SU Hosts Sacred Harp Singing Events Nov. 18-19
SALISBURY, MD---Sacred Harp singing is the oldest surviving form of American music.
Salisbury University explores this southern U.S. tradition with two presentations in November as part of this fall’s “Expressions of Spirituality” cultural events series.
At 7 p.m. Friday, November 18, SU screens the 2006 documentary Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, followed by a discussion and brief singing school led by the film’s co-writer and director, Matt Hinton. On Saturday, November 19, the community is invited to join in a Sacred Harp singing from 10 a.m.-noon. Both are in the Great Hall of Holloway Hall.
Believed to have its roots in the country parish music of early 18th-century England, Sacred Harp is a form of rural church singing named after an 1844 songbook by Benjamin Franklin White and Elisha King. In many churches, the practice is highly participatory among the congregation.
Normally sung in a square divided into altos, trebles, tenors and basses, Sacred Harp is sung based on shaped notes that relate to syllables in the “do-re-mi” scale. As singers learn the song, they replace the syllables with words. Many popular gospel songs, such as “Amazing Grace” and “How Long, Dear Savior,” began as Sacred Harp songs.