Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Camp Fasola 2011 Adult Session

Camp McDowell, near Double Springs, Alabama

June 12 - 15, 2011

Sunday, June 12

Arrival, Check-In, and Orientation

Campers arrived at 4:00 p.m. to check in, receive their t-shirts, room assignments, schedules, and settle in. After supper at Stough Dining Hall, staff and campers met in the chapel for an orientation meeting with Camp Director, David Ivey. He provided an overview of the history of Camp Fasola, and then explained the schedule and program for this year’s sessions. Camp Fasola is a non-profit endeavor of the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association (SHMHA). SHMHA has no paid staff; all are volunteers. SHMHA accepts donations and is a 501 (c) (3) organization.

Evening Singing

The Sunday evening class singing was organized by the campers staying in St. Mary’s Lodge. The following officers served: Chairman—Robert Kelley; Secretary—Elizabeth Stoddard; Arranging Committee—Phillipa Stoddard and Gillian Inksetter. The opening prayer was offered by Al McCready.

Leaders: Robert Kelley 38b; David Ivey 556 (for Jeff and Shelbie Sheppard); Gillian Inksetter 489; Fred Hoerr 30b; Lela Crowder 313b; Bill Hayes 131b; Ann Mashchak 569b; Blake Sisemore and Richard Ivey 446; Barbara Swetman 383; Daniel Lee 99; Lois Badey 347; Chris Brown 512; Mary Skidmore 497; Stephanie Turney 159; Leon Pulsinelle 485; Paula Picton 300; Roberta Strauss 32t; Eugene Forbes 212; Elizabeth Stoddard 131t; Cheryl Foreman 53; Wendy Futral 100; Steven Rogers 33b; Joanne Fuller 129; Terry Barber 70b; Frank DeBolt 452; Nicoletta Rogers 384; Angela Myers 81t; Rick Foreman 107; Melanie Hauff 30t. Robert Kelley led 566 as the closing song. Aubrey Hemminger presented the evening devotional, and dismissed the class with prayer.

Monday, June 13

Every day there are lessons, electives, opportunities for recreation or relaxation, recess periods with snacks, and an evening class singing, along with opportunities to socialize.


7:00 a.m. Campers could choose to hike, swim, or sing from the Lloyd’s Hymnal, led by Eugene Forbes and Tom Malone. Breakfast followed at 8:00 a.m.

Lesson: Rudiments I/Basics

9:00 a.m. David Ivey introduced himself and gave an overview of this class to include modes of time, and major and minor scales. David stated that you learn music by hearing it, singing it, and attending singing schools. He suggested that each student go through the Rudiments section page by page, and even look at the Rudiments sections of previous editions of the Sacred Harp.

David asked the class to turn to page 14 of the Rudiments that covers Rhythmics and reviewed this subject. He continued on page 17-Melodics; page 18-Scales; page 20-Dynamics; and page 21-Meter. The class reviewed each of these subjects.

David further explained all of the items found on the page of a song. You will find the name of the tune and meter, a bible verse, the key of the tune, the source of poetry, and the name of the tune writer. Each song contains four staffs and a time signature. For a beginning singer, he suggested that you start singing the tenor part. Keying the tune was briefly discussed and how to find the beginning note of each part when the key is sounded. David emphasized to always sound the chord!

David showed the class three books written by Sacred Harp singers, and suggested that everyone read these books. The books are Warren Steel’s, “Makers of the Sacred Harp”, Buell Cobb’s, “The Sacred Harp”, Chloe Webb’s, “Legacy of the Sacred Harp”. All of these writers will teach sessions at this camp.

The class sang 383 and 312b, examples of minor tunes. The songs on pages 111b, 378t, 39b, 39t were referenced. The song on page 438 was discussed concerning D.S. and Fine notations, and their meaning. David’s advice on repeats was to watch the leader. He said that if you repeat the notes, always repeat the words. Most times, the notes in a fuging tune, such as 155, are repeated.

Songs with only three lines were addressed, and the formula is that the tenor line is always the one above the bottom line.

The class sang 49t. David suggested that as a beginning singer; try to sit next to an experienced singer. The class came to a close with a homework assignment to read Chapter’s 1, 2, 3, and 6 from the Rudiments.

Lesson: Rudiments I / Intermediate

9:00 a.m. Dan Brittain led 31b to bring the class to order. Wade Kotter offered the opening prayer.

Dan began by stating that Rudiments are slightly different due to regional backgrounds and preferences. Dan opened the class for discussion on major and minor scales.

A handout was provided on modes of time. The first mode of common time is 2/2 with 70t and 49t for reference. The second mode of common time is 4/4 with 32t, 37b, and 172 referenced. The third mode of common time is 2/4 with 85 referenced. The first mode of triple time is 3/2 with 163b referenced. The second mode of triple time is 3/4 with 393 referenced. The first mode of compound time is 6/4 with 146 and 98 referenced. The second mode of compound time is 6/8 with 57 and 204 referenced.

The class sang 34t as part of a discussion on meter. Dan highlighted the meters portion on page 21 in the Rudiments.

The class sang 35 to discuss the key note in major and sang 385b for the key note in minor. For examples of songs with time changes, the class sang 234, 43, and 417.

Dan addressed a question of when and when not to repeat by saying that, traditionally, the length of the song and the size of the class are factors to be considered. The class sang 378t and 425 as examples. Emphasis was placed on keeping time during rests. When the first note is a rest, it is the leader’s responsibility to bring the class in on the upbeat. The class sang 421 and 159 to demonstrate.

The class sang 481, and was dismissed.

Lesson: Rudiments I / Advanced

9:00 a.m. Judy Hauff welcomed the class. She began by discussing the importance of accent in singing Sacred Harp music.

She said that most people learn by doing, so the class sang and practiced keeping time, with accent. She led 294, 79, and 388 as examples of 2/4 time, and noted that all of these songs are not sung at exactly the same tempo. She noted that tempo will be affected by poetry, especially when the words don’t exactly fit the music, as in the case of 79 and 388.

She led 277, an example of 4/4 time, at a slower tempo. She then led 454 and 373 as examples of 4/4 time, at a faster tempo.

Judy led 70b, a minor tune written in 4/4 time, and traditionally sung slowly. Other minor tunes sung were 345b and 274t, both in 2/4 time, and traditionally sung more on the peppy side.

The class sang 434, 129, 546, 436, and 172. Judy instructed the students to keep time at their seats, and pay particular attention to accent while singing. The class was dismissed.

Elective: More Rudiments

10:45 a.m. Samuel Sommers opened the class by leading 121, followed by prayer. Sam began by saying that there are two questions you should ask yourself when a song is called. First, what is the mode of time? Second, where are the rests? Be aware of what is contained in the song. The class should respect what is in the heart of the leader. Try to sing as if each song is your favorite song, at that time. The leader should use discretion and not take liberties beyond the tradition and capabilities of each class. The leader should have the class “want” to follow them. As an example of a song with a “birdseye”, the class sang 518. Sam taught that repeats fall into one of the following categories: mandatory, optional, unwritten or ignored. The Rudiments state that when accenting, poetry accent takes precedence over note accent. The closing song was 371.

Elective: Sacred Harp Composition 101 (t? b?)

10:45 a.m. Aldo Ceresa said that composing is a gift to our singing community. He gave some general tips on how composers can make our music more enjoyable to Sacred Harp singers as follows: use the Sacred Harp book and rudiments as your guide; learn from living composers; beware of relying on instruments or computers while writing; make sure tune is set in correct mode of time and consider accent; choose a text first and pay close attention to the poetry; make revisions... you will experience a bit of trial and error, but keep at it; make notice of common “melodic words” and “fragments of music” that occur again and again in Sacred Harp music.

Aldo suggested starting with a melody and get it right before you continue. All parts need to be melodic. Aldo refers to 503, written by Raymond Hamrick, as an example of a great melody. He also honored Mr. Hamrick on his birthday.

