The village of Taylor, known for its combination of the traditional life with modern and original arts, will host its twenty-ninth annual all-day Sacred Harp singing on Saturday, October 8 at the United Methodist Church. Singing will commence at 10:00, followed by potluck dinner and more singing until 2:30 PM. Warren Steel of Oxford will be in charge. The Reverend Eddie Willis and the congregation invite the public to attend and participate. 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 In many places, traditional singings have been replaced by gospel quartet concerts, but Sacred Harp singings still preserve the music, style and customs of the days before the War Between the States, in which everyone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. Note for detour in 2016: From points south, take hwy 7 through Water Valley. Turn left on CR 315 (at the Shell station). After crossing the Yocona River take a right on hwy 328. After about 5 miles turn left on CR 733; this is the main street of Taylor; look for the church on your left.
The twenty-eighth 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 129 and 274t. Matt Bell led the morning prayer. Leaders: John Van Horn 73t,72b, 63; Nathan Stewart 341, 493, 329; Vicky Neyman 282, 457, 178; Billy and Vickie See 30b, 108b, 288; Milano Neyman 398, 117; Anne Steel 67, 348b, 480.
Warren Steel reassembled the class leading "Hurricane Creek" from The Trumpet. Other leaders: Bobby Neyman 503, 309, 479; Jan Murray 31t, 31b, 285t; Andy Davis 47b, 400, 222; Matt Bell 160b, 271t, 495. A memorial lesson was held. Warren Steel led 421 in memory of the deceased: George Easley, Jerry Tidwell, Dixie Davis, Jimmie Ruth Melvin, Henry Pace, and Bill Day; he then led 65 in honor of the sick and shut-in: Kenneth Stead, Roy Davis and Jack Barbera. End of memorial lesson. John Van Horn led 29b and 106.
Warren Steel called the class together leading song on page 36b. Leaders: Nathan Stewart 410t, 382; Vicky Neyman 268, 229; Billy and Vickie See 146, 163b, 339; Milano Neyman 404, 409, 414; Anne Steel 419, 270, 179; Bobby Neyman 59, 105; Jan Murray 68b, 447; Abby Huggins 378b, 378t, 82t; Andy Davis 196, 434, 460; Matt Bell 275t, 80t; Warren Steel 440, 338. Following announcements of future singings Warren Steel led the closing song on page 313t (in memory of George Easley), and the class was dismissed with prayer by John Van Horn.
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