The Legacy of the Sacred Harp

By Chloe Webb

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Curiosity about a tattered songbook, an 1869 edition of The Sacred Harp given to the author by her grandmother, sparked a quest to reconnect with Dumas family ancestors who composed, sang, and lived by the words of Sacred Harp fasola music. The term sacred harp refers to the human voice. Traveling across the South and sifting through unknown Dumas family history, Chloe Webb discovered personal circumstances of ordinary people caught in constraints of the specific times they lived. Their stories spanning four hundred years of generations are connected by fasola music sung continuously in the family since the early days of the Jamestown Colony

Webb’s research irreversibly transforms her rose-colored view of her heritage and brings endearing characters to life as the reality of the effects of slavery on Southern plantation life, the thriving tobacco industry, and the Civil War are revisited through the lens of the Dumas family. Wringing history from boxes of keepsakes, lively interviews, dusty archival libraries, and church records, Webb keeps Sacred Harp lyrics ringing in readers’ ears, allowing the poetry to illuminate the lessons and trials of the past. The choral shape-note music of the Sacred Harp whispers to us of the past, of the religious persecution that brought the music to our shores, and how the voices of contemporary Sacred Harp singers still ring out the unchanged lyrics across the South, pulling the past into our present.

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
  • ISBN: 978-0875654164

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