Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Fa-Sol-La Worship Service

Mercer County, Kentucky

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The nineteenth* annual meeting of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers at Mt. Zion Methodist Church was necessarily deferred till 2021. Pastor James Thobaben was impressed with the value of this event to his congregation as well as the shape-note community and, inspired by the Big Singing Day Digital Get-Together, he resolved to “keep going an important tradition.” This service was held on the church lawn in lieu of our traditional half-day singing. Given the scarcity of Southern Harmony books, song selections this year were from The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition or from memory only.

The service was called to order on the church lawn at 2:55 p.m. by James Thobaben offering the opening prayer, and a welcome to attendees of all religious traditions. Leaders: James Thobaben 73b; Rafi Finkel 479; Ron Pen 223; Randy Webber 28b; Tim Gregg 63; Turner Lyman 45t; Kay Huffman 503; Cathy Taylor 312b (with comment by Dr. Thobaben regarding the belovedness of this song in the Mt. Zion congregation); Erin Fulton 146 (in memory of Harry Eskew); Susan Liddle 178; James Thobaben 16 (SoH); Marcelyn Thobaben 159; Ron Pen 186; Rafi Finkel 66; Ron Pen 38t (in honor of Mary Brinkman and her family); James Thobaben 267 (in memory of Tierre Williams). The class of thirteen chilly but cheerful singers was dismissed with a benediction from the scripture of 186: “Good will to men.”

Though no memorial was conducted, we wish the loved ones of Kentucky singers to have a place in these minutes. We mourn the loss of Margaret Spurlock—Alabama; Harry Eskew and Brooke Webber—Georgia; Rev. Douglas Simpson—Indiana; Barbara Jean Grossman, John Pickow, and Tierre Quantrell Williams—Kentucky; Peter Golden—Maine; Bill Beverly—Michigan; Sonny Erwin and Curtis Owen—Texas. Our thoughts are with the continued health of our friends Baird Lyman, Peggy Brinkman, Pat Waggener, Jesse Vear, and Laura Densmore.

Thanks are due to the Mt. Zion congregation for welcoming this service; James and Marcelyn Thobaben for convening it; Ron Pen and Tim Gregg for providing loaner books and Clorox wipes; and all who braved the inclement weather. We sincerely hope that this will be the last time we must meet in this way, as well as the first. Regardless, we consider ourselves blessed to have been able to gather and are determined to keep singing in whatever manner we can for as long as we possibly can.

Note regarding 19th annual: we counted better this year.

Chairman—James Thobaben; Vice Chairwoman—Marcelyn Thobaben; Secretary—Erin Fulton