Aldo said that after writing a melody, the bass part should be written. The bass part is the foundation of a song, and it anchors the harmony and rhythm. Aldo led 348b, singing the bass part as an example. Once you have your melody and bass parts, write the treble part. The treble part often defines the chord, adding brilliance and definition to a song. Last, but certainly not least, write the alto part. Alto can add fullness and emphasis to a song. A great example of an alto friendly song is 472, written by Dan Brittain. The class participated in a round-robin part writing exercise called “Team Tunesmith” to end the session.

Elective: Wonderful Words of Life

10:45 a.m. Lela Crowder asked the class to put the name of their favorite song on cards. She collected the cards, and the class discussed why certain songs become our favorites. Lela related that we all love our songs. We like the way they sound or the way they look on the printed page, but it is the poetry that keeps us coming back to a favorite song.

She said that there are infinite messages in the poetry of Sacred Harp tunes. Some tunes uplift us, some tunes remind us of a loved one, some tunes help us deal with troubles, and some tunes drive our memories and evoke emotional responses.

Lela went over some common verses dealing with a range of emotions and concepts. For example, “the needs of a sinner” are written about in 317; “the love of God” is written about in 30t and 132; the saving power of Christ is written with the words, “Jesus can make a dying bed feel soft...” These words are wonderful words, words of life. The poetry is what makes the songs personal to us. The class sang 503, 475, and 472, and was dismissed.

Lesson: Makers of the Sacred Harp I

1:00 p.m. David Ivey introduced Warren Steel as the teacher for the class and as the author of his new book, “The Makers of the Sacred Harp”. Warren said that his book referred to Sacred Harp as a social activity that produces sound. Today he highlighted some innovations and retentions in Sacred Harp music.

Innovations of the Sacred Harp include sight reading from shaped notes, four singing syllables, singing schools, the hollow square, and fuging tunes. Warren said that in 1584 and 1596 the first known four-note books were published by an Irishman named William Bathe. In the 1600’s, John Playford, leading music and selling books at the Temple Church in London, introduced three part psalm books with fasola syllable letters under the notes. He also was the first to use the G clef for tenor voices, and to suggest that tenor and treble parts be doubled by men and women (or boys).

“The Divine Companion,” published in 1701, was a book of hymn and psalm tunes for county parishes and gallery bands, intended to replace the lined-out ornamented melodies. Fuging tunes appeared in the 1730’s in England and quickly became popular in the American colonies. Shaped notes were invented in Philadelphia before 1790 and first used in “The Easy Instructor” in 1801. Several shape-note systems, both four-note and seven-note, were devised by others from 1805 to 1880.

On the subject of the hollow square, Warren suggested that there might have been several ways the square came about. One thought is that it came from singers sitting around a square table or singing in parts gathered in the gallery for a fuging tune. The idea of the hollow square most likely began in singing schools with the teacher in the middle and the scholars on the outside.

B. F. White made a significant contribution to Sacred Harp music introducing revival choruses and repeated refrains. Major White also reorganized the Rudiments and reduced the moods of time from nine to seven.

Warren showed slides that were not included in his book and answered questions from the class to end the lesson.

Elective: The 100th Anniversary of the 1911 James Book

2:15 p.m. Aldo Ceresa and Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg began the class by leading 318. Aldo showed the class an original copy of the 1911 James Revision book, and explained the significance of the book in Sacred Harp music.

Aldo shared information about Joe James, saying that he placed historical footnotes in the book which remained until the 1991 edition was published. James was a prolific list maker, but was rather inaccurate. In 1904, James produced a history of Sacred Harp and a pamphlet. As a result, he became involved in a lawsuit in 1920 for copyright infringement. James installed alto in his whole branch of work, adding six songs from the Social Harp with added alto parts in his revision. The class was given a handout and sang “Singing School”, followed by Michael Walker leading 114.

Jesse shared information about the personal history of Joe James’s life. He was born in 1849, and died in 1931. Jesse brought attention to some important events of Joseph L. James’s life in a timeline that he prepared. James was active in politics and business. He was exposed to Sacred Harp as a child and became very active in Sacred Harp circles. He was elected as President of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jesse led “The Great Roll Call” with Aldo pointing out that it is a gospel tune set in the early twentieth century before rag time music.

Leaders: Warren Steel 198; Robert Kelley 325; Dan Brittain 153; Helen Brown 430; David Ivey 302; Ginny Ely 436; Paula Picton 269. Aldo and Jesse led 208, and the class was dismissed.

Lesson: How to Beat the 7 Modes of Time-Basics

3:45 p.m. Robert Kelley began the class by stating that Rhythmics treats the arrangements of notes and rests in time (Rudiments pages 14-17). The three aspects of musical science are called melodics, rhythmics, and dynamics.

For learning accent, Robert refers the class to Champlain Harmony, Southern Harmony, and Tom Malone’s classes on accent.

The seven modes of time used in the Sacred Harp were reviewed. There are 3 modes of common time (2/2, 4/4, and 2/4). There are 2 modes of triple time (3/2 and 3/4). There are 2 modes of compound time (6/4 and 6/8). When the bottom number of the time signature is higher, the rhythm gets faster. Robert demonstrated the primary accent is when the hand starts to fall, the secondary accent is when the hand rises, always moving the arm smoothly up and down. This is a little more difficult in compound time. Triple time is the most difficult, with two beats down and one beat up. Robert used a pendulum to demonstrate speeds and modes of time.

Robert led the class in singing some examples of tunes in different modes of time. The tune on page 49t (2/2) is very slow. He pointed out the tricky rests in 325 (6/4). The song on page 40 is written in 4/4 time, and should be sung at a moderate tempo. The song on page 282, written in 2/4 time, is sung at a faster tempo. The song on page 127 was used as an example of 6/4 time; pages 64 and 119 were examples of 6/8 time. Examples of songs written in triple time were 163b (3/2) and 501 (3/4). Robert stated that the most common mode of time in the Sacred Harp is 4/4 time.

Robert suggested that everyone in the class find a major and a minor song in all modes of time to practice.

Lesson: Leading and Bringing in Parts-Intermediate

3:45 p.m. Judy Caudle introduced herself as a fourth generation singer and a teacher of Sacred Harp. The class started by singing 155.

When bringing in parts, Judy said to be aware of your feet so that you will not stumble or trip while in the square. As a child, Judy shared, that she was so nervous she never moved in the square, but with time, practice, and experience, she is very comfortable moving in the square and finds it to be a better experience. Judy went on to say that bringing in parts is a means of communicating what you want to happen with the song that you are leading.

She explained that the bass part is most often the lead-in part and it is preferable not to wait until the last second to turn to them. The lead-in part needs to know ahead of time if the leader is planning to repeat. Judy demonstrates by leading 485.

Judy suggested that beginners practice with recordings, and even practice in front of a mirror while holding your book. Judy led 193 as an example of bringing in repeats.

The class practiced leading while bringing in parts. Leaders: Rebecca Over 208; Michael Walker 181 (to practice a song with a short entrance); Lea Kouba and Judy 142; Sonny Erwin 196; Eddie Mash 428; Robert Stoddard 454; Sam Sommers 548; Geraldine Sharpton and Judy 318; Roberta Strauss and Judy 300.

Judy shared some thoughts about the use of our hand, saying, “while we use a flat, stiff hand to stop the class from singing, leading with an open, slightly bent hand is an inviting gesture to the class that says come sing with me.” She continued by stating that we are leading, not conducting. The word “leader” is a noun meaning one who leads. Judy’s final words to the class were to always lead with discretion, grace, and poise.

Lesson: Rudiments—Accent

3:45 p.m. Tom Malone stated that accent is an unequal emphasis on one part of a musical strain or part, or varying degrees of power on one part more than the other. Accent is different in each mode of time.

Tom referred to the seven modes of time as described on page 15 of the Rudiments. The class looked at 49t where Tom explained the primary accent is on the first beat when the hand moves down, and the secondary accent is on the second beat when the hand comes up. In 2/2 time, the voice should give half the volume to the secondary accent as it does to the primary accent. There is musical accent, which is always on the first down beat, and poetry accent. When poetry accent and musical accent do not line up, the poetry accent always wins.

