The village of Taylor, known for its combination of the traditional life with modern and original arts, hosted its thirtieth annual all-day Sacred Harp singing on Saturday, October 7 at the United Methodist Church. Taylor United Methodist Church, with its resonant wooden floor and beaded wood walls, is an ideal location to hear this thrilling harmony, which is not accompanied by harps or any other instruments.
A Sacred Harp singing is a non-denominational community musical event. Named for The Sacred Harp, a songbook first printed in 1844, Sacred Harp singings are often associated with church homecomings and memorials. In Lafayette County, Sacred Harp singing dates to the 1870s, when several area churches instituted annual singings that were among the best-attended events in their communities. In many places, traditional singings have been replaced by gospel quartet concerts, but Sacred Harp singings still preserve the music, style and customs of the days before the War Between the States, in which everyone sings and everyone is invited to lead his or her favorite selections. The songbook includes pieces by the first American composers along with many southern folk hymns and camp-meeting songs. Sacred Harp singing is featured in the documentary film Awake, My Soul, as well as in the Miramax film Cold Mountain.
Today Sacred Harp singing is experiencing a massive revival: singings and conventions have sprung up all across the United States, as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Larger singings attract hundreds of singers and listeners, who learn about the music from the Internet or by word of mouth: Warren Steel maintains a Sacred Harp home page at Ole Miss.
This singing was formerly held at Pilgrim's Rest Primitive Baptist Church. Members of that congregation, and residents of Taylor, Sand Hill, Springdale and Pine Flat, are particularly invited to attend, as are visitors from the Oxford-University community. Local residents are asked to bring a dish to share for dinner. For more information, call Warren and Anne Steel at 662 236-5356.
From Oxford, take Old Taylor Road (Old Taylor Road exit from hwy 6/US278) to the south 7.5 miles to the village of Taylor; church is on your right. From points north or south, take hwy 7 south of Oxford. Turn west on hwy 328 to Taylor, then bear right on the Cutoff Road (CR 335) into Taylor.
The thirtieth annual Sacred Harp singing at Taylor United Methodist Church (formerly held at Pilgrim's Rest Primitive Baptist Church) was called to order by Warren Steel leading song on page 313t and 203. Jerry Henson led the morning prayer. Leaders: Warren Steel 144; Nathan Stewart 220, 546, 112; Anne Steel 268, 171, 39t; Scotty Polston 129, 128, 162; Jeff Corbett 326, 143, 31t; Bobby Neyman 40, 479, 347.
Warren Steel reassembled the class leading 142. Other leaders: Vicki Neyman 282, 146, 178; Amber Davis 179, 208, 436; Henry McGuire 426t, 60, 110; Lorraine Cotton 45t; Chris Cotton 457; Katy Cotton 59; Warren Steel (for Lee Uhlhorn) 36b.
Nathan Stewart called the class together leading song on page 327 and 138t. Leaders: Warren Steel 141, 280; Henry McGuire 382, 138b, 475. A memorial lesson was held for the deceased: Willadean Brunette, Stites Gardner, Billie Margaret Gardner, Gravis Ballinger, Johnnie Chafin, Yaeko Takada and Anne Percy. Amber Davis led 348b and Warren Steel led 285t. End of memorial lesson. Other leaders: Amber Davis 391, 192, 66; Kim Funderburk 119, 63 (for T. J. Funderburk); Vicki Neyman 163b, 504; Bobby Neyman 276, 117; Jeff Corbett 106, 99; Scotty Polston 535, 335; Nathan Stewart 222, 217, 532; Lee Uhlhorn 74b, 75; Anne Steel 472, 318. Following announcements of future singings Warren Steel led the closing song on page 288 and the class was dismissed with prayer by Rex Brunt.
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