Shape Note Books, Recordings, and Websites
The major websites for shape note information are the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association's website fasola.org and Prof. Warren Steel's Sacred Harp singing site. The latter includes Steven Sabol's resource guide.
Fasola.org hosts two e-mail lists for shape note enthusiasts. See their mailing list information page to find out how to subscribe.
Christian Harmony information can be found at christianharmony.org.
The Sacred Harp was first published in 1844. Three descendants of that book are sung from regularly in Georgia: The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition (a.k.a. the Denson book), the 2006 B. F. White Sacred Harp (a.k.a. the Cooper book), and the 1911 J. L. White revision, recently reprinted. Other shape note books used in the state include the Social Harp and the Eclectic Harmony collections. The two newest books are The Georgian Harmony, a collection of new works by shape-note composer Raymond Hamrick of Macon, Georgia, and the 2010 revision of the seven-shape Christian Harmony, combining William Walker’s 1873 edition (“Carolina book”) with the 2002 printing of the Deason-Parris revision (“Alabama book”).
None of these books cost more than $27. The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition is published by the Sacred Harp Publishing Company in Carrollton, GA. The price is $15 per book plus shipping. Ordering information is on the publishing company website. The book is also for sale at many singings. To buy the J. L. White revision or The Georgian Harmony, contact John Plunkett, bildad12 -at- hotmail.com. Contact Michael Spencer, TheChristianHarmony.com, to order the 2010 Christian Harmony. The 2009 reprint of the Social Harp is available from the University of Georgia Press through Amazon. For information on other tunebooks and how to order them, see Steven Sabol's tunebooks page.
The Sacred Harp minutes book is an annual reference which contains a worldwide directory of this year's singings, minutes of last year's singings, and names and addresses of singers. The books are paid for by the money collected at singings and are sent to the secretary of the singing for distribution. At a singing, talk to the person who is writing down leaders' names and song numbers. Chances are she or he has copies of the minutes book to give away.
Matt and Erica Hinton recently completed "Awake, My Soul," the first feature-length documentary film about the Sacred Harp tradition. This documentary was a 7-year effort, filmed at many singings. See the website at awakemysoul.com
Lisa Grayson has written a downloadable flyer in PDF format titled "First Time at a Sacred Harp Singing?"
Warren Steel has posted the following how-to articles and more.
Museum exhibits in Georgia
The Sacred Harp Museum in Carrollton houses a collection of songbooks, recordings, articles, and memorabilia. It is usually open following a nearby singing. The publishing company website gives directions.
The Atlanta History Center includes shape note singing in its folklife exhibition. There is a listening chapel where you can hear a loop of recordings from about a dozen folk traditions, including one 4-shape tune (Present Joys) and one 7-shape tune. Facing the entrance to the chapel is a case displaying a photo of Hugh McGraw leading at a 1989 West Georgia singing and copies of 1911 and 1991 Sacred Harps and a Christian Harmony. (See if you can spot a Sacred Harp in the Civil War gallery, too.) Though the shape note display is small, the museum as a whole is well worth a visit.
There is a Sacred Harp display at the Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross. It gives the history of Sacred Harp in the area. If you are interested in visiting it, contact the Okefenokee Heritage Center.
Note: E-mail addresses on this page not already known to be on the web are shown with " -at- " in place of the "@" sign. In order to use these addresses, you must insert the "@" sign in place of " -at- ", with no spaces or dashes. This is to prevent abuse by spammers who scan the web for e-mail addresses.
Last updated January 4, 2011. Additions, corrections, comments, or questions? Send us an email