Tom used a money analogy for explaining accent in the song on page 82t (4/4 time). He said that if the primary accent (beat one) is worth $1.00 and the secondary accent (beat 4) is worth $.50, then the 2 remaining beats are chump change. He led 82t, and the class practiced accenting as he instructed.

An example of no secondary accent is found in 109 written in 2/4 time. The first beat gets the primary accent, and there is no secondary accent, except when the measure has 4 eighth notes. Compound time is shown in 374, where there are joined flags. Tom explained that joined flags are a type of slur when the voice is singing more than one note but using only one syllable. Lois Badey led 119.

Tom suggested practicing on your own for fifteen minutes a day. The class sung 384 and 224, and then was dismissed.

Elective: Discussion on Sacred Harp Etiquette

5:00 p.m. Teacher—Buell Cobb. This class provided practical suggestions in etiquette for leading, arranging, and conventions. Buell began by stating that our tradition, while honoring the forms of the past, does allow for and inevitably opens up to some change. In his many years of attending Sacred Harp singings and conventions, he said, he had seen many changes.

Buell shared his own bias regarding etiquette in Sacred Harp. He said we should leave our public differences at the door. We should focus on the things that unite us, not the things that would cause divisions in our community. He quoted from the bylaws of old conventions that made this point. As another example, he mentioned that the memorial lesson should be reserved for remembering Sacred Harp singers or their family and friends. Requests to include well-known figures, or populations from the larger world, or the loss of things non-human risks divisiveness.

Concerning leading, Buell said the front bench needs to be experienced singers, who can better understand what the leader wants. He discussed pointers for how to work with a leader who is not confident or sufficiently communicative—or how to lean on the front bench if you are such a leader.

He said the class “wants” you to be successful in leading your song and, if you are not confident in giving signals of direction on the fly, suggested that you communicate your intent before leading your song.

He stated that leaders should use practical consideration and courtesy, and not displace other leaders by leading too many verses of a song or taking too many repeats, etc. He advised beginning leaders not to try for flamboyance while leading, but to observe excellent experienced leaders, begin at the “center” of what those leaders do and then, over time, work your way out to your own individual leading style.

When choosing a song, Buell said, be mindful of the time of day. For example, maybe singing an anthem is not the best fit for the opening few songs of the day—or for the closing ones, when the class is clearly tired and ready for adjournment.

If you are ever part of the arranging committee, Buell suggested, the following guidelines: If you are having a large convention, you may want to “sacrifice” some of your local singers first, saving the high points of the day (the hour before and after lunch) for notable leaders, especially those who have traveled a long way. Instead of just calling all the members of a family or all the singers on a row, one after the other, use variety in selecting leaders. He said that smart arranging makes for a consistent flow to your day of singing. Buell thanked the class for their attention, and closed the session.

Elective: The Devil’s in the Details

5:00 p.m. Robert Kelley introduced himself and told the class that this class addressed those spots in songs that are tricky for various reasons. He said that songs that get us thrown off track often include dotted rhythms, time changes, discords, and accent. Rob referred to the Rudiments as the class looked at various tunes with tricky spots.

He began by saying that songs with dotted rhythms cannot be done properly if led too fast. Robert had the class look at 298 and 327 as examples.

He continued by saying that time changes during a song can be challenging. Time changes are reflected in the song on page 227. Rob noted that the 2/4 time is not necessarily twice as fast as the 4/4 time, but that the accent is different.

Robert noted that melodics vary in songs like 47b, where the bass line has a higher note than the tenor. According to the Rudiments, in this case, the tenor should hold back and let the bass line dominate. The class reviewed the alto line in 146, and the tenor line in 436.

For discords between parts, the class reviewed 58. The alto and treble lines make a discord. In 277, the alto and the bass discord. The treble entrance in 99 and 107 were reviewed.

Rob pointed out that text accent and music accent sometimes disagree. The Rudiments tell us that the poetry or text accent comes first when in conflict. The following songs were reviewed for certain tricky spots: 282, 512, 170, and 232. In 311, “Silver Street”, the staccato affects the duration of a note, and the accent affects the dynamics. In 35, “Saints Bound for Heaven”, the way the words are printed in the book affect the way they are sung, for example, “Si-na-is”. The word “blessing”, used as singular (not plural) changes the meaning of a song, as in “A Thankful Heart”.

Additional songs with tricky spots included 495, 288, 228, and 522. Robert expressed that Rudiments are important, especially for new singers. It is best to sing songs as they are written, in keeping with the oral tradition of Sacred Harp.

Class Singing

7:30 p.m. led by Advent Lodge. The Monday evening singing began with Chairman Sam Sommers leading 56t, followed by prayer offered by Rick Foreman.

Leaders: Aine Cheallaigh 503; Ted Brown 303; Nathan Rees 83b; Lea Kouba 547; Wade Kotter 480; Rosalind Oldham 479; Andrew Mashchak 39t; Sonny Erwin and Donna McKay 204; Al McCready 155; Helen Brown 436; Dan Comstock 344; Ginnie Ely 228; Philippa Stoddard 259 (?); Geraldine Sharpton 318; Margaret Gillanders 77t; Judy Caudle 329; Michael Walker 377; Anne Drexler 87; Charlie Soape 402; Judy Mincey 86; Eddie Mash 301; Judy Whiting 150; Richard Schmeidler 184; Linda Sides 328; Robert Stoddard 227; Rebecca Over 339; Jonathon Smith 304; Charlotte Ehrman 549; Dan Brittain 375; Idy Kiser 32t; Stuart Ivey 272; Judy Hauff 299.

After announcements, Sam Sommers and Karen Ivey led 92. Ted Brown offered the closing prayer, followed by a devotional conducted by Fred Hoerr. The class was dismissed.

Tuesday, June 14


7:00 a.m. Campers could choose to hike, swim, or sing from the Lloyd’s Hymnal. Breakfast followed at 8:00 a.m.

Lesson: Rudiments II / Basics

9:00 a.m. Teachers—David Ivey and Stuart Ivey began the class by asking for questions and observations, with discussion following.

David and Stuart reviewed the staff and scales on pages 13-14 of the Rudiments. The class practiced singing major and minor scales.

Stuart continued instruction by reviewing Rhythmics, page 14 Rudiments. He said that time is measured in beats, and beats are grouped into larger units of time called measures, which are separated in notation by measure bars. Also, he made note of broad bars and phrase bars used within a tune to mark poetry lines, and the use of double bars to note the end of a song.

Stuart moved on to page 15 of the Rudiments, and discussed the length of notes. The class practiced singing examples of slurs (page 49b), ties (page 48t), joined flags (page 196), triplets (pages 188 and 31t), pauses/holds (page 34t), choice notes (page 348b), and dynamics, written and unwritten (pages 277, 143, and 417). The topic of grace notes was also addressed using the song on page 143.

Stuart said that the basis of all Sacred Harp music is the scales. He encouraged the class to learn the musical building blocks of the language. The class practiced singing the scales again.

Stuart led 440 and 441, and then discussed the similarities of the two songs. When asked why Sacred Harp singers sing so loud, he stated that singing too loud is not good, but singing in your natural voice is appropriate and joyful! The class was dismissed.

Lesson: Rudiments II / Intermediate

9:00 a.m. Teacher—Dan Brittain led 48t to bring the class to order. Rick Foreman offered prayer.

The first topic was about key changes. An example was shown using 240 written in the key of D minor. Dan explained in this song the key changes to the parallel major (the “la” becomes a “fa”). Key changes are also used in a tune for effect and to highlight the word painting, such as the word “fly”.

The class sang 355. Dan told the class that, traditionally, the alto doubled the bass part, giving a rather particular sound to the tune.

An exercise from the James Book was given (Call John) to emphasize counting. The unusual part singing included challenging melodic skips and rests. Dan challenged the class to practice at home.

