The village of Taylor, known for its combination of the traditional life with modern and original arts, hosted its thirty-second annual all-day Sacred Harp singing on Saturday, October 12 at the United Methodist Church. Singing commenced at 10:00, followed by potluck dinner and more singing until 2:30 PM. Warren Steel of Oxford was in charge. The Reverend Eddie Willis and the congregation invited 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 In many places, traditional singings have been replaced by gospel concerts, but Sacred Harp singings still preserve the music, style and customs of the days before the War Between the States, in which everyone sings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 web site 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 662 236-5356.5B
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 thirty-second 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 songs on page 47t. Drew McGuire led the morning prayer. Leaders: Warren Steel 65, 36b; Drew McGuire 138t, 315, 546; Kim Funderburk 47b, 345t, 45t; Will Gatewood 178, 68b; 39t; Anne Steel 235, 179, 171; Rebecca Over (UK) 395, 30t, 306; Jeff Corbett (AR) 81t, 107, 326.
Warren Steel reassembled the class leading 89. Other leaders: Mary Amelia Taylor (AL) 144, 284, 546; Henry McGuire 38t, 101b, 220; Arlon Gardner 505, 313b, 28b. The memorial lesson was held in honor of George Corbett, Robin Mathis and Mary Chrestman; Warren Steel led "Hurricane Creek" and 129. Arlon Gardiner offered the memorial prayer.
Warren Steel called the class together leading song on page 280. Leaders: Logan Green (TN) 230, 224, 425; Jason Smith (AL) 277, 445, 282; Chuck Howell 569b, 373, 127; Amile Wilson 163b; Carol Davis (TN) 340, 452, 380; Beth and Allison Estes 128; Drew McGuire 349; Kim Funderburk 63; Will Gatewood 324; Anne Steel 268; Rebecca Over 74t; Jeff Corbett 236; Mary Amelia Taylor 473; Henry McGuire 157; Arlon Gardner 163t; Logan Green 186; Chuck Howell 225t. Following announcements of future singings Warren Steel led the closing song on page 345b and the class was dismissed with prayer by Mary Amelia Taylor.
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