2. Books and Booklets About Shape-Note Music

Note regarding out-of-print books: This list includes some important monographs that were in print within the past twenty years but are now out of print. One may find them in large libraries. Used copies may be sold through Amazon.com and similar online stores. Also, digital images of some or all pages of certain books, most notably those in the public domain, may be found on Google Books. Finally, a growing number of books can be printed on demand in paperback format by various publishers or even "while you wait" at retail bookstores possessing a printing machine such as the Espresso Book Machine.

The Makers of the Sacred Harp by David Warren Steel with Richard H. Hulan. Published in November 2010, this long-awaited companion to The Sacred Harp is a comprehensive guide to the composers, texts, and tunes of this tunebook. The publisher's website states: "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." The final chapter of the book on the songs of The Sacred Harp (1991 Edition) provides more detailed information on the sources of words and music of each song than what is in the tunebook itself. Cases in which a tune is a variant of another tune are briefly pointed out. Warren Steel is a Professor (now Emeritus) of Music and Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi; Richard Hulan, who wrote the chapters on the poetic texts, is an independent scholar of American folk hymnody. The cover features newly commissioned artwork by Bethanne Hill. The book is a must for all serious Sacred Harp singers. The book has 346 pages (not 240 pages as stated in Amazon.com), 10 plates, and 3 genealogical charts. Available in clothbound edition (ISBN 978-0-252-03567-8) and paperbound edition (ISBN 978-0-252-07760-9. Published in the Music in American Life Series of the University of Illinois Press. Sacred Harp singers may order the book from either of two nonprofit organizations at discounted prices while supplies last: The Sacred Harp Publishing Co. and the Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation Online Store. (The former takes PayPal and checks, while the latter takes PayPal and credit/debit cards.)

Addenda and Corrigenda compiled by Warren Steel includes additional illustrations not found in the printed book, along with errata and updated information obtained from recent research.
On October 21, 2010 Professor Steel presented at the Library of Congress a Botkin Lecture, in which he discussed some of the contents of his book. The video of the lecture is found at the Library of Congress archives site.

Songs Before Unknown: A Companion to The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition 2012 by R. L. Vaughn. East Texas Sacred Harp singer Robert L. Vaughn, the foremost researcher of the Cooper Sacred Harp's history, tunes, composers, and poets, drew his findings together in this impressive reference work, self-published in late 2015 to serve as a companion to the Cooper book. Mr. Vaughn's book presents (1) a summary of the history of The Sacred Harp leading up to the Cooper revision, (2) a biography of W. M. Cooper, (3) a detailed history of the origins of the Cooper book and its revision history, (4) biographical sketches and often photos of the composers having songs in the Cooper book (2012 Edition) if not found in D. Warren Steel's The Makers of The Sacred Harp (reviewed immediately above), and (5) a list of each song in the book by page order with the author of the hymn and composer of the tune if known. Seven appendices add supporting information. The book concludes with extensive lists of citations and endnotes, confirming the diligent scholarship that went into this book. This long awaited companion to the Cooper book is a must for all singers who thirst for knowledge about this tunebook and its songs. A PDF sample of the first fifteen pages is freely downloadable. Published by Waymark Publications, 3528 CR 3168 W, Mt. Enterprise, TX 75681. 330 pages. ISBN 978-0-69252-247-9. The price is $15.00 per copy, plus $4.00 shipping and handling to U.S. addresses. To order, send a check payable to Waymark Publications at the address above.

Songs Before Unknown eBook. An e-book version has been prepared by Karen Willard and is suitable for Kindles, iPads, and other tablets. It sells for $10. For more information please contact R. L. Vaughn at rl_vaughn-at-yahoo-dot.com.
Errata and Addenda for Songs Before Unknown is found on Mr. Vaughn's blog.

The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music, by Buell E. Cobb, Jr. This excellent and unique scholarly account of all aspects of the Sacred Harp tradition has been required reading for every serious Sacred Harp singer. Although in need of updating, it should still be read, along with the 2010 book The Makers of the Sacred Harp by Steel with Hulan (described above) and Buell Cobb's 2013 memoir (described immediately below), for a detailed overview of the tradition and the music. The author is an Alabamian who was drawn into Sacred Harp in his college years and later wrote a Master's thesis on the subject. While some scholarly studies examine the tradition from the outside, Mr. Cobb, a gifted writer and singer whose phenomenal treble voice is heard at many singings each year, observes and analyzes the musical and social aspects of the Southern tradition from the inside, yet with objectivity and perspicacity. This book was initially published in hardback in 1978 and was reissued in paperback (Brown Thrasher edition, 254 pages) in 1989 with an updated preface describing the status of Sacred Harp singing in 1988. Because much has changed in the expanding Sacred Harp world since Mr. Cobb wrote the book and the later preface, the book does not describe the national and international expansion of Sacred Harp singing activities in the 1990s and later. Furthermore, the appendix listing all Southern singings, not revised since 1978, is no longer accurate. (For current singing information, see minutes books listed later in this chapter.) The 1989 paperback edition was out of print but has reappeared in the catalog of the publisher, the University of Georgia Press. It is also available through major online outlets such as Amazon.com. ISBN 0-8203-2371-3. The price is $22.95.