Local traditions were discussed and it was recommended that local traditions be respected. The class sang 408.

Dan told the class that when there is a rest at the beginning of a song, beat the rest while the chord is being sounded. He pointed out the songs on pages 267 and 59 as examples, and the class practiced beating the rest at the beginning. He then turned to page 387, and the class practiced beating time when there are time changes.

The next topic was about ornamentation in a song. Dan calls them little scoops, slides, and anticipations in a song that make it sound better. The class sang 68b without and with ornamentation to show the difference. A question and answer time followed to complete the lesson.

Lesson: Rudiments II / Advanced

9:00 a.m. Judy Hauff presented the class with a hand-out listing twenty-nine songs that include “raise-able sixths”. The majority of raised sixths are in the treble and tenor lines. Judy discussed the pros and cons of raised sixths being printed in the song book. The class sang the following songs with a raised sixth: 300, 83 (t? b?), 163t, 201, 215, 278b, 442, 224, and 268.

Elective: More Rudiments

10:45 a.m. Sam Sommers introduced himself and led 207, followed by prayer. Sam related that “desire” is the only requirement for being a Sacred Harp singer. He advised practicing the major scales to start.

The scales are found in the Rudiments section, pages 18 and 19. A major scale starts with “fa” and a minor scale starts with “la”. A minor song is not always sad, naming “Alabama” as an example. The class practiced singing the scales.

The common, compound, and triple modes of time were reviewed. Sam went over 301 for reference. He suggested that when you turn to a song, scan the piece for the mode of time, repeats, holds, and any other notations. Find a song to work on, practice accent, and eliminate using vibrato while singing.

The tonic is the root or key note of a song. The last note in the bass line will tell you what key the song is in. The class analyzed 358, “Murillo’s Lesson”, for mode of time, repeats, and accent. This song is very popular in singing schools, and is good practice. Sam shared a visual tip; “The more ink on the page, the faster it moves”. A hand-out was provided for practicing scales. Sam said learning them will serve a singer well. In addition to reading the Rudiments in the Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition, Sam also recommended reading the Rudiments found in other Sacred Harp books.

A final thought: If a song reminds you of someone or brings up a great memory, this is the miracle!

Elective: Harmony and Style in The Sacred Harp

10:45 a.m. Dan Brittain says he has been asked to address the things that make Sacred Harp harmony and style unique. He shares his personal opinions, and says they are not to be taken as the only word on the subject.

Harmony and style in four shape note music do not necessarily follow traditional eighteenth century rules as many of us learned in school. We do not necessarily perform, we sing, and write this music for the enjoyment of it. For some of us, it is an expression of faith, for others, it allows the emotions to soar, and for some of us, both. The lack of an audience frees us from some constraints, such as volume. We do not have an appointed director that determines the way everyone does things.

On specific harmonic or style trends, each part has its own melody. Parallel harmony is not forbidden. Strong accent and breathing are not necessarily where one would expect. Regional variations in the tradition exist. As for personal preferences, the raised sixth is always used in minor. Dan stated his personal preference that written accidentals, which are sharps and flats, except those added by the composer to indicate the raised sixth, are to be ignored.

Dan shared some general rules he uses for the way he writes. His writing needs to have some precedent in the book itself or earlier editions. Interesting parts are vital and he always starts with text. Dan tells that he started singing in 1967 with his first writing efforts in 1971. His first things were fairly dismal and not very well done. This is when he decided he needed to find those things in the music which spoke to him, not for the purpose of copying, but figuring out more of the “how.” The writers that have had the greatest influence on the way Dan does things are Breedlove for his strong sense of melody and parts that fit together well; Dumas, for his use of rhythmic contrasts like in 123b and 337; E. J. King for his treble writing; H. S. Reese for his sense of rhythm as in 278b, contrapuntal writing in 419, and treble line in 428; J. P. Reese for his melodies, harmonies, and shifting parallels in 375, 383, and 417.

Elective: Singing Favorites with Elder J.L. Hopper

10:45 a.m. Elder J. L. Hopper told the class he was raised in a singing family and never went a day without hearing singing. He has made a CD recording of twenty songs of himself singing all four parts, and some include his playing the autoharp. He has also recorded a teaching CD that would be useful to anyone who sings Sacred Harp.

After opening remarks, he led 374. Leaders: Michael Walker 306; Rebecca Over 532; Judy Mincey 180; Judy Hauff 157.

Elder Hopper expressed that when you are in the square, you are the leader. He asked the leaders to pitch their own songs, and to pitch them where it is comfortable to sing. This is called singing by relative pitch, not necessarily the key a song is written in. Leaders: Leon Pulsinelle 448b; Barbara Swetman 448t.

Elder Hopper suggested learning the modes of time, and referred to pages 15 and 16 of the Rudiments. The time signature is a clue to the pace of the song the writer intended. Leaders: Elder Hopper 301(by request); Ginnie Ely 349; Tom Malone 507. After closing remarks, the class was dismissed.

Lesson: The Memorial Lesson

1:00 p.m. Karen Rollins welcomed the class. She then gave a definition of the memorial lesson as a period set aside at a singing for the common practice of remembering and honoring the deceased and the sick and shut-ins. She further stated that it is important to honor those who have gone before us. The memorial lesson helps foster a sense of community. It causes us to confront our mortality. It preserves a Sacred Harp tradition. It helps us to grieve, and find comfort.

Karen talked briefly about the history of memorial lessons, stating that not all singing communities conduct memorial lessons during a local singing. Others have held memorial lessons for many years, and still others are new to the tradition.

Karen instructed the class on the implementation of a memorial lesson. She said that one should compile the lists, choose leaders and songs, and choose speakers and topics. Topics could include life and death, grief, memory, history, family, tradition, traveling, and others.

She opened the floor for questions and discussion. Afterwards, the class held a memorial lesson.

Judy Mincey and Cheryl Foreman conducted the memorial lesson. Cheryl Foreman read the list of names of the sick and shut-ins and led 176t in their honor. Judy Mincey read the list of names of the deceased. She read text from the Episcopal prayer book, and led 549 in memory of the deceased. Samuel Sommers offered a prayer to close the memorial lesson. The class was dismissed.

Elective: Advanced Rudiments with Historical Content

2:15 p.m. Dr. Warren Steel introduced himself and led 28t. He continued leading by lining out 47t and 39t. Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg led 57.

A hand-out of B.F. White’s Rudiments was provided and the class practiced singing exercises in 2/4 time. Warren had the class sing the song “Lisbon” by Daniel Read from the original fuging tune version that is not in the 1991 edition.

Modes of time can be grouped by speed. The slow modes of time are 2/2 and 3/2. The moderate modes of time are 4/4, 3/4, and 6/4. The fast modes of time are 2/4 and 6/8. The class sang 234, 443 (?), and 89. Warren stated there is evidence that 89 was originally a folk tune, and pointed out the interesting note of F ending the song but written in B flat. This song has also been collected as a tune for “Barbra Allen”.

In “Pleyel’s Hymn”, page 143, the function of the bass part is not meant to carry the tune, but to convey the harmony. In “Fillmore”, page 434, Warren pointed out how striking it is that no chords are in C; even though it was typical of fuging tunes of the late nineteenth century. In “Wootten”, page 548, it is noted that a gospel direction was shown. The class sang 189 led by Ginnie Ely, and then was dismissed.

Lesson: Leading Workshop-Basics

3:45 p.m. Teacher—Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg. This class was joined by the Leading Workshop/Intermediate class with teacher Judy Caudle.

Jesse’s opening statement was that there are two kinds of leaders, the leader who takes complete command, and the leader who relies on the front bench. He encouraged the class to strive to be the leader who takes command.

Jesse offered several ways to develop ourselves into being that kind of leader. He said to pick out a song, and learn it. He suggested that a leader be able to sing the tenor part from memory. A leader should think about which verses to sing before coming to the square.

