The Makers of the Sacred Harp
A comprehensive guide to the texts and tunes of an American musical tradition
This authoritative reference work investigates the roots of the Sacred Harp, the central collection of the deeply influential and long-lived southern tradition of shape-note singing. Where other studies of the Sacred Harp have focused on the sociology of present-day singers and their activities, David Warren Steel and Richard H. Hulan concentrate on the regional culture that produced the Sacred Harp in the nineteenth century and delve deeply into history of its authors and composers. They trace the sources of every tune and text in the Sacred Harp, from the work of B. F. White, E. J. King, and their west Georgia contemporaries who helped compile the original collection in 1844 to the contributions by various composers to the 1936 to 1991 editions.
The Makers of the Sacred Harp also includes analyses of the textual influences on the music--including metrical psalmody, English evangelical poets, American frontier preachers, camp meeting hymnody, and revival choruses--and essays placing the Sacred Harp as a product of the antebellum period with roots in religious revivalism. Drawing on census reports, local histories, family Bibles and other records, rich oral interviews with descendants, and Sacred Harp Publishing Company records, this volume reveals new details and insights about the history of this enduring American musical tradition.
"Hymnologists and sacred harp singers will delight in this book. Highly recommended."--Choice
"An important book that adds substance and clarity to existing research on the early decades of The Sacred Harp. . . . Highly recommended.--Notes
"An indispensable source for those studying the music of the South."--Journal of Southern Religion
"The Makers of the Sacred Harp fills a significant gap in the American music history literature by investigating the biographies of two centuries of American composers and poets who have contributed to the shape-note hymnody repertoire. It will be invaluable to American hymnologists and contemporary Sacred Harp singers."--Kiri Miller, author of Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism
Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund.
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