Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Pennsylvania Regional Singing

Maidencreek Meetinghouse, near Leesport, Pennsylvania

August 31, 1996

The Berks County Sacred Harp Singers hosted an all-day regional singing on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, August 31, 1996 at the historic Maidencreek Meetinghouse (built 1759) near Leesport, Pennsylvania, north of Reading, Pennsylvania. The singers hope to make this an annual event for the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 1997. Officers: Chairman—Guy Bankes; Arrangements—Doron Henkin; Set-up—Pat Pingle; Registration—Susan Munch; Chaplain—George Seiler; Pitching—Ruth Shaffer, Jean Seiler, Paula McGray, and Gabriel Kastelle; numerous other arranging activities—Betty Hanf. Singers attended from six states: Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. There was 74 songs led, three in German and five from sources other than The Sacred Harp. The singing was called to order by Guy Bankes leading song on page 49t. The opening prayer was led by George Seiler. Leaders: Guy Bankes 77b, 350; Doron Henkin 300, 117; Betty Hanf 479, 63; Gabriel Kastelle 68b, 500; Jean Seiler 65, 200; Carol Werba 556, 163t; Paula McGray 215, 163b; Dennis Leipold 83t, 52t; Molly Sayvetz 344, 171, Kat Kincade 372, 542.


Guy Bankes called the class to order leading song on page 350. Leaders: George Seiler 31t, 168; Hal Kunkel 137, 392; Roland Hutchinson 287, 112; Tim Wheeler 377, 34b; Guy Bankes 147t (offerings); Gina Balestracci 430, 389; Diane Menella 551, 86; Susan Mantland 299, 56b. Guy Bankes gave a memorial lesson, and George Seiler led song on page 347. Guy Bankes closed the memorial lesson with prayer, a minute of silence, and led song on page 549. Leaders: Ellie Soler 46, 457; Jon Hewes 268, 84.


Guy Bankes called the class to order leading song on page 276. Ruth Shaffer spoke on the history of shape-note singing schools in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and on the local German language shape note tradition. She demonstrated by leading Als Koenig David hatte vernommen (David’s Lamentation), 206 of Die Union Choral Harmonie complied by H. C. Eyer, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania 1839; Reading (Verwiff, O Herr), 192 of Die Pennsylvanische Choral Harmonie, compiled by T. Weber, Hellertown, Pennsylvania 1886 14th edition; and Pottsville (Gottlob ich wiess nun wohl wohin); 92 of Die Union Choral Harmonie. These songs were done in shapes, German, and English by the singers.


Guy Bankes called the class together leading song on page 474. A session of new and old shape note music from sources other than The Sacred Harp was held at this time. Gabriel Kastelle led his composition “Wounded Heart”; Roland Hutchinson led William Billings’ “Sappho”; Doron Henkin led his arrangement of “Balm in Gilead”, and his composition “Praise”; Diane Menella led Roland Hutchinson’s composition “Hallelujah New”; Hal Kunkel led his composition “Ten Thousand Charms”. Singing resumed of songs from The Sacred Harp. Leaders: Doron Henkin 113; Jean Seiler 313b; Kat Kincade 411; Molly Sayvetz 178.


Guy Gankes called the class to order leading song on page 474. Leaders: Ellie Soller 184; Gina Balestracci 236; Dennis Leipold 186; Paula McGray 156; George Seiler 148. Guy Bankes thanked the organizers, singers, and especially Betty Hanf, founder of the Berks County Sacred Harp Singers, for site selection, coordination, and leadership. Guy Bankes read from an obituary for William Billings in honor of his coming 250th birthday. Betty Hanf spoke on the history of the Maidencreek Meetinghouse, built in 1759 and moved to its present location above Lake Ontelaunee by the city of Reading in 1926. Leaders: Carol Werba 91; Tim Wheeler 30 (t? b?); Diane Menella 486; John Hewes 254; Gabriel Kastelle 421; Hal Kunkel 373; Roland Hutchinson 245; Doron Henkin 260. The class concluded with song on page 62, and closed with prayer led by George Seiler. The Berks County Sacred Harp singers thank all those who travelled far and near to join us in song.

Chairman—Guy Bankes; Secretary—Doron Henkin.