He further suggested that the class learn the modes of time, and the tempo of various songs. One should know how to start a song, as in whether it begins with a note or a rest. Leaders should try to avoid giving strange motions. The only motions needed are down and up, except in triple time which is a down, down, and up motion.

Judy Caudle told the class to practice setting the tempo with your hand, and sing to the tempo you set. A leader can maintain a more consistent tempo in this manner than if one follows the voice with the hand. Relax while leading and practice.

The leading practice began with Rebecca Over leading 567. Other leaders: Frank Debolt 91; Dan McCarter 566; Rosalind Oldham 284; Leslie Hunter 156; Aubrey Hemminger 142; Doug Fower 178; Warren Steel and Linda Sides 220; Charlie Soape 44; Rick Forman 387; Chris Brown 298. The class was dismissed.

Lesson: Leading Boot Camp / Advanced

3:45 p.m. Cassie Allen greeted the class and said that this class is to help present oneself gracefully in the square, and to work on presenting the time-keeping arm visible to as much of the class as possible.

Cassie recommended choosing your song, knowing your tempo, and selecting the verses you want before you get up to lead. She said to know how your song starts and how it ends. It is recommended, at large conventions, to minimize the number of verses. Time is of the essence when many leaders are present.

As the class sang, Cassie offered help and suggestions to each leader. Cassie began leading practice by leading 155. Leaders: Ginnie Ely 446; Michael Walker 250; Eddie Mash 274b; Mary Skidmore 203; Charlotte Ehrman 196; Judy Hauff 368; Rebecca Over 389; Anne Drexler 47t; Terry Barber 536; Stephen Rogers 276; Margaret Gillanders 278t; Judy Mincey 540; Judy Whiting 273; Gillian Inksetter 200; Daniel Lee 63; Paula Picton 179.

Lesson: Rudiments—Songs in Major and Minor

3:45 p.m. Teacher—Tom Malone. A handout provided a list of twenty songs in major and minor for the class to take home and practice. Annalise Perone led 47b. Tom suggested leading tips, such as keeping your hand up, giving an indication when you are finished, making eye contact with the front row to indicate a repeat, and standing close to the tenor.

Tom said, “If you want to become a better leader, I recommend that you practice.” You can do this all alone, just sing tenor and beat your time, first the notes and then the words. If you get in this habit, you will improve in a couple of ways. First, your fluency with the syllables will become more euphonious, which will lead to better accent and less vocal fatigue. Next, you will realize that many songs are related to one another melodically, and that practicing each one will help you lead the next one.

Tom encouraged students to draw on confidence and memory when leading. It is important to lead effectively. You should know the tenor line extremely well, and sing it when leading.

Leaders: Wade Kotter 312b; Ellen Lueck 108t; Fred Hoerr 38b; Philippa Stoddard 128; Lea Kouba 101b; Andrew Mashchak 38t; Lois Badey 61; Sam Sommers 170; Leon Pulsinelle 31t; Eliza Marcus 82t.

Tom said that eventually you might be able to sing these songs (notes and words) in tune, time, and accent without looking at the book. You may notice that Sacred Harp “tunes” differently than other choral music. Practicing these songs, on tenor, will help your voice memorize the various distances between the pitches. Try singing them in the car, or in the yard ....sing on!

Tom’s final thought for the class was “passion for Sacred Harp goes beyond the square and into your lifetime.”

Elective: Rudiments Review-Questions and Answers

5:00 p.m. Teachers—David Ivey and Stuart Ivey. David said that to become more familiar with Sacred Harp tunes, listen to recordings. There are many CD’s, videos, and other digital recordings available.

He instructed the class to practice the major and minor scales.

Stuart related some music theory by saying the sixth note of a major scale begins a minor key. The third note of a minor scale begins a major key.

A point on leading was given by Stuart. He said that if a song has a repeat and you are moving your arm, you are indicating that you want to repeat.

The songs reviewed were 32t, 503, 445, 29t, and 277.

Elective: Sacred Harp Heritage “My Sacred Harp Journey”

5:00 p.m. Dan Brittain was in college when he started hearing about Sacred Harp music. He listened to records and got a 1966 songbook. He received a music position while in the Army and was assigned to the State of Georgia.

Dan had the class sing some songs, and told of each person he related the song to since beginning his Sacred Harp Journey. “Few Happy Matches”, the song on page 96, is one Dan remembered Hugh McGraw leading. Other leaders and songs he remembered are as follows: Lloyd Redding 410b; E. G. Akin 411; Buford McGraw and Earlis McGraw 181; Charlene Wallace 327; Bill Avery 337; Ruth Denson Edwards 543; Bob Denson 395; Jim Ayers, a strong bass singer, 113; Lillie Ayers 424; Carl Hughes 137; Millard McWhorter 314, “The Seven Joys of Mary”, “A Christmas Carol” (Haley), and 513. The class sang the words only to 245 and 353, and then was dismissed.

Elective: Choosing the Right Song for the Right Time

5:00 p.m. Robert Kelley began the class by leading 435, a song that is rarely sung, giving the example not to begin a singing with a song the class may not know, or a song that is too difficult. During the first hour of a local singing, it is best to start with the local singers, and lead the visitors once the class is warmed up. If you are a visiting singer, you should place importance on regional preferences. It is okay to ask what songs go well in a particular area.

The class sang 290 as a good song to use just before lunch. Robert recommends when leading a hard song, (like 327), the class needs to be warmed up. The last hour of a singing will have a class drooping, so find a peppy, not too difficult song to sing that will keep the energy up.

Robert related that in Mississippi, singing “Easter Anthem” at the end of a singing is a tradition. Towards the end of a singing, it is good to choose shorter songs that will not exhaust the class. The arranging committee needs to know the leaders. For example, do not call three leaders in a row who will call difficult or challenging songs.

The class sang 296 as an example of a song to lead for the sick and shut-ins. It is appropriate to sing songs for friends who are unable to attend because of illness or other circumstances.

There are many great parting songs and some of them are rarely sung. The class sang 45b as an example. Traditional closing songs can become tedious, so try to keep them fresh. The class sang 382, a rather odd choice, with but appropriate words. The class was dismissed.

Class Singing

7:30 p.m. led by Mullen Lodge. Judy Mincey, Chairman, led 376 to bring the class to order. Leaders: Aldo Ceresa 419; Dan McCarter 566: Eliza Marcus 81b; Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg 275b; Leslie Hunter and Elizabeth Stoddard 157; Tom Malone 386; Robert Kelley 161; Gillian Inksetter 200; Fred Hoerr 178: Ann Mashchak 96; Barbara Swetman 125; Daniel Lee 82t; Chris Brown 298; Mary Skidmore 198; Leon Pulsinelle 48t; Roberta Strauss 542; Eugene Forbes 218; Elizabeth Stoddard 191; Wendy Futral 35; Stephen Rogers 229; Joanne Fuller 439; Terry Barber 536; Frank Debolt 515; Nicoletta Rogers 538; Angela Myers 168; Rick Foreman 448t; Melanie Hauff 411; Karen Ivey 567.

Judy Mincey led 323t as the closing song. Sam Sommers offered prayer. The evening devotional was conducted by Leslie Hunter. The closing prayer was offered by Aubrey Hemminger. Campers enjoyed snacks and fellowship before lights out.

Wednesday, June 15


7:00 a.m. Campers could choose to hike, swim, or sing from the Lloyd’s Hymnal. Breakfast followed at 8:00 a.m.

Lesson: Rudiments III / Basics

9:00 a.m. Teachers—David Ivey and Stuart Ivey. Stuart said that a good place for beginners to start singing Sacred Harp is in the tenor section. The tenor is the melody line of the song. It is helpful to sing other parts, and by doing so, you may find another part better fits your voice. A lot of singers cross over to others parts to learn to sing better.

The class sang 31t, and Stuart noted the slurs, triplets, and the open fifth. Stuart led the class in singing a skipping exercise of the major and minor scales. The class sang 351 written in C major.

