Monthly Archives: December 2017

Introducing Vol. 6, No. 2 of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter

The thirteenth issue of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter shares Sacred Harp’s long history in Mississippi as well as the story of its more recent arrival in Illinois. It features tributes to departed friends and offers new insights on … Continue reading

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Shape-Note Singing in Mississippi: A Preliminary History

While studies of Sacred Harp singing have concentrated on Georgia, Alabama, and Texas, the shape-note traditions of Mississippi have remained comparatively obscure. In 1933, George Pullen Jackson wrote, “I have not learned that there is in Mississippi any comprehensive state … Continue reading

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Building Community Harmony: Thirty-Three Years of Illinois State Sacred Harp Conventions

“I am going to bring nine people to Paxton, Illinois to organize a state convention. Saturday, May 25 is the date. St. Louis will be next.” That’s what Hugh McGraw, executive secretary of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, wrote on … Continue reading

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Remembering Toney Smith: Singer, Leader, Teacher, Organizer, Reviser, and Encourager

Editors’ note: Toney Smith, a member of the seven-person music committee that revised The Sacred Harp: 1991 Edition, received the Sacred Harp Publishing Company’s posthumous citation in 2017. In this tribute, David Ivey, who served with Toney Smith on the 1991 Edition music committee, … Continue reading

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B. M. Smith: A Loving, Caring Spirit and Front Bench Stalwart

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy And to walk humbly with your God. B. M. Smith of Silver Creek, Georgia, … Continue reading

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In Memory of Earlis McGraw, July 27, 1935–June 8, 2016

Editor’s Note: United Kingdom–based singer Rebecca Over fell in love with the songs of the McGraw family soon after she began singing Sacred Harp in 2009. An avid researcher, Rebecca got to know living McGraws such as Earlis during trips … Continue reading

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What I’ve Learned from My Sacred Harp Elders

My love of Sacred Harp began with my grandfather, Jim Fields, who took me to a singing school in 1958, when I was ten years old. H. N. “Bud” McGraw was the teacher. I was immediately in love with the … Continue reading

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Bound Together: What Makes an Effective Pairing of Text and Tune

In a skillfully composed [nineteenth-century American] composition, the whole acquired a larger significance not foreseeable by merely reading the words or examining the air. —Nicholas E. Tawa1 Why do the text and tune of certain Sacred Harp songs go so well … Continue reading

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The “Stacked Fourths” Chord: A Canonical Discord in The Sacred Harp

The rudiments of The Sacred Harp and other shape-note tunebooks have traditionally categorized the intervals between any two degrees of the scale, or dyads, as either concords, “which produce harmony when sounded together,” or discords, “which, when sounded together, produce … Continue reading

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Notes on Repairing Songbooks

The connection between a shape note singer and their songbook is always significant. Our songbooks are charged with love and memories and they are our constant companions; as with dogs their condition tells us a lot about their owner. I … Continue reading

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