Digitized Version of J. L. White’s 1909 Fifth Edition of The Sacred Harp

Cover page of J. L. White’s 1909 The Sacred Harp: Fifth Edition, donated to the Sacred Harp Museum by Charles Whitmer.

The 1909 Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition is the first of J. L. White’s three different attempts at revising the Sacred Harp between 1909 and 1911. The book is a rarity in part because it was rejected by most Sacred Harp singers, who felt that White’s modernized harmonies and added gospel music ventured too far from tradition. While a contingent of singers continues to use the 2007 version of his moderated 1911 revision, the 1909 “White book” never found sustained use at conventions. For further reading about the competing revisions of the Sacred Harp in the early twentieth century, see Buell Cobb’s The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and its Music.

Charles Whitmer of Conroe, Texas, generously donated a copy of this rare songbook to the Sacred Harp Museum in 2014. Along with the hard copy of the book, Charles also provided us with a digital version which we’re making available online to anyone who is interested. You can download a searchable grayscale version of the digitized book as a PDF file created by Nathan Rees (86.1 MB). A high resolution archival quality digital version of the book is available to researchers and interested singers at the Sacred Harp Museum in Carrollton, Georgia.

Download J. L. White’s The Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition (86.1 MB PDF)

We look forward to making more of our collections accessible online in the future. The Sacred Harp Museum gratefully accepts donations of songbooks, correspondence and personal papers, minutes, photographs, audio and video recordings, press clippings, and other material related to Sacred Harp singing. Donating such materials to the Sacred Harp Museum ensures that they will be preserved, archived, and made accessible to interested singers and scholars for generations to come. We also welcome assistance with digitizing items in the museum’s collection. Please contact us with any questions.

—Nathan Rees

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