We have seen Sacred Harp decline, but now we see it seeming to increase. We have seen examples of singers, living and dead, who have labored mightily to spread Sacred Harp, to root it thoroughly and securely in the only place which really matters, our hearts. Sacred Harp is vitally alive today, as evidenced by the composers whose works we have sung today. To honor those who have gone before, and to honor those who are even now laboring mightily in the Lord’s vineyard, let us now resolve together to continue that work, by singing, and going, and by living in the spirit which gives the Sacred Harp its voice.” Leaders: Guy Bankes 120; Karen Snowberg 99; Allen Fannin 45t; Miriam Kilmer 378 (t? b?); Kelly House 198; Gina Balestracci, Virginia Douglas, and Diane Mennella 268. George Seiler and Jean Seiler led song on page 62, with all present taking the “parting hand”. Marlin Beasley closed the convention with prayer.

Co-Chairmen—Jean Seiler and George Seiler; Secretary—Gina Balestracci.