Category Archives: Read the Old Paths

Stories about people and events central to the history of our music.

Grandpa McWhorter: Singer and Civil Servant

The issuance early last year of the reproduction of the 1911 Original Sacred Harp (the James Book) caused me to reflect upon the extraordinary influence that historic old book and its predecessors had on common community life throughout the deep … Continue reading

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The W. T. Gwin Old Harp Singers Trophy: A Unique Piece of Sacred Harp Memorabilia from Mississippi

An Unexpected Object on the Front Porch A unique piece of Sacred Harp memorabilia came to light recently. On April 13 of this year, my wife Anne and I arrived at our home in Oxford, Mississippi, to find an unexpected … Continue reading

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Sacred Harp Singing: A Way of Wife

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published in the Huntsville Sacred Harp Newsletter, no. 18 (February 1994), edited by David Ivey. Thanks to David and to the author for suggesting it for inclusion in this issue. How many of you … Continue reading

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The Advancement of Sacred Harp Music

Introduction An exceptional singer and unparalleled supporter of Sacred Harp, Ruth Denson Edwards was also one of the most eloquent chroniclers of the music and its community. Singers today who were not fortunate enough to have known her might recognize her … Continue reading

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American Tunes in West Gallery Sources

The conventional model of the flow of hymn tunes across the Atlantic is that music went from the United Kingdom to America in the years before the American Revolution and that American tunes came across to Britain in the 1860s … Continue reading

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Elphrey Heritage: Northern Contributor to the Nineteenth-century Sacred Harp

All of the direct contributors to the nineteenth-century editions of The Sacred Harp lived in Georgia or Alabama with one exception: Elphrey Heritage, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.1 Heritage contributed two songs to the 1870 fourth edition of The Sacred Harp: “Warning” … Continue reading

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The Chattahoochee Convention, August 1, 1880: Memorial for Benjamin Franklin White

Benjamin Franklin White, co-compiler of The Sacred Harp, prolific composer, and the person largely responsible for building the traditions that continue to define Sacred Harp singing, died on December 5, 1879. The following year, the Chattahoochee Musical Convention, at that … Continue reading

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A Happy Life: Reflections on Sacred Harp Singing by Barrett Ashley

On Sunday, July 4, 1993, after the end of the second day of the Henagar-Union Sacred Harp Singing Convention in Henagar, Alabama, Chicago Sacred Harp singer Jerry Enright sat down with Barrett Ashley, a singer from Collinsville, Alabama, and one … Continue reading

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Our Debt to George Pullen Jackson

Introduction At the 1965 session of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association, held in Nashville, music educator Irving Wolfe delivered a speech on George Pullen Jackson’s contributions to Sacred Harp. Jackson, whose series of books and articles published between 1926 … Continue reading

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In the Footsteps of Lee Andrew McGraw

It was a warm, sunny afternoon in early summer 2009. Sitting in the garden with my brand new copy of The Sacred Harp I was following the advice in the rudiments to open the book at random and say the … Continue reading

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