Stuart directed the class to page 19 of the Rudiments, and discussed accidentals. He used the song on page 504 as an example. The class sang 272 and 448t (minor tunes), and discussed the natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) versus the traditional minor scale (Dorian mode). Stuart encouraged students to read the Rudiments, pages 18 and 19.

Stuart reviewed the modes of time. Accent and displacement of accent were discussed. The class practiced accent on 512, 436, and 131b. Stuart said that when a song has proper accent, it is not boring or dull. He noted that older recordings would show more accent than usually heard at singings and conventions. Other songs practiced were 481, 40, 41, 43, 316, and 44.

The class sang some songs with word painting. Stuart noted the words in the songs on page 497 (“high”) and on page 344 (“the seas grew calm”). He noted that the poetry overrides the music and it is not a good place to roar! The class was dismissed.

Lesson: Rudiments III / Intermediate

9:00 a.m. Dan Brittain led 77t to bring the class to order. Rick Foreman offered prayer.

Dan began the class by talking about things done in a song that are not written in the book. In 310, the word “E-lo-i” toward the end is sung slower. In 54, there is a time change at the end, but the beginning part is often sung wrong. Dotted notes are often missed in a song, like the ones in 188.

To practice counting, Dan believes “Call John” is one of the best. The Sacred Harp book has songs equivalent to pattern songs. An example of a pattern song is 116, also known as “the Jerusalem phonebook”. It’s a fun song to sing. Other pattern songs are 170 and 333; however, you might not want to call these back to back at a singing. Written in 2/4 time, the song on page 424 has a secondary beat only when there are four eighth notes in a measure.

Rosalind Oldham pitched and led 34t. Dan said that he pitches starting with the bass note. If you need to change the pitch, sound the note you just sang, and slide up or down to a new pitch. A way to train your ear to pitch, is when someone else is pitching, try to anticipate what they are going to do. Look at the lowest bass note and the highest treble note.

Rebecca Over pitched and led 381. Dan suggested that if the song starts with an open fifth, sound the third so that people can get the key in their ear. To adjust the pitch, wait until after the notes are sung to make a change.

Leaders: Anne Drexler 99; Daniel Lee 63; Rick Foreman 38b; Chris Brown 28b; Roberta Strauss 565b; Ellen Lueck 47t; Wade Kotter 103; Philippa Stoddard 32t. Wendy Futral 100; Annalise Perone 121.

Dan said that the leader can hear if people are straining or not singing at all. Stop and change the pitch; however, if a song is reachable, people will do their best to sing it. Dan led 521, and closed the lesson.

Lesson: Rudiments III / Advanced

9:00 a.m. Judy Hauff discussed keying during this class. She said that no two people will do it the same. Some people hear it in their heads, while others remember the pitches. She suggested making notes and references in your book to assist you. Most songs will fit within a few tones of each other.

The class was provided a handout on how to form triads in major and minor. She said that when you are keying, sound each tone slowly, so each part can hear their note. Eliza Marcus practiced pitching 171. Judy suggested finding songs with perfect triads, and practice.

Judy revealed some tricks in practicing minor triads. Steve Rogers practiced pitching 38b. Judy said everyone should respect the person pitching, and wait until they are sure. When the person giving the pitch is struggling, others may step in and help, if asked.

Final points Judy made were find the key, find the mode of time, scan the note ranges of each tune, make adjustments up or down, listen to the class, and look for signs of discomfort. Change the pitch after the notes, if needed. Only the leader or the key person has the privilege to change the key. Steve Rogers led 541, and the class was dismissed.

Elective: More Rudiments

10:45 a.m. Teacher—Sam Sommers began the class by leading 133, followed by prayer. Sam welcomed the class by saying, “There are no requirements to sing Sacred Harp except the desire to sing”.

The 1991 edition, the Rudiments, and traditions are based on the older, earlier books. The class reviewed rhythmics, focused on making a series of pleasing noise with right timing. Reviewed also were melodics, pitches, and tones.

The two keys are major and minor. Major begins with “fa” and minor begins with “la”, known as the tonic. The different modes of time and page 19 of the Rudiments were discussed.

When learning to sing Sacred Harp, a good place to start is in tenor. It is the melody of the song. Sam suggested that it is best to sing tenor when leading.

Sam’s Curriculum

  • Watch the leader.
  • The first repeat is mandatory; the repeat at the end of the song is optional.
  • FINE is “the end”. D. C. is “to the top”. (da capa goes on da head).
  • Your hand is up when the song starts and ends. Faster leading calls for smaller movements.
  • Always sing the lower note in choice notes (unless, you have a “lovely”, “perfect” reason).
  • A wonder is “the sign”. The only sign in the book is in 438.
  • “Waltz” to triple time; “jig” to 6/8. Sing smoothly like a rocking chair, but with accent.
  • Keep learning.
  • What to wear? Respect tradition where you go. Wearing a tie to an all day singing is optional. There are no fashion police.
  • Do not be rude if someone calls a song that has already been done. Politely tell them that that song has already been led.
  • For two-song lessons, relate the songs in some way; for example, both major or both minor. Don’t use two “willy-nilly” songs.
  • Choose fast after lunch.
  • Leave them wanting more, not, “Oh, it’s Sam”!

The class sang 143, and was dismissed.

Elective: Team Tunesmith

10:45 a.m. Teachers—Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg and Aldo Ceresa. This exciting class included campers who have the desire to write and compose Sacred Harp music. Part I of Team Tunesmith began on Monday during Sacred Harp Composition 101 (t? b?). The class was provided a tune handout written with an existing melody (tenor). The class paired off into groups to write a bass line, a treble line, and an alto line.

Today’s class revealed the results of the writing assignments by singing the tune. The tune was called “Camp Fasola”. The participants in this composition were Jesse Karlsberg, Ellen Lueck, Fred Hoerr, Michael Walker, Linda Sides, George Berg, Helen Brown, Dan Brittain, Andrew Mashchak, Philippa Stoddard, Robert Stoddard, Annalise Perone, and Stephanie Turney. The class reviewed each composition, making suggestions on how to improve the harmonies written by each team. Part II of Team Tunesmith included recently written compositions. They are “Carrollton” by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg, “Cunningham” by Robert Stoddard, “God Is Love” by Linda Sides, “Japan” by Robert Kelley, “New Creation” by Tom Malone, “Hebden Bridge” by Wade Kotter, “Candler Park”, “Cowling”, and “Ruth” by Dan Brittain.

Elective: Sacred Harp Heritage “A Sacred Harp Perspective from the 60’s and 70 (t? b?)’s”

10:45 a.m. Buell Cobb told the class that he has been involved in Sacred Harp for more than 45 years. His grandfather taught “new book” singing school and Buell sang with him some in his teens. He was briefly exposed to Sacred Harp in high school, but it did not really stick until he was in college.

Buell referred to his early great enthusiasm for Sacred Harp and recalled Keith Willard’s “The Steps of Infection for Northern Singers”, one of the points of which is trying to tell all of your friends and family about Sacred Harp and “discovering sad truth: most people idiots.”

He related his experience of getting to know Ruth Denson Edwards and of how she took him under her wing. He mentioned that his hometown singing, the Cullman County Convention (the last surviving courthouse singing), was hugely attended, as records from the 1930’s show (a newspaper estimate of 5,000). When he began attending in the mid-1960’s, he was one of the few young people there. He said that at that time many were concerned that Sacred Harp might not last into the twenty-first century.

He related the story of the first National Sacred Harp Convention, held in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1980. There were too many accomplished leaders, so for the first time, leaders were restricted to one song (the much older practice was for only a few leaders to lead for about fifteen minutes to thirty minutes, and after those times, the standard lesson was always two songs).

Buell told the class that he enjoyed singing with Marcus Cagle, who wrote songs as early as 1908 and had sung with people who sang with B. F. White. He remembered the legendary Jim Ayers, whose voice was a bass class all by itself. Sadly, Ayers suffered a hearing problem later in his life that ruined his ability to sing.