Like Cords Around My Heart: A Sacred Harp Memoir by Buell Cobb. After publishing and updating his 1978 monograph (described above), Mr. Cobb has continued to be the ultimate Sacred Harp insider -- a traditional Alabama singer with remarkable musical, interpersonal, and literary talents who has spent a half-century attending singings (from multiple Sacred Harp tunebook editions), getting to know thousands of singers, serving as an officer of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, and all during this time studying, analyzing, and writing eloquently about the tradition and its community. This memoir, published in late 2013, is aptly titled from a phrase in the traditional closing song PARTING HAND. Mr. Cobb here writes in an entertaining yet accurate style about his remembrances concerning important events and major figures in the Sacred Harp world in the South from around the 1950s to the present. Most of the persons described in detail are now deceased and were major figures within not only Denson-book circles but also Cooper-book circles of singers, as well as groups of African-American Sacred Harp singers using either book. Mr. Cobb presents these personalities in an admiring, positive manner. He does not attempt to cover every important Southern Sacred Harper; he covers only those about whom he could present interesting observations and stories based on his personal interaction. One person discussed in detail who is fortunately not deceased is Mr. Cobb himself, who has included much interesting autobiographical material. The target audience for this memoir is Sacred Harp singers and those familiar with Sacred Harp, but there is a glossary at the beginning for those who are not familiar. It is not intended to be an introduction to the Sacred Harp tradition; the three books described above are more suitable for that purpose. It is intended to record for posterity Mr. Cobb's fond memories of important singers and events in the heartland of Sacred Harp (Alabama and Georgia); thus it should be of interest to younger Sacred Harpers and those less familiar with the original roots of Sacred Harp. The book does not cover in depth the recent growth of Sacred Harp singing outside the South, a growth which Mr. Cobb has nurtured by extensive interaction with Northern singers -- definitely a topic for another memoir. The paperback version has 416+ pages and includes many remarkable historical photographs. ISBN 1478704624. Published and printed-on-demand by Outskirts Press and available both in paperback print form (list price $24.95) and e-book format (Kindle, Nook) from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Like Cords Around My Heart Audiobook. Master storyteller Buell Cobb has narrated the entirety of his book (described above) to provide 14 hours of fascinating listening, produced at the urging of many Sacred Harpers who had heard Mr. Cobb narrate selections from his book at after-singing social events. The Sacred Harp Publishing Co. has produced a package which includes complete audio recordings on two MP3 CDs (a compressed format playable on some CD players and most computers), four regular audio CDs of 12 chapters playable on any audio system with musical illustrations and never-before-released audio, and a 24-page booklet including exclusive photographs from private archives, a preface by Nathan Rees and notes by Mr. Cobb. The audiobook has been very well received by the Sacred Harp community. Sample audio clips and detailed ordering information by Paypal or check are found on the publisher's webpage. The price of the package is $40.00 plus $5.00 shipping to continental U.S. addresses.

[NEW] Antigodlin Stories of the Sacred Harp by John Lawrence Brasher. In this book issued in early 2023, Professor Brasher writes in the Introduction: "Much of this book focuses on the history and people of Sacred Harp singing in one particular community in northeast Alabama where my family has lived for 175 years. It relies on the hitherto unpublished oral narratives that deserve to see print. I hope that their content may enhance understanding of the wider Sacred Harp tradition and its strong and worthy people." The word "antigodlin," which the author learned from rural people in Alabama, means "at an odd angle." Chapter 1 presents John Lakin Brasher's stories of his father, singing-school teacher The Rev. John Jackson Brasher. Chapter 2 offers stories about singing-school teacher Hatter Bill Reneau related by his great-great-grandson, Cap Maynor. Chapter 3 contains stories told by John Lakin Brasher that portray singers and singing customs of his youth in rural north Alabama in the 1870s and 1880s. In Chapter 4 the author recall his own experiences in the 1960s and 1970s at family reunions and singings in north Alabama. Chapter 5 recounts his continuing involvement in Sacred Harp singing when he was at Yale University in 1969 and describes his friendship with Ruth Denson Edwards. Chapter 6 recalls his memories of singing and singers in the 1960s and 1970s at the then-strong Warrior River Convention in northeast Alabama. Chapter 7 describes the change in the singings that he has observed over sixty years and reflect on the possible future of the now burgeoning Sacred Harp tradition. The book should be of particular interest to Sacred Harp singers in the southern U.S. Buell Cobb writes, "Larry has made a great contribution to our knowledge of Sacred Harp singers in the 19th and 20th centuries. No one else has brought us such an up-close portrait. An amazing study, with so much detail, so much humor, so much poignance. I can't recommend it highly enough!" Hardcover, 294 pp. ISBN 1088062601. The book is available from Amazon at a discount from the list price of $27.95.

I Belong to This Band, Hallelujah: Community, Spirituality, and Tradition Among Sacred Harp Singers, by Laura Clawson. Published in 2011, Laura Clawson, a professional writer as well as a Sacred Harp singer, draws on her own experience to describe and analyze the feelings of community and transcendence felt by both traditional Southern singers and diverse singers from outside the South, all of whom eventually find that the joy of singing Sacred Harp leads them to care for each other in spite of exceedingly diverse backgrounds. The themes of the book are the making of music, of authenticity, and of community. She describes Sacred Harp communities in the Sand Mountain region of northeastern Alabama, west Georgia, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New England. As a participant in the recording of songs for the movie "Cold Mountain" and the subsequent Academy Awards ceremony, she describes from an insider's perspective the effect that this brief spotlight had on the Sacred Harp community. Both this book and Kiri Miller's Traveling Home cover some of the same issues, but because the sets of experiences of the two authors are not identical, both should be of great interest to Sacred Harp singers. 224 pages. Published by the University of Chicago Press in three editions: clothbound (ISBN: 9780226109589), paperbound (ISBN: 9780226109596), and E-book for Kindle, iPad, etc. (ISBN: 9780226109633). The Table of Contents and selected excerpts can be read on the Amazon.com page for this book.

Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism by Kiri Miller. Published in late 2007, this 272-page book by a Sacred Harp singer and assistant professor of music at Brown University is an expansion of her doctoral dissertation in ethnomusicology at Harvard University. This book deals in depth with the development and national expansion (which she calls "diaspora") of Sacred Harp singing during the past two decades, examining how and why people from diverse backgrounds throughout America and beyond became attracted to Sacred Harp singing and joined the expanding community of singers. The book is a sociological analysis, scholarly in style albeit anecdotal and somewhat rambling, of important issues, debates, changes, and growing pains within this diverse community. It should be highly interesting reading for active "diaspora" or "revivalist" Sacred Harpers. Prof. Miller researched the book extensively through interviews with many singers at traditional Sacred Harp singings, particularly in Chicago, Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, and California. This book is in the Music in American Life series. Prof. Miller previously compiled a sourcebook on the Chattahoochee Musical Convention (described below). Editions are clothbound (ISBN 978-0-252-03214-1) and paperbound (ISBN 978-0-252-07757-9). The clothbound is listed on Amazon.com as well.

The Legacy of the Sacred Harp by Chloe Webb. This book, written by a member of a prominent Sacred Harp singing family in east Texas and published in November 2010, is described by the publisher (TCU Press) as follows: "Author Chloe Webb follows the history of this musical form back four hundred years, and in the process uncovers the harrowing legacy of her Dumas family line. The journey begins in contemporary Texas with an overlooked but historically rich family heirloom, a tattered 1869 edition of The Sacred Harp songbook. Traveling across the South and sifting through undiscovered family history, Webb sets out on a personal quest to reconnect with her ancestors who composed, sang, and lived by the words of Sacred Harp music. Her 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 paperback book has 256 pages and 50 photos. ISBN 978-0-87565-416-4. List price $20. Sacred Harp singers may order it from either of two nonprofit organizations while supplies last: The Sacred Harp Publishing Co. and the Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation Online Store. (The former takes PayPal and checks and the latter takes PayPal and credit/debit cards.)

Public Worship, Private Faith: Sacred Harp and American Folksong, by John Bealle. This 320-page book by a Cincinnati historian and long-time Sacred Harp singer was published in October, 1997. The publisher's catalog states (in part): "Bealle surveys definitive moments in American musical history from the vantage of the distinctive musical idiom [of the Sacred Harp]: from the lively singing schools of the New England Puritans to the dramatic theological crises that split New England Congregationalism, from the rise of the genteel urban mainstream in frontier Cincinnati to the bold "New South" movement that sought to transform the Southern economy, from the nostalgic culture writing era of the Great Depression to the rise of the post-WWII folksong revival. Although Bealle finds that much has changed in the last century, the custodians of the tradition of Sacred Harp singing have kept it alive and accessible in an increasingly diverse cultural marketplace. Public Worship, Private Faith is a thorough and readable analysis of the historical, social, musical, theological, and textual factors that have contributed to the endurance of Sacred Harp singing." University of Georgia Press. Hardback, ISBN 082031921X. Paperback ISBN 0820319880.

A Sacred Feast: Reflections on Sacred Harp Singing and Dinner on the Ground by Kathryn Eastburn. This hardcover 212-page book was written by a freelance journalist and published in 2008 by the University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-1831-4. The publisher writes: "Some have called Sacred Harp singing America's earliest music. This powerful nondenominational religious singing, part of a deeply held Southern culture, has spread throughout the nation over the past two centuries. In A Sacred Feast, Kathryn Eastburn journeys into the community of Sacred Harp singers across the country and introduces readers to the curious glories of a tradition that is practiced today just as it was two hundred years ago. Each of the book's chapters visits a different region and features recipes from the accompanying culinary tradition - dinner on the ground[s], a hearty noontime feast. From oven-cooked pulled pork barbeque to Dollar Store cornbread dressing to red velvet cake, these recipes tell a story of nourishing the body, the soul, and the voice. The Sacred Harp's deeply moving sound and spirit resonate through these pages, captured at conventions in Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Colorado, and Washington, conveyed in portraits of singers, and celebrated in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of all-day singing and dinner on the ground echoing through generations and centuries." ISBN 978-0-8032-1831-4.

The Chattahoochee Musical Convention, 1852-2002: A Sacred Harp Historical Sourcebook, edited by Kiri Miller. Ms. Miller, an ethnomusicologist and Sacred Harp singer, has provided a sourcebook on the oldest still-convening Sacred Harp singing convention, the Chattahoochee of west Georgia. The core of the collection is Georgia singer Earl Thurman's previously unpublished monograph The Chattahoochee Musical Convention, 1852-1952, which provides a detailed history of the first hundred years of the convention. Miller provides an interesting introductory chapter, convention minutes, letters, photos, and newspaper clippings about the convention. Finally, there are contemporary interviews with singers Dan Brittain, Charlene Wallace, Amanda Denson, Lonnie Rogers, Karen Rollins, Hugh McGraw, Marcia Johnson, Dean Slaton, Felton and Josephine Denney, and D.J. Hatfield. There is an afterword chapter by Richard DeLong. The book should be of considerable interest to singers who have spent time in the world of traditional Sacred Harp singing in north Georgia and Alabama and who wish to gain a deeper insight into this world and the people who are part of the tradition. Project coordinator John Plunkett. Published by The Sacred Harp Museum, Carrollton, GA ISBN 1-887617-13-1. Paperback. One can order limited quantities for $15.00 plus basic shipping of $2 (no credit cards) from Mr. Plunkett in Georgia. Contact him at bildad12@hotmail.com for details. All proceeds go to the Chattahoochee Convention.

Approaching 150: A Brief History of the East Texas Musical Convention and Sacred Harp in East Texas by Robert L. Vaughn. The annual East Texas Sacred Harp Convention in Henderson, Texas, featuring singing from the Cooper Edition of The Sacred Harp, was founded in 1855 as the East Texas Musical Convention. It is the second oldest continuous Sacred Harp singing convention in the United States. Robert Vaughn, who is a Texan, fifth generation Sacred Harp singer, and member of the East Texas Convention, has written a history of this convention, relating its history, officers and important singers, locations, and traditions, as well as memories of living participants. Published in 2005 by Mr. Vaughn through Waymark Publications, Mt. Enterprise, TX. ISBN 1-59872-040-6. Softbound, 86 pages. Price $11.99 postpaid. Order from Mr. Vaughn at 3528 County Rd. 3168 West, Mt. Enterprise, TX 75681. For additional information, consult the Web site or e-mail Mr. Vaughn at rl_vaughn@yahoo.com.

