Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Southern California Regional Singing

San Pedro, California

May 18, 1996

The fourth annual Southern California Regional Sacred Harp Singing met on Saturday before the third Sunday in May. The class was called to order by Carla Smith leading song on page 59. Jim Friedrich offered the opening prayer: Come Holy Spirit, Holy Breath. Fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with praise, that our voices may well up from the deep places, and this room may thunder with the power of abundant life. Tune our songs to the pitch of divinity that we may express to the full the blessing of our humanity to the glory of Your Name, Amen. Rick Russell led song on page 270. The class organized by electing or appointing the following officers: Chairman—Carla Smith; Vice Chairman—Gerry Hoffman; Arranging Committee—Rick Russell; Secretary—Gerry Hoffman; Memorial Committee—Susan Turpin; Treasurer—Jerry Schreiber; Chaplain—Jim Friedrich. Leaders: Karen Willard 37b, 28b; Susan Turpin 290, 95; Midge Harder 222, 58; Carolyn Deacy 196, 178; Janet Herman 192, 500; Jim Friedrich 344, 324; Jon Rand 271t; 285t; Al Patterson Grindon 63, 147t; Tom Ostwald 209, 504; Chris Thorman 474, 120; Paul Booth 29b, 65.


Janet Herman brought the class back together leading song on page 276. Leaders: Janice Hecksel 159, 485; Jerry Schreiber 217, 198; Mary Rose O’Leary 475, 542; Marc Weyl 49b, 128; Betty Herman 29t, 372; Gerry Hoffman 216, 182. At this time, Susan Turpin presented the memorial: It is now time for our memorial lesson, the time in a Sacred Harp convention when we remember and honor singers, friends, and family who have died in the past year. When we come to this time, we feel grief at our loss. Life is a gift, and this gift has ended for those we have named. Our grief is the grief of love. If we had not loved, we would not now be grieving, and so we can be grateful even for our grief. As we grieve, we realize there is something else about this memorial lesson. My dear friends and companions, it’s the reminder that the journey taken by these friends and loved ones awaits us one day. Death is inevitable. We will all one day face death. And so we wonder, what is this experience of death? What happens when we die? It seems it might be easier if someone would just tell us in plain language, if maybe our scientists could tell us like they tell us about what happens out in space and what goes on inside the cell. But it is not to be. Death seems to be more like the experience of love, more suited to the language of poetry than of science. In these songs we sing, we find rich poetry, with myriad reflections on death. The language is about crossing Jordan’s stream, being on our way to Canaan. I assure you, the writers of the lyrics are not talking about chartering a bus to go see Canaan. No, they’re talking about going home to heaven. And how does this language describe heaven, this glorious home above? As a place where “sickness and sorrow, pain and death are felt and feared no more”; a place where there are “Sweet fields arrayed in living green and rivers of delight.” Just as our Sacred Harp singing is not a place of preaching any dogma, but rather a place to lift our hearts and voices in harmonious music, so this poetry is not meant to be analyzed and evaluated, but rather to be pondered in our hearts. Let the music and words touch your heart and allow your understanding to slowly unfold in what is true for you. And so now as I read the names of those who have gone before us, let us give thanks for all that we have received in the gift of their lives, and in the vision unfolding in each of our hearts, Come let us join our friends above that have obtained the prize, And on the eagle wings of love to joy celestial rise: Connecticut—Carolyn Merrill. New Jersey—William Downin. California—Sandy Bayba, Niles Merton, John Lashley, Chris Reader, and J.R Kiehl. Susan Turpin then led 312t and 163b for the deceased, and song on page 340 for the sick and shut-in: California—Catherine Calahan of Santa Barbara, Karen Huss and Margaret Clark of Los Angeles; Ohio—John Bayer, Sr. Singing was resumed by Stephen O’Leary leading song on page 212; Carla Smith 375, 376. Jim Friedrich said grace, and the class was dismissed for lunch.


The class was called back from lunch by Midge Harder leading song on page 46. Leaders: Ron Huss 91, 96; Jean Olson 421, 84; Carri Patterson Grindon 203, 146; Laura Boyd 365, 156; Karen Willard 448t, 448b; Fred Wilkey 510, 31t; Natalie Hall 133, 454; Michael Laube 332, 48b; Rick Russell 48t, 291.


Singing was resumed by Chris Thorman leading song on page 40. Leaders: John Ostwald 268; Sharon Berman 117; Chris Thorman 269; Paul Booth 347; Jim Friedrich 410t; Janet Herman 411; Tom Ostwald 455; Carolyn Deacy 299; Jerry Schreiber 528; Mary Rose O’Leary 213t; Jon Rand 385t; Betty Herman 442; Susan Turpin 34t; Laura Boyd 384; Gerry Hoffman 278t; Carla Smith 137; Stephen O’Leary 300; Rod Willard and Karen Willard 408; Al Patterson Grindon 385b; Marc Weyl 107; Carri Patterson Grindon 497. The Resolutions Committee then thanked God who made the music possible and made us able to sing it and get such pleasure from it; thanks to all who put the convention on, particularly those performing the duties; thanks to those who brought all the delicious food; and thanks to all who came, and especially those who came from great distances. The class was dismissed by Carla Smith leading song on page 62. Jim Friedrich gave the closing prayer: O Mystery beyond our knowing, You have risen up among us in the glory of sound, You have moved in our hearts through the joy of community. As we take the parting hand, may we never be parted from You, but take Your Presence with us into all the places we go—as the spirit of love and joy and community by which You are renewing the face of creation. Keep us safe on our journey home, and bring us together again and again, until the day when there will be no more partings, and we shall shout and sing and feast with You forevermore, Amen.

Chairman—Carla Smith; Vice Chairman—Gerry Hoffman; Secretary—Gerry Hoffman (with assistance from Janet Herman and Jerry Schreiber).