Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Let Us Sing! the South of England
Sacred Harp Convention

Civic Hall, Didcot, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

June 7-8, 2014

Saturday, June 7

Steve Fletcher called the class to order by leading 34b. She welcomed the assembled singers to Let Us Sing! South of England Sacred Harp Convention, 2014, and called upon Richard Percival to offer the opening prayer. By way of a singing school, Steve brought to the attention of the singers the resources available to assist with learning to sing shape-note music: charts and diagrams, the Rudiments in the Sacred Harp, and the experience of singers in the room. She then outlined points of convention etiquette, which encourages all leaders to contribute to the pleasant experience of the singers by considering appropriate choices of songs throughout the day.

Leaders: Steve Fletcher 212; Nick Hall 36b; Toby Goss 300; Sheila Girling Macadam 523; Heather Thompson 178; Rachel Jordan 52t; Mandy Townsend 480; Richard Percival 49b; Sofi Mogensen 312b; Michael Walker 31t; Steve Welch 147b; Alan Williams 84; Edmund Richardson 111b; Phil Owen 296; Adrian Bolge 107.


The class was called to order by Nick Hall leading 318. Leaders: Edwin Macadam 192; Dil Scott 40; Toby Goss 203; Sheila Girling Macadam 534; Heather Thompson 47b; Rachel Jordan 183; Mandy Townsend 217; Richard Percival 479; Sofi Mogensen 102; Michael Walker 506; Steve Welch 489; Edmund Richardson 148; Phil Owen 38b; Adrian Bolge 503; Edwin Macadam 121; Sheila Girling Macadam 442; Heather Thompson 284; Rachel Jordan 344; Nick Hall 231. Mary Bolge offered grace before lunch.


Richard Percival opened the afternoon session by leading 452. Leaders: Toby Goss 315; Heather Thompson 146; Mandy Townsend 448t; Sofi Mogensen 228; Michael Walker 475; Steve Welch 50b; Steve Fletcher 481; Phil Owen 204; Edmund Richardson 134; Alan Williams 569b; Adrian Bolge 77t; Richard Percival 504; Toby Goss 474; Rachel Jordan and Chloe Marshall 99; Nick Hall 528; Sofi Mogensen 65; Heather Thompson 86; Mandy Townsend 490; Michael Walker 507.


Steve Fletcher opened the final session of the day by leading 299. Leaders: Steve Welch 150; Edmund Richardson 32t; Phil Owen 106; Alan Williams 472; Adrian Bolge 87; Nick Hall 223; Rachel Jordan 391; Heather Thompson 535; Mandy Townsend 441; Richard Percival 361; Werner Ullah 133; Sofi Mogensen 278t; Michael Walker 573; Alan Williams 277; Phil Owen 430; Steve Welch 31b; Edmund Richardson 313t.

Following announcements of forthcoming singings, thanks were given to the many people who had helped with various tasks during the day. Adrian Bolge offered the closing prayer. Steve Fletcher led 46 as the closing song, and the class was dismissed.

Alternative Singing

Michael Walker introduced The Christian Harmony, 2012 Edition, and the Aiken 7-shape system of notation. He then led 78b (CH), 50 (CH), 59t (CH), 94 (CH), 26t (CH), 61t (CH), 61b (CH), 55b (CH), 354 (CH), 208b (CH), 64 (CH), 144 (CH), and 101 (CH).

Steve Fletcher then led selected “New England and New Writings” songs. From Norumbega Harmony she led “Maryland”, “Walpole”, “Ten Thousand Charms”, and “Lancaster”. From Northern Harmony she led “Birmingham” and “Warren”. The session ended with a piece written by Mick Verrier named “New England”.

Sunday, June 8

The Sunday session of Let Us Sing! The South of England Sacred Harp Convention was called to order by Steve Fletcher leading 178. She welcomed singers to the second day of Let Us Sing! and called upon Martin Williams to offer the opening prayer.

Michael Walker conducted a singing school on the topic of accent. Having complimented UK singers on their ability to stay in tune, he went on to say that we tend to alter our rhythms to suit the words, using free rhythm much as we would when singing folk songs. American singers, by contrast, use accent to keep the time consistent. He showed us how to accent on the primary and secondary beats in each bar whilst holding back on unaccented beats. We sang the following songs by way of illustration: 146, 275t, and 318.

Leaders: Matthew Parkinson 101t; Mandy Townsend 72b; Alan Williams 284; Tom Gerber 74b; Steve Brett 48t; Michael Walker 122 (on behalf of Maggie Eiseman-Renyard); Barry Parsons 274b; Pete Eiseman-Renyard 49t; Michael Walker 230; Steve Fletcher 163t (on behalf of Jac Gehring); Matt Parkinson 89; Tom Gerber 108b; Steve Brett 37b; Alan Williams 425; Mandy Townsend 112; Pete Eiseman-Renyard 47t; Barry Parsons 417.

Steve Fletcher conducted a joint memorial lesson and sick and housebound lesson, taking as her theme “The moral of the elephant”, which demonstrated the benefits of bringing together all points of view in order to see the whole picture, whilst celebrating the diversity within the Sacred Harp community. She related this to different approaches to death. Claire Shearman read the names on the Memorial List (all from UK): Roy Jones, Old Marston, Oxford; Dudley K. Fuller, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire; Douglas Hall, Warwick; Ted Alderson, Tatsfield, Surrey; Veronica Shrub, Tatsfield, Surrey; Irene Owen, Tatsfield, Surrey; Steve Arch, Lewes, Sussex; Jean Bell, Lewes, Sussex; Don Bishop, Lewes, Sussex; Sara Ray, London; Dorothy Williams.

Steve then considered different experiences of ill health. Samantha Cole read the names on the sick and housebound list (all from UK): Jackie Saunders, Patricia Price, Jan Lawrence, Mary Wray, Moya Wolfe, and Drew Logan. Following a few moments of silent contemplation, Steve led 411.

Leaders: Michael Walker 435; Matt Parkinson 204; Pete Eiseman-Renyard 84; Steve Brett 512; Tom Gerber 76b; Barry Parsons 33t; Mandy Townsend 490; Michael Walker 129; Steve Fletcher 472. Martin Williams offered grace before lunch.


Tom Gerber called the class to order by leading 68b. Leaders: Matt Parkinson 69b; Alan Williams 70b; Mandy Townsend 313b; Steve Brett 182; Michael Walker 153; Barry Parsons 128; Pete Eiseman-Renyard 117; Steve Fletcher 383; Matt Parkinson 213t; Tom Gerber 334; Alan Williams 299; Mandy Townsend 302; Steve Brett 142; Michael Walker 309; Barry Parsons 436; Pete Eiseman-Renyard 40; Steve Fletcher 148; Matt Parkinson 569b; Steve Brett 426b; Mandy Townsend 448b; Tom Gerber 100; Alan Williams 183; Pete Eiseman-Renyard 143; Michael Walker 209; Barry Parsons 338; Steve Fletcher 155; Matt Parkinson 157; Alan Williams 323b; Steve Brett 504; Steve Fletcher 29t; Mandy Townsend 542; Michael Walker 225t.

Following announcements of forthcoming singings, thanks were given to the many people who had helped with various tasks today. Martin Williams offered the closing prayer. Steve Fletcher led 46 as the closing song, and the class was dismissed.

Chairman—Steve Fletcher; Secretaries—Sofi Mogensen and Werner Ullah