Judge Jackson and The Colored Sacred Harp by Joe Dan Boyd with accompanying CD. According to the publisher, the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, this hardbound book tells the story of Judge Jackson of Ozark, Alabama, who in 1934 published The Colored Sacred Harp (see chapter 1), a small book of religious songs written by and for African-American shape-note singers. It continues with the formation and rise to prominence of the Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers, led by Dewey Williams and Japheth Jackson, son of Judge Jackson. The volume contains an introduction by historian John Bealle and fifty black and white photos. It is accompanied by a CD of songs from The Colored Sacred Harp and the Cooper Revision of The Sacred Harp. The recorded songs include one made by folklorist John Work in 1938, one made by Judge Jackson and family in 1950 at a coin-operated recording booth in Dothan, and 25 others made primarily by Joe Dan Boyd (1969) but including two from Doris Dyen's tapes (1972) made during her dissertation research. The book/CD costs $30.00 plus shipping and may be ordered online or by phone at 251-289-0757. A radio interview with Joe Dan Boyd concerning this book is available on the Web. See chapter 4.

The Sacred Harp Concordance, by Chris Thorman, updated in 2007. Originally published in book form in 1992, the Concordance of The Sacred Harp 1991 Edition has been updated in 2007 with many corrections and the inclusion of previously omitted entries. The Concordance is an alphabetical listing of words found in Sacred Harp song texts, and for each appearance of a given word, the entire phrase or clause, song title, and page number are given. The Concordance is available in both printed and online formats. The 230-page printed version can be ordered from lulu.com for the printing cost plus shipping (various options available). It can also be downloaded for free as a PDF or HTML file from links on the webpage.

Stormy Banks and Sweet Rivers: A Sacred Harp Geography by James B. Wallace of Emory University. This substantial article (2007) in the Southern Spaces online journal provides an excellent, well-written overview of Sacred Harp singing for those not familiar with the tradition. It explains how "Sacred Harp joins sacred sound with sacred space in a sociable event." The article touches on geography with respect not only to regions of the South where singing from different tunebooks can be found but also the spatial aspects of the small country churches and the hollow square of the singing class. The article includes photos, maps, and links to audio files of singing and commentary by members of the Wootten family of Sand Mountain, Alabamas. At the time of publication the author was a student at the Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University. (Note: This resource guide generally does not list articles, as there are so many.)

Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

Shape Note Bibliography, compiled by John Bealle. Extensively expanded in 1998, this is an impressive and useful, albeit now outdated, guide to books, journal articles and other materials on shape note singing through 1998, compiled by an historian/folklorist/sociologist who has sung Sacred Harp music for decades. The listings are classified under the following headings: bibliographic sources, concepts, culture groups, geographic regions, influences, musical forms, tunebook compilers, and tunebooks. Note: For recent articles on shape-note singing up through 2017, one should consult the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter, which ran from 2012 to 2017.

A Beginner's Guide to Shape-Note Singing: Hints, Stories, Advice, and Minutiae by Lisa Grayson, Fifth Edition. This excellent 18-page booklet, written by a notable and gifted alto in Chicago and updated by her periodically since 1994, is now available online as a free downloadable PDF. It can be copied onto letter-size paper to produce a nine-page double-sided booklet to be handed out at singing events, particularly to those who have more than casual interest. Interesting chapters include "Basics of Shape-Note Singing," "What's With Those Shapes?", "Anatomy of a Sacred Harp Tune," and "Do You Have a Vocal Identity Crisis?" There are chapters on song leading by Becky Browne of St. Louis, "Why fa-sol-la?" by Sam Hinton, and "The True Sacred Harp" by Clark Lee of Hoboken, Georgia. The last page has blank space for local organizers to add information on regional singings.

"First Time at a Sacred Harp singing?" is a two-page handout adapted by Lisa Grayson from her longer beginner's guide described immediately above. It is an ideal brief handout to orient newcomers at singings and conventions. Sections are entitled "Where should I sit?," "Shape notes," and "Seven frequently asked Sacred Harp questions."

A Lexical Companion to the Hymns of the Sacred Harp: A Guide to the Hymns of the 1991 Edition and the Cooper Book, by Lee Bradley. This book, published in 2005, contains explanations of over 325 words and phrases selected from hymns (lyrics) used in The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition and 2000 Cooper Revision. The selected words are those generally unfamiliar to modern readers and singers, e.g. "elysian," "refulgent," "fain", and "Ebenezer." The book contains an alphabetical glossary of selected words and phrases, followed by lists of hymns from the 1991 Edition and Cooper Revision in numerical order with definitions of difficult terms extracted from the glossary. This book has been highly acclaimed by several Sacred Harp singers, who found that it finally enabled them to "sing with understanding." ISBN 1-883640-19-9. The price is $15.00 per book including shipping and handling. Order through the Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation online store. Profits from the sale of this book go to the Foundation.

Sacred Harp: Four Shape Music Notation Primer for Young Children by John Bayer. Mr. Bayer, a Sacred Harp singer and prolific composer in Ohio, compiled this book out of a "desire that my children will learn to read, understand, and grow to love the music as much as I do." John Bealle writes: "The book is 82 pages, spiral bound (oblong) from letter sized photocopies. There are four sections: "Shape Names" (pages 1-36), "Notes and their Values" (37-38), "Rests and their Values" (59-75), and "Repeat Marks, Dots, Hold Signs, Modes, Scales, and Examples" (76-82). The focus is mostly on recognition of the different symbols, so there are shapes to color, pages of mixed shapes to count and fill in with different colors, shape cut-outs, and mazes where "fa" must find its way to "sol," "la," and "mi" The treatment of values follows along these same lines, with exercises like "Trace the Half Notes," "Circle the Quarter Notes" (from a mixture), and "Draw a line from the center note to other of the same value." All but the last section uses music staffs 1-1/2 inches high.... Age five or six seems about right for this book." This book may still be available. Order from Hans or Jubal Bayer, 9555 W. Third St., Dayton, Ohio 45427. The original price was $6.00 postpaid per copy.

