Sacred Harp Singing

Poplar Springs, Calhoun Co. [Miss.]

It was the first Sunday in May 1866, just 37 years ago if we mistake not; that W. A. Beasley of Houston, and H J. Hawkins of Ellzey, met at Poplar Springs church with a few war worn rebs, their noble wives and the children of this neighborhood and engaged in a song service, using the old sacred harp as a text.

That day in the old, old church with its huge chimney facing to the east and sheltered by the great oaks south, was a delightful day to the unassuming good people there assembled and in mingling their voices together in song, the old veterans seemed to forget for the time being, their dilapidated farms, as well as the hardships and dangers through which they had just passed, and the kind old matrons, thankful that their husbands and sons were once again permitted to be with them on the old hill, seemed to pour forth their joy and gratitude in songs of praise.

True, those people were not dressed in the styles of today, for that was the transition date when Mississippi was changing attire from the gray jacket and Home spun dress to the more gaudy apparel now worn, but the independent and progressive spirit of today, was discernible then, when these old pioneer leaders of vocal music called their class together and laid the foundation of these annual signings that have continued to this good day, gathering momentum as time rolls on.

This writer has been present at many of these singings at Poplar Springs on the first Sunday in May and in his scattering way, has attempted time and again to write them up, to tell of the crowds that attend, the pleasures seen there and the good dinners always provided. As Mr. J. J. Burt expressed it last Sunday; There is always a good dinner here, prepared by good women. Last Sunday was no exception to the rule. The crowd was variously estimated at from two to three thousand and there was plenty of dinner for all, possibly some one failed to get dinner, but twas his own fault, if he did. It was there, in pans, buckets and boxes. The report that these people were short on grub at any gathering here, has never reached our ears.

There is little conventionalities to be observed on any of these occasions and last Sunday all seemed to enjoy themselves to the fullest extent each in his own way. Ye senior took his in chatting the friend of Auld Lang Syne, but there were some he failed to meet in that great crowd. The house was not large enough to accommodate all, but it was an ideal day and there was plenty of room outdoors.

So another singing at old Poplar Springs has come and gone. The good work began by these beloved and time honored citizens, has spread to other churches and places. Another generation has caught the refrain which must travel down the line to remote generations perhaps though the noble instigators lend their active aid no more, but they have done enough. They have made the heart glad, where sorrow appeared enthroned. They have shaped a custom that is here to stay despite the hard kicks it may receive. The old gray heads like them; the courting people like them, and they are the candidates Haven. The music in his heart he bore; Long after it was heard no more.

Calhoun (Mississippi) Monitor-Herald, May 7