The village of Taylor, known for its combination of the traditional life with modern and original arts, hosted its thirty-first annual all-day Sacred Harp singing on Saturday, October 13 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 In many places, traditional singings have been replaced by gospel quartet concerts, but Sacred Harp singings still preserve the music, style and customs of the days before the War Between the States, in which everyone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 thirty-first 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 61 and 53. Robert Vaughn led the morning prayer. Leaders: Warren Steel 171; Andy Davis 106, 73t; 198; Jamira Jackson 455, 282, 168; Robert Vaughn 142, 317, 445; Arlon Gardner 30t, 313b, 448t.
Warren Steel reassembled the class leading 384. Other leaders: Erin Fulton 52t, 52b, 85; Anne Steel 318, 480, 203; Jan Murray 457, 285t, 31b; Alicia Canterbury 128, 159, 39b; Regina Derstine 276, 436, 410t.
Warren Steel called the class together leading song on page 280. He then led “Hurricane Creek” in memory of T. J. Funderburk, Darrell Swarens, Elizabeth Rechenberg and Logan A. Green. Leaders: Ann Ray and Lyn Joyner 110, 118, 196; Dan and Marianne Miller 117, 63, 148; Andy Davis 297, 299; Jamira Jackson 542, 236; Robert Vaughn 569b (in memory of T. J. Funderburk), 40 (for Alice McGuire); Arlon and Peth Gardner 42, 277; Erin Fulton 80t, 334; Anne Steel 66, 67; Jan Murray 268, 270; Regina Derstine 208, 209. Following announcements of future singings Warren Steel led the closing song on page 76b and the class was dismissed with prayer by Arlon Gardiner.
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