A Shape-Note Singing Lesson, in Smithsonian in Your Classroom, by Stephen Binns, Leanne Wiberg, and Ella Wilcox, with photos and graphics by Miriam Kilmer. The 16-page October 2000 issue of this quarterly magazine, used in grades 3-8 of schools throughout the country, is an excellent presentation of historical, cultural, and musical aspects of shape-note singing traditions from New England to the South, with inspiring photographs of traditional singings (in the mid-Atlantic area and the South) and of children leading songs in the hollow square. A lesson plan for grades 3-8 is included to teach the four shapes used in Sacred Harp singing and to sing "Yankee Doodle" and "Chester" by Billings. Availability of printed copies is uncertain, but a PDF of the document is available free from the Smithsonian Education website (after opening this page, click on the Download link).

In the Spirit: Alabama's Sacred Music Traditions (Booklet and audio recording), edited by Henry Willett, director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture. This 127-page book, issued in 1995 and reissued in 2002, contains twelve interesting essays on a variety of little-known and well-known Alabama folk-religious music traditions, and is bundled with a CD (or cassette if requested) featuring examples of music described in the book. Of interest to shape-note singers are essays by Buell Cobb ("Sand Mountain's Wootten Family: Sacred Harp Singers"), Henry Willett ("Judge Jackson and the Colored Sacred Harp"), Anne H. F. Kimzey ("The Deasons: A Christian Harmony Family"), Joyce Cauthen ("Shape-Note Gospel Singing on Sand Mountain"), and Charles Wolfe ("Seven-shape-note Gospel Music in Northern Alabama.") The companion recording contains interesting examples not found elsewhere. Of particular note to shape-note singers are bands by the Wootten family (singing at home and recorded by Keith Willard), Judge Jackson leading black Sacred Harp (Cooper Revision) singers in 1938, and the Deason family. ISBN 1-881320-54-5. The price of the booklet plus CD (or cassette if requested) is $15.00 plus $2.50 shipping. (Make checks payable to Alabama Folklife Association. Order from Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, 410 North Hull St., Montgomery, AL 36104, phone 251-289-0757.

A Checklist of Four-Shape Shape-Note Tunebooks, by Richard J. Stanislaw. Institute for Studies in American Music Monograph No. 10. This 1978 booklet is a guide to the existence and location of every four-shape tunebook published in the U.S. from 1798 to 1860 and those published later that were directly connected with those published earlier. Information about the compiler, date of publication, full title, size, and location of each tunebook is given, as well as an indication of the nature of the tunes as "urban" or "rural." There is a list of books and doctoral dissertations pertaining to shape-note music. This 62-page booklet is of great value to the serious scholar of shape-note music, and is of interest to the devoted singer also. ISBN 0-914678-10-8. Photocopies are apparently still available $10.00 plus shipping. Published by the H. Wiley Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York 11210. More information is found on a Brooklyn College website where one can find this 1978 book on a list ordered according to the publication date (most recent first, so scroll down to 1978).

A Companion to The New Harp of Columbia by Marion J. Hatchett. Prof. Hatchett was Professor of Liturgics and Music and Benedict Professor of Pastoral Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN and a noted authority on shape-note singing in East Tennessee from the New Harp of Columbia. This work, published by the University of Tennessee Press was published in March, 2003. ISBN 1-57233-203-4. 476 pp. Clothbound.

The Harmonia Sacra Handbook, by James Nelson Gingerich and Matthew Lind. This excellent softbound booklet, published in June 1994 and updated in December 1994, lists the following information for every song in the 25th edition of the Harmonia Sacra, (compiled by James Nelson Gingerich, see Tunebook chapter): tune name, first line, meter, doremi (incipit or beginning notes of tune), alternate name, composer, date, earlier source of tune if any, text author, date, and source of text if known. The Harmonia Sacra itself has little if any information on composer and author attributions, so this handbook represents a welcome source of this information as well as a document of considerable scholarship. There are indices of authors, composers, and sources, tune names, and doremi (incipit). There are a table of additional verses for some songs, errata for the Harmonia Sacra, 25th edition, and a bibliography. Copies are available for $8.00 each, postpaid, from James Nelson Gingerich, 218 South 8th St. Goshen, IN 46528. The entire document is available also online.

Books and Music Collections by George Pullen Jackson

Sing to Me of Heaven. by Dorothy Horn. 1970. This 212-page book is a musicological analysis of music from three "old harp" books, The Sacred Harp, Southern Harmony, and The New Harp of Columbia. Professor Horn analyses modes, gapped scales, harmony, and origins of many Southern folk hymns. The book is now out of print at its publisher, University Press of Florida. Used copies are available on Amazon.com

Yankee Singing Schools and the Golden Age of Choral Music in New England, 1760-1800 by Alan Clark Buechner. This work is an important dissertation (Harvard Univ., 1960) which was published in 2004. Professor Buechner (d. 1998) examines the decline of Congregational music in early eighteenth-century New England, the establishment of regular singing in selected eastern Massachusetts and Connecticut Valley parishes, the rise of the singing school as an educational institution in the region, and the golden age of choral music. 158 pp. 50 illustrations and music examples, three appendixes, tables, bibliography, and index.

Music and Musicians in Early America, by Irving Lowens. This 328-page book published in 1964 by a foremost historian of early American music, is now out of print, according to its publisher, W.W. Norton (New York). One may find used copies available on Amazon.com.