He talked of, and gave some demonstrations of, individual leading styles he had been impressed by over the years. In Buell’s opinion, Hugh McGraw was the most dynamic leader, and the best overall, with the sometimes sweeping movements of his style; “he was absolutely fearless.” He gave an entertaining rendition of how Elmer Kitchens used to bring in the parts for the fuging entrance on 181, “Exit.” Edd Snell of the Wiregrass singers was the most active, stepping off and striding across the square when leading, for example, 460. He recalled Tom Harper, of famously gravelly voice, seeming to slap the air as he led. He recalled that the women leaders of that era had beautifully graceful leading styles, and remembered in particular Maud Quinn, Kathleen Trawick, Marie Aldridge, Kathleen Robbins, Velma Richardson, Willodean Butler, Shelbie Sheppard and the “Smith sisters” from Texas, Myrl Jones and Myra Palmer (Amanda Denson from a later time was another good example). Buell stated that bringing in (and otherwise acknowledging) the parts, if not a necessity in leading, is productive and class-pleasing in demonstrating one’s thorough and complete engagement with the music.

Buell told of his experience of singing with the “Wiregrass singers,” African American singers in Dothan, Ozark, and surrounding areas in southeast Alabama beginning in the late 60’s. Dewey Williams, the unquestioned leader of that group, was in his estimation the most charismatic leader he ever saw. The black singers sang with a slower and bouncy style, with vibrato and led often by “stepping off” the beat. The Festival of American Folklife at the Smithsonian in July of 1970 brought a group of white singers from Georgia and Alabama led by Hugh McGraw to perform, alternately, with the Wiregrass singers led by Dewey Williams. The mixture of those groups was a heartening blend of singing styles and ultimately of lifelong friendships.

He told the story of two quartets of Sacred Harp singers, again led by Hugh McGraw and Dewey Williams, who performed at the 1971 “Man and His World” Expo in Montreal, alternating with Roy Acuff and his band. Again in 1976 at the Festival of American Folklife, Buell had the opportunity to introduce Sacred Harp to the English performing group, the Watersons, ultimately resulting in the inclusion of a number of Sacred Harp tunes in one of their recordings.

Buell also told of a group of African American singers in Central Alabama, who had been singing in isolation for years, that he discovered in the late 1990’s. Though they kept many of the forms and rituals of their more than 100-year-old tradition, they no longer kept time when they sang, had little part singing, and used only a limited number of songs.

Buell remembered the various recordings by the Sacred Harp Publishing Company. A group of about 60 singers was selected each time for these studio recordings. In that very confined situation, there were very moderate tempos and a lot of nervous clearing of throats. The Bicentennial Album in 1976 represented the first time a general invitation went out to Sacred Harp singers, resulting in a marvelous class, pretty much “everybody who was anybody” in the singing world at that time. As typically, the recording session itself resulted in a staid, fairly unexciting recording. But afterwards, when the mike was turned off, the singers had a thrilling singing frenzy of fifteen to twenty songs, very up tempo and “no holds barred.” That was, he said, the second greatest class he ever was a part of. The greatest, to him, was the enormous class of singers from across the country who showed up for the 1990 recording of songs at Samford University made in preparation for the 1991 revision.

Lesson: Readings on some Sacred Harp Characters

1:00 p. m. Teacher—Buell Cobb read for the class some anecdotes he has written about Sacred Harp singers he has known. His longest writing was about Ruth Denson Edwards.

He shared a story told to him by Dick Niel, from Frederick Miller, about Ben Miller. The story related to 277. Melanie Hauff led 277.

He told stories of Lawrence and Lula Underwood. He told a story about Buford McGraw and 346. Warren Steel led 346.

Buell gave a detailed description of Wiregrass Singer, Annie Jewel Casey Boyd. She was excited to be present and physically expressed her involvement in the music.

Buell concluded with an account of Glen Laminack’s punishment for misbehavior, as a child, at a Sacred Harp singing.

Elective: The Makers of Sacred Harp II

2:00 p.m. Warren Steel told about three Lancaster sisters from Georgia: Ann, Sid, and Sally. They were descended from Jewish musicians named Lupo in the court of King Henry VIII. Ann Lancaster wrote 406. In a letter, J.P. Reese advised her to write the song in G major, instead of A major! Sarah (Sally) Lancaster moved to Texas with her husband, but continued to compose music, sending new songs with her letters to her family in Georgia.

There are no composers in the book from Mississippi, but Warren decided to offer a few connections. Singers in Natchez, Mississippi, were singing from round notes as early as 1820. J. T. White (page 89 and others), nephew of B. F. White, was a county clerk in Mississippi before moving to Texas, and may have introduced The Sacred Harp in the 1850’s. All day singings began in several locations around the state just after the Civil War. Hal Hawkins was a Primitive Baptist farmer who was opposed to slavery and never owned slaves. He was drafted, came home, and established a singing at Poplar Springs in 1867, which still continues today. Warren showed Hawkins’ tuning fork, which produces an A somewhat lower than modern pianos. As African American literacy increased after the war, Black Mississippians started their own singings and conventions.

After 1900, mass market publishers published small books of seven-shape gospel music, all in major keys, imitating popular song and dance music. Some conventions came to resemble quartet concerts, but some traditional singings remained. In 1957, Gospel Singers of America began a residential camp on the Gulf Coast that resembles Camp Fasola. Harmony Valley, a Primitive Baptist singing school, was founded in Natchez, but is now in north Mississippi. The Mississippi State Sacred Harp Convention was founded in 1929, and always included Christian Harmony singers. It attracted people from all over the state, including the Delta and southeast Mississippi. Black singers established a state convention in 1934. Uncle Bob Denson was born in Mississippi while his father was teaching a singing school. In 1959, R. A. Stewart started a Sunday morning radio program called “The Sacred Harp Hour” that continues to this day. He promoted the Denson book (the J. L. White book was mostly used at that time), and established a March singing for Alabama and Mississippi singers to sing together; that singing continues in Oxford. At one time, there were seventy annual singings associated with the State Convention, but many have declined all over the state. Mississippi singers have a few unusual practices: (1) In North Mississippi, most singers sing seven syllables while reading the four shapes in The Sacred Harp; (2) Since they formerly used the White book, they didn’t have alto on many songs, and occasionally speak of a “hollow triangle” instead of a square. The basses usually sit where altos sit elsewhere, facing the tenors; (3) In the song, “Weeping Mary”, where the individual parts enter at the end, the altos and trebles come in together.

A closing song at some conventions is “The Drone” (We’re traveling to the grave), which is sung from memory, but is now printed in the new Christian Harmony.

Elective: The Alto Part

2:00 p. m. Cassie Allen introduced herself to the class and told them she was a lifelong Sacred Harp singer. She began the class by saying most of the parts written for alto singers came from S. M. Denson. Cooper had written alto parts as early as 1902. S. M. Denson and Joe James both had books published with an alto part.

Cassie told the class that when the alto part was added to Sacred Harp music, it filled the chord structure and provided a closer harmony. The alto part leaves more open fifth’s, as in 52t. The alto part compliments the tenor well, like a second melody. Examples are “Saints Bound for Heaven” and “Farewell To All”. Cassie recommended reading pages 19-21 in the Rudiments.

She said that voices should blend. It is not good to overpower the other parts. One should try to match your neighbor’s voice.

Cassie reviewed accidental notes as found on page 19 of the Rudiments. The class sang 454 and 36b.

Cassie noted that the keyer will sometimes not give the alto note, and you have to find it on your own. One way to find the alto note is to look at the first note in the alto line and find it within the chord.

The class looked at 129 and 37b for examples of choice notes. Cassie said that it is up to you which one of the choice notes you sing.

The class sang 138t and 284 as example of three part songs. Altos, traditionally, defer to the bass line in three part songs. Cassie closed with a quote from David Ivey, “Alto is a good spice, but it is important not to belt it out.” The class ended by singing 472, and was dismissed.

