The annual North Carolina Sacred Harp Convention is expanding to two days this year, featuring one day of singing in Raleigh (Saturday, March 4) and a second day of singing in Durham on Sunday, March 5! Learn more about the program on Sunday, March 5 in Durham
Sacred Harp singing is the largest surviving branch of what is known as traditional American shape note singing. Singers in this tradition sing without accompaniment and sit arranged by vocal part in a “hollow square,” facing one another across the square and taking turns at leading from the middle of the square.
On Saturday, March 4, singers will sing from the book The Sacred Harp. The 1991 edition of this book is widely used in shape note singing circles, and it is a historically important tunebook that was first published in 1844 by B.F. White and E. J. King. To compile the 1991 Edition, a music committee of prominent Sacred Harp singers added 62 songs and deleted 46 rarely sung older songs and anthems. The added songs include late 18th- and early 19th-century classics of New England and Southern origin and new songs by living composers from the South, Northeast, and Midwest. The scores of all 554 songs were entirely retypeset for easier legibility. Sources and dates of tunes and texts were revised to reflect modern scholarship by Professors Warren Steel and William J. Reynolds. You can learn more about this history book and order your own copy via The Original Sacred Harp website.
On both days of the Convention, the songbook in use will be available, both for loan and for sale.
Both days will also feature a potluck “dinner on the grounds” lunch option, or you can dine out on your own during the lunch break.
Saturday evening, join the singers for a social at the First Presbyterian Church in Durham from 6-9 p.m.: there will be food, drink, and very likely more singing! The entrance is at the back of the church, off its parking lot, which is accessed from Roxboro Street. The church address is 305 E Main St; the church is on the corner of Main and Roxboro streets.
And don’t forget, the shape note singers meet on the second Sunday of each month at the First Presbyterian Church in Durham from 2-4 p.m., and on the fourth Sunday of each month at the historic Mordecai Chapel in Raleigh from 1:50-3:50 p.m., keeping alive this unique a cappella singing tradition! You can learn more about local shape note singing programs and opportunities via the NC Shape Note website.