American Fuging Tunes, 1770-1820: A Descriptive Catalog, by Karl Kroeger. Music Reference Collection Series, no. 41, published in November, 1993. Karen Willard writes: "Kroeger lists almost 1300 tunes, listed alphabetically by tune name, and each entry does include the numeric incipit. There are also biographical sketches of composers and a first line index of the texts." (Music Reference Collection Series, no. 41.) Published in November, 1993. ISBN 0-313-29000-8. Out of print.

Fuging Tunes in the Eighteenth Century, by Nicholas Temperley and Charles G. Manns (Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography, No. 49.) This 493-page book, published in 1983, consists of a brief musicological treatise on English and American fuging tunes published prior to 1800, a list of pre-1800 tunebooks containing fuging tunes, and a extensive census of tunes organized mathematically according to the first line of melody. The book is of interest mainly to scholars since the music itself is generally not presented. ISBN 0-89990-017- 8. Now out of print, it was available for $35.00 postpaid (by check, no credit cards) from Harmonie Park Press, 23630 Pinewood, Warren, MI 48091.

American Sacred Music Imprints, 1698-1810: A Bibliography by A. Britton, I. Lowens, and R. Crawford. It was published in 1990 for the American Antiquarian Society. It is now available from Oak Knoll Press. ISBN 091229695X.

Divine Song on the Northeast Frontier: Maine's Sacred Tunebooks, 1800-1830 by Linda Gilbert Davenport. This 1996 monograph was originally Davenport's Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It is a study of 18 tunebooks, their compilers, and related musical, historical, and social aspects. It features extensive biographies of the prominent composer Supply Belcher (compiler of Harmony of Maine in 1794), Abraham Maxim, compiler of The Northern Harmony (1805-1819), and Japheth Coombs Washburn, compiler of The Temple Harmony in 1818-1827. Eleven tunes are presented in modern notation. There is an annotated index to the Belcher, Hartwell, Maxim, Robbins, and Washburn tunes printed in Maine collections and a list of locations for extant Maine tunebooks. 440 pp. Cloth binding. ISBN 0-8108-3025-6. It was pubished by Scarecrow Press but seems to be out of print.

William Billings of Boston: Eighteenth Century Composer, by David McKay and Richard Crawford. This 1975 clothbound monograph (ISBN 0691-091188) was available for $50.00 (plus shipping) from the Princeton University Press, but it is out of print. Used copies are available on Amazon.com.

Catalog of the Musical Works of William Billings, compiled by Karl Kroeger. (Musical Reference Collection, no. 32). 1991. 184 pp. ISBN 0-313-27827-x. Available for $59.95 plus shipping from the publisher, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, telephone 800-225-5800. Availability is uncertain because Greenwood Press apparently was taken over by ABC-CLIO and this book is no longer found on its website.

Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song by Steve Turner. This 306-page book published in 2002 describes the life of John Newton, author of the text, the shape-note origins of the tune New Britain commonly used to sing Amazing Grace, the song's popularity in gospel music, and its adoption by folk singers in the latter half of the 20th century. Turner is a British biographer. His exposition of the origin of the tune appears to be detailed and well researched, as he cites the research of relevant academic scholars. Published by Harper Collins, Hardcover: ISBN 0-06-000218-2, list price $23.95. A paperback (publisher, Ecco) has an ISBN 0-06-000219-0 and list price $11.95. However, the book is no longer listed on the Harper Collins website and is apparently out of print. It should be available from online used book sellers, some of whom are listed on Amazon.com.

Tracing the Roots of Southern Gospel Singers, by B. F. McLemore. This spiralbound 45-page book published in 1988 is very readable and interesting chronology of, in the words of the author, "where Southern gospel music came from, from Pythagoras and Guido's scales, then the English, the New Englanders, where our shaped notes came from, a little about the 4-note system, continuing to the Ruebush-Kieffer Co. in the Shenandoah Valley, and on up to modern times, i.e., A.J. Showalter, V.O. Stamps, James D. Vaughan, etc." The author is a singer of Sacred Harp and gospel music in Texas and draws on his own experience and research. He sells it at cost, which in early 2000 was $5.00 per book plus $1.00 for mailing. Write to Mr. McLemore at Rt. 4, Box 424, Jasper, TX 75951 (e-mail bobmc@jas.net).

Foxfire 7 - Chapter on Christian Harmony Singing, by Edith Card. Charles Whitmer writes: The highly respected Foxfire series of about a dozen or so books covers many aspects of southern mountain living in rural Appalachia. Foxfire 7 , a 510-page paperback edited by Paul F. Gillespie and his students and published in 1982, deals with the traditions of mountain religious heritage and includes an 18-page chapter on the Christian Harmony singing tradition of north Georgia and western North Carolina, where the 1873 tunebook is used. ISBN 0385152442. Published by Anchor. Some online book stores, such as Amazon.com, offer it for sale.

The African-American Shape Note and Vocal Music Singing Convention Directory, by the Mississippi Folklore Society and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi (published in 1994). Prof. D. Warren Steel of the University reports:

"The Directory is the work of Chiquita G. Willis, coordinator of the African American Shape Note Music Project. [The Directory] consists of an introduction, a listing of convention dates and locations, a list of songbooks used in the singings, and a list of archival materials and donors. The booklet is illustrated with excellent black and white photographs. The conventions include five devoted primarily to singing from The Sacred Harp and nineteen which sing mainly from "seven-note yearbooks" (shapenote songbooks from gospel music publishers). They cover mainly north and central Mississippi and adjoining parts of Alabama...The editors plan to update the Directory every two years."

Limited numbers of a cassette tape of singing from the 1993 West Harmony Singing Convention in Mississippi have been available. Check on the availability of these items by contacting the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi, Barnard Observatory, University, MS 38677, phone 662-915-5993.

Out-of-print reprints of books on early American music from Da Capo Press. In the 1970s and 80s, Da Capo Press of New York City published hardcover reprints of a number of books, listed below and in chapter 1 related to early American music. However, all of these are out of print. To find these books, one can check large libraries and used bookseller networks, such as that accessed through Amazon.com, as well as Google Books.

Monographs on American Music with Chapters on Shape-Note Hymnody

Rethinking American Music, edited by Tara Browner and Thomas L. Riis. This eclectic collection of essays is a Festschrift in honor of Prof. Richard Crawford (U. Michigan), a foremost scholar of American music, including but not limited to early American psalmody, and mentor to all of the chapter authors. Two chapters are of probable interest to shape-note singers: "Secular Music in Shape-Notes" by David Warren Steel, and "'We're Marching to Zion': Isaac Watts in America" by Esther R. Crookshank. Published in 2019 by the University of Illinois Press. Available in clothbound, paperbound, and e-book versions; consult the publisher's website or Amazon.com for pricing and ISBNs.

Sacred Song in America: Religion, Music, and Public Culture by Stephen A. Marini. From the publisher's description: "Marini examines the role of sacred song across the United States, from the musical traditions of Native Americans and the Hispanic peoples of the Southwest, to the Sacred Harp singers of the rural South and the Jewish music revival to the music of the Mormon, Catholic, and Black churches. Including chapters on New Age and Neo-Pagan music, gospel music, and hymnals as well as interviews with iconic composers of religious music, Sacred Song in America pursues a historical, musicological, and theoretical inquiry into the complex roles of ritual music in the public religious culture of contemporary America." Prof. Marini of Wellesley College is general editor of the tunebook The Norumbega Harmony (see chapter 1). The book has been well received, as it describes the importance of shape-note hymnody/psalmody in the development of American sacred song. 395 pages. Published by University of Illinois Press in 2003. The clothbound version (ISBN 025202807)is $34.95, while the paperbound(0252078033) is $30.00.

America's Musical Life: A History by Richard Crawford. This large, ambitious and comprehensive history of American music by one of the foremost academic authorities in the field was published in 2001. There are 40 chapters covering the full range of American music, including colonial and shape-note psalmody and hymnody. 992 pages. Now apparently available only in paperback (ISBN 978-039332726-7). Published by W.W. Norton and Co.

America's Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present, by Gilbert Chase. This 712-page book, the revised third edition of which was published in 1987, is a good general survey of most (North) American music. For readers interested in early American music, the first half includes interesting, albeit brief, chapters on music in the colonies, New England psalmody, shape-note music, and revival hymns and spiritual songs, along with other chapters describing concurrent musical developments. Each chapter has a few references. The book received the 1989 Special Commendation from the Sonneck Society for American Music. Formerly available in a cloth edition and now available in paperback. Published by the University of Illinois Press (Urbana and Chicago), ISBN 0-252-06275-2. Approximate retail price $32. Most but not all chapters are available on Google Books.

Monographs on Christian Hymnody

A Survey of Christian Hymnody, Fifth Edition by David W. Music and Milburn Price. This is the most recent edition (2011) of a text originally by William J. Reynolds and Milburn Price published in 1987. It is a concise synopsis of Christian hymnody through the ages and is an excellent source of information for the novice hymn-lover. The older edition had chapters dealing with early church song, the Lutheran Chorale, psalmody, English hymnody, and American hymnody (including early American singing schools, camp-meeting songs, folk hymnody, shaped notation, Gospel hymnody, and twentieth-century developments). Prof. Music is a supporter of the Sacred Harp tradition. Order from the publisher, Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL.

William J. Reynolds, Church Musician by David W. Music. A biography of Prof. Reynolds, said to be the most significant Baptist church musician of the latter half of the twentieth century as well as a Sacred Harp enthusiast, was written by his former colleague Prof. David W. Music of Baylor University. Published by Smyth and Helwys, ISBN: 978-1-57312-690-8.

A Portion for the Singers: A History of Music among Primitive Baptists since 1800, by R. Paul Drummond. This 486-page illustrated work (1988) is a scholarly account of the history of Primitive Baptist music since 1800. Much of it deals with singing-school music found in The Sacred Harp and other shape-note tunebooks, because this denomination has cherished the folk hymns of the early American tunebooks long after most other denominations rejected them. This book is derived from the doctoral dissertation of the author, who was a long-time professor of choral music at Central Methodist University. $25.00 plus $2.50 for postage. Order from the Christian Baptist Library and Publishing Co., Atwood TN 38220. It may be out of print.

The Sound Of The Dove - Singing In Appalachian Primitive Baptist Churches by Beverly Bush Patterson. This is a 248 page-book with associated hour-long cassette tape of field-recorded music. Chapters deal with the current religious and singing practices of Primitive Baptist congregations of the central Blue Ridge. Paul Drummond writes: "[The book] provides an excellent and detailed examination of singing that represents one of the oldest congregational traditions of religious worship...[and] contains extensive transcriptions of both individual and congregational performances of hymns that convincingly portray the singing style, especially when supplemented with the recordings on the accompanying audiocassette....an excellent ethnomusicological study." ISBN for hardbound is 0-252-02123-1 and for paperbound is 0-252-07003-8. It is available from the University of Illinois Press, 1325 South Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Check the website for prices. (See also a description of the audiocassette in the chapter Lined-Out Hymnody and Psalmody.)

Singing Baptists: Studies in Baptist Hymnody in America, by Harry Eskew, David W. Music, and Paul A. Richardson. 1994. This 223-page book is a collection of fifteen essays by foremost Baptist hymnologists who are also authorities on early American shape-note hymnody. Thus, this book has considerable material on shape-note hymnody. Part 1 deals with early New England psalmody. Part 2 deals with five Baptist pastors of the 19th-century South. Part 3 deals with Southern shape-note singing-school tunebooks,. Part 4 treats the various Southern Baptist hymnals from 1845 to the present. ISBN 0-8054-9824-9. Out of print.

Sing With Understanding, by Harry Eskew and Hugh McElrath, 2nd edition, 1995. According to the Hymn Society Book Service, this textbook is a comprehensive and general study of hymns, covering historical, musical, theological, and practical aspects of hymnody. Shape-note hymns are treated throughout the book, but particularly in a chapter called "The American Tradition." The 2nd edition is published by the Music Department, Church Leadership Services Division, The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is available from GIA Publications, Inc..

Baptist Offspring, Southern Midwife: Jesse Mercer's Cluster of Spiritual Songs (1810): A Study in American Hymnody by Kay Norton (Detroit Monographs in Musicology, no. 34). The publisher wrote: "In addition to unraveling the musical implications of an early-nineteenth century hymnal, this book addresses an area of American musical history that has not received its due attention: pre-shape-note, Southern sacred music. Mercer managed to found several Baptist churches, supervised educational mission schools for the Creek and Cherokee Indians, championed the cause of higher education, developed and refined an influential hymn repertory, a project that spanned nearly half of his 53 year ministry." Hardcover, 202 pages. Published in 2001 by Harmonie Park Press. ISBN 08-99901093.

With Ever Joyful Hearts: Essays on Liturgy and Music: Honoring Marion J. Hatchett, edited by J. Neil Alexander. This Festschrift volume published in 1999 honors Marion J. Hatchett, Professor of Liturgics and Music and Benedict Professor of Pastoral Theology at University of the South (Sewanee) in Sewanee, Tennessee. Prof. Hatchett was on the committee that compiled the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 and was responsible in part for its inclusion of numerous early American shape-note tunes. He is also an authority on shape-note singing in East Tennessee from the New Harp of Columbia. In the Festschrift volume, there is one article directly about shape-note hymnody, by Prof. Harry Eskew, "Returning to Our Musical Roots: The Use of Early Shape-Note Tunes in Recent American Hymnals." ISBN 0898693217. Published by Church Publishing, Inc.

Hymns and Tunes: An Index, by Katharine S. Diehl. Published in 1979. Hardbound. 1242 pages. The contents of 78 official hymnals of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish religious institutions in the United Kingdom and North America are classified in this comprehensive work. Using the five indexes--first lines and variants; authors and first lines; tune names and variants; composers and tune names; and melodies--the layman or professional can quickly and easily find answers to questions regarding hymnology. Karen Willard writes: "Katharine Diehl used the tune incipit scheme (with Doremi syllables) to index the tunes. She indexed the major American church hymnals of this century for first line, authors, composers, tune names, and tune incipits." Published in 1979 by Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810800624.

Encyclopedia Articles (including online encyclopedias)

Encyclopedia Britannica article on Shape-Note Singing by David Warren Steel. This article was added to the online encyclopedia in May 2010.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which has articles that anyone can create and edit, has an increasing number of articles on aspects of Sacred Harp and shape-note singing. These articles have been undergoing continual revision, expansion, and improvement by several knowledgeable Sacred Harp singers, starting with Robert Vaughn. Because of the free-for-all nature of the editing process, articles in this encyclopedia may not be initially accurate but hopefully will improve with time. A few of the many relevant articles are as follows:

The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989) edited by C. R. Wilson and W. Ferris. The original one-volume edition is an excellent and readable 1656-page tome written by 800 scholars and writers. It has excellent concise articles entitled "Sacred Harp" by Harry Eskew, "All-Day Singings" by Bill C. Malone, and "Revival Songs and Shape Note Singing Schools" by D. Warren Steel. Published by the University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1989. ISBN 978-0-8078-1823-7. It is still available at the publisher and at Amazon.com. This edition is superseded by the much more extensive (24 volumes) New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.. For example, Volume 1: Religion edited by Samuel S. Hill (2006) and Volume 12: Music, edited by Bill Malone (2009) have chapters on at least some of the topics listed above.

Grove Music Online successor to the multivolume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. According to the search engine, this vast resource has at least two articles on shape-note hymnody and Sacred Harp singing. The older one (2001) by Harry Eskew and James C. Downey (which was in the printed dictionary) is an excellent historical account providing a broad and detailed account of all shape-note singing traditions in the U.S., including seven-shape-note gospel hymnody. The more recent article (2013) is by foremost authority David Warren Steel. Grove Music Online has many other articles about shape-note music composers and tunebook compilers. However, a subscription (institutional or personal) is required to access the articles.

The Grove Dictionary of American Music, edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett, 2nd edition, 2013. This 5592-page eight-volume work contains many articles on shape-note music and relevant composers. A key article entitled "Shaped-Note Hymnody" was written by David Warren Steel. Published by Oxford University Press. ISBN 019531428X. The material in these volumes is being placed online at Oxford Music Online/Grove Music Online. Libraries may prefer to buy a subscription to the online content rather than buying the print editions of the various Grove dictionaries of music.

The New Georgia Encyclopedia, a large online work in progress, has an extensive article entitled "The Sacred Harp" written by Malinda Snow of the Georgia State University. Accompanying the text are photographs of a traditional Georgia singing and links to three video clips of Hugh McGraw teaching about Sacred Harp singing. NGE is a project of the Georgia Humanities Council in partnership with the Office of the Governor, the University of Georgia Press, and the University System of Georgia/GALILEO.

The online Encylopedia of Alabama has short articles on the Denson Edition of The Sacred Harp (which errs in calling the 1991 Edition the Denson Edition when it is actually the successor to the Denson Edition), Denson brothers, the National Sacred Harp Convention, and Traditional Music (including Sacred Harp).

The online Mississippi Encyclopedia, published in 2017, has a brief article entitled "Shape-Note Singing" by David Warren Steel. A much expanded version of this article was published in the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter.

The Handbook of Texas Online has an article entitled "Sacred Harp Music" written by Francis E. Abernethy. The article features Sacred Harp singing in Texas.

Steven L. Sabol (sabol@his.com)
HTML version by Warren Steel (mudws@olemiss.edu)