Elective: The 75th Anniversary of the 1936 Revision

3:15 p.m. Teacher—Aldo Ceresa. The campers traveled to the old Winston County Courthouse and congregated on the front lawn where a monument was erected in 1944 honoring the Denson family. Aldo Ceresa spoke about the history and meaning of the Denson monument, the history of singing in this area, and Paine Denson. The class sang 330t.

Geraldine Sharpton, A. M. Cagle’s niece, spoke about the history of Winston County. She said after the state of Alabama seceded from the Union during the Civil War, Winston County tried to secede from the state, and its representative to the state legislature was jailed.

A group photo was taken in front of the Denson monument. From the old courthouse, the class went to a newly built court room. Some of the courthouse employees listened to the singing. Aldo led 342, and explained that Paine Denson served as a judge there and is buried nearby.

In the 1936 edition, there were forty-one new songs, all by living authors except one. Only five of those songs have been removed. Judy Caudle led 286 and told that her grandfather, L.E. Hopper, led this at the 1959 United Convention. Nathan Rees led 455. Aldo explained that Paine Denson thought the second part of this song should be in 2/4, not 4/4. He and Cagle were brothers-in-law, and had discussions about the songs they had written. Warren Steel led 456. Aldo Ceresa led 457. Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg led “Entrekin” by L. A. McGraw. The Entrekins were a singing family from west Georgia. The 1936 book had several new authors, including Elmer Kitchens from Jasper, Alabama, and O. A. Parris, who is buried nearby. Parris was well known as a gospel music publisher. The class sang 283 written by H. N. McGraw. Michael Walker led 377. Marcus Cagle began contributing songs in 1911. Lon Odom principally financed the 1936 edition and sponsored the republication of the James Book in the 1950’s. He loved Tom Denson and was a huge supporter of Sacred Harp and has two songs in the book named for him. Helen Brown led 340. Cassie Allen led 411, saying that her great-grandfather learned to sing from Tom Denson, and had gotten the Creel family involved in singing. The class returned to Camp McDowell.

Elective: The Dumas Family

3:15 p.m. Chloe Webb, author of Legacy of the Sacred Harp, presented a pictorial essay based on the 400-year saga of the Dumas family from our country’s beginning through the westward expansion. Campers were shown additional background photos of people and places not included in Legacy of the Sacred Harp. Research for the book had shown four significant periods in the family’s journey and four corresponding churches that gave identity and purpose to their lives. The music they sang reveals a trail of fasola Sacred Harp music connecting intimate personal stories in the historical settings in which they lived.

An artifact found in James Fort is a silver seal with an intricate scene—a skeleton with an hour-glass and an arrow—which reminded its owner of the short time he had on Earth, a recurring theme in Sacred Harp music. It is also a reminder of the legacy passed to all of us by human voices—their sacred harps—from their own living moments in time, when their lips could still speak, and sound could still ring in their ears.

Elective: The Hymns of a Slave-trader and a Madman: Newton and Cowper

4:45 p.m. Teacher—Matt Hinton. In 1788, Newton published a polemic against slavery called “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade”, in which he described the horrific conditions of the slave ships and offered “a confession, which ...comes too late ... It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

In December 1807, Newton died in London, and Britain abolished the slave trade in her colonies.

From his last will and testament: “I commit my soul to my gracious God and Savior, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer, and an infidel, and delivered me from the state of misery on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me; and who has been pleased to admit me (though most unworthy) to preach his glorious gospel.” (Cited in The Roots of Endurance, pg 45 (t? b?))

Newton’s Sacred Harp contributions: 34t The Gospel Pool, 45t New Britain, 52b Charlestown, 56t Columbiana, 56b Villulia, 68b Ortonville, 74b King of Peace, 82b Edgefield, 105 Jewett, 113 The Prodigal Son, 127 Green Fields, 148 Jefferson, 335 Return Again, 451 Mary’s Grief and Joy, 458 Friendship, 523 Pleyel’s Hymn.

In 1731, William Cowper was born the son of John Cowper, the Rector of Great Berkhamsted, and was educated at Westminster School in London.

Cowper’s mother died when he was only six years old and this event had a profound effect upon his already sensitive nature. Days later, his father sent him to public school. He attended Westminster School, and learned French, Latin, and Greek. In 1752, Cowper had his first great depression.

After leaving school, Cowper became articled to a solicitor and he was called to the bar. In 1763, Cowper was offered a clerkship in the House of Lords by his cousin, Major Cowper. However, by this stage, his fits of depression had became severe and he attempted suicide due to

a required public examination. Cowper was to suffer similar bouts of depression for the rest of his life and, as a result, he lived in virtual retirement. “I well recollect when I was about eleven years of age, my father desired me to read a vindication of self murder, and give him my sentiments upon the question: I did so, and argued against it. My father heard my reasons, and was silent, neither approving nor disapproving; from whence I inferred that he sided with the author against me.”

In 1795, Cowper moved, with Mary, to Norfolk. However, Mary died in 1796. It was during this period that he wrote his final poem, The Castaway.

Cowper died of dropsy in 1800.

William Cowper’s Sacred Harp contributions: 27 Bethel, 168 Cowper, 287 Cambridge, 397 The Fountain, 478 My Rising Sun.

Matt led 45t and 168, and the class was dismissed.

Community Singing

7:30 p.m. led by Holy Comforter Lodge. The community singing was held at Camp Fasola on Wednesday evening in the Camp McDowell Chapel, Double Springs, Alabama. The class was called to order by Rebecca Over leading 471. She welcomed everyone. Paula Picton offered the opening prayer.

The following officers served: Chairman—Rebecca Over; Vice Chairman—Paula Picton; Secretary—Terry Barber; Arranging Committee—Ginnie Ely, Lois Badey, and Lea Kouba.

Leaders: Ginnie Ely 313t; Lois Badey and Lea Kouba 217; Rick Foreman, Cheryl Foreman, Sonny Erwin, Chris Brown, and Judy Whiting 350; Michael Walker and Aine Cheallaigh 404; Eddie Mash and Matt Hinton 365; Nathan Rees and Wendy Futral 369; Philippa Stoddard and Dan McCarter 40; Wade Kotter 312b; Steve Adams and Cassie Allen 378b; Judy Caudle and Cassie Allen 440; Linda Sides and Ottis Sides 480; Donna McKay and Sonny Erwin 569b; Ellen Lueck and Annalise Perone 121; Andrew Mashchak 373; Al McCready 155; Dan Comstock 360; Geraldine Sharpton and Roberta Strauss 84; Steven Rogers and Nicoletta Rogers 328; Charlie Soape 44; Anne Drexler and Roberta Strauss 148; Mark Davis 240; Robert Stoddard 65; David Ivey and Cathy Robertson 86; Jonathon Smith 26; Charlotte Ehrman 383; Karen Ivey, Stuart Ivey, and Gillian Inksetter 209.


The class was brought back to order by Paula Picton leading 299. Leaders: Samuel Sommers and Beth Hall 437; Dan Brittain 201; Judy Mincey 492; Aldo Ceresa and Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg 316; Tom Malone and Ottis Sides 530; Eliza Marcus 501; Robert Kelley 444; Daniel Lee 63; Judy Hauff and Melanie Hauff 392; Barbara Swetman 390; Leon Pulsinelle 417; Eugene Forbes 73t; Richard Schmeidler 474; Leslie Hunter and Elizabeth Stoddard 503 (for Raymond Hamrick); Frank DeBolt 323b; Mary Skidmore 282; Ann Mashchak 106.

Rebecca Over made closing remarks, and thanked everyone for coming. She also thanked SHMHA, the Camp Fasola teachers and staff, and Camp McDowell for helping make this camp a success. David Ivey urged everyone to tell others about their experiences at Camp Fasola when they returned home, and to consider raising funds to send someone to camp next year.

Rebecca Over and David Ivey led 62 as the closing song. Roberta Strauss offered the closing prayer, and the class was dismissed.

SHMHA President—Jeff Sheppard; Camp Director—David Ivey