The Thirty-Sixth Annual

Sacred Harp Singing

Taylor, Mississippi


Saturday, October 7, 2023

Taylor United Methodist Church
Taylor, Lafayette County, Mississippi
10:00 AM to 2:30 PM

The village of Taylor, known for its combination of the traditional life with modern and original arts, will host its thirty-fifth annual all-day Sacred Harp singing on Saturday, October 7 at the United Methodist Church. Singing commences 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 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 In many places, traditional singings have been replaced by gospel concerts, but Sacred Harp singings still preserve the music, style and customs of the days before the War Between the States, in which everyone sings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 Steel at 662 801-3707.


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.

Minutes of the 2022 Singing

After a two-year hiatus, the 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 39b. Matt Bell led the morning prayer. Warren Steel led 39t, and called the following leaders: Jeff Corbett 48t, 99; Matt Bell 48b, 109; Anne Steel 129, 318; Kim Funderburk 65, 457; Arlon Gardner 505, 454; Kevin Barley 145t, 335; Jan Murray 285t, 282; Lily Gray 45t, 162.


Warren Steel reassembled the class leading 141. Other leaders: Connor Foley 341, 503; Chuck Howell 569b, 163b; Priscilla Bell 135, 196; Mary Kate Tinsley 319, 146; Regina Derstine 276, 300; Warren Steel 280.

Dismissed for lunch.

Warren Steel called the class together leading song on page 400. A memorial lesson was held to recognize singers deceased since the 2019 singing. 2020: Roy Davis, Ann K. Ray, Velton Chafin; 2021: Rebecca Over, Linda Funderburk, Sudye Cauthen, Gordon Cotton; 2022: Ted Mercer. Kim Funderburk and Warren Steel led 119. End of memorial lesson. Singing continued with Priscilla Bell 157, 131t; Matt Bell 181, 200; Anne Steel 348b, 131b; Arlon and Peth Gardner 277, 278t; Jeff Corbett 326, 344; Regina Derstine 30b, 108b; Kevin Barley 142, 105; Lily Green 30t, 65; Connor Foley 345b, 351. Warren Steel led the closing song on 235, and Kevin Barley dismissed the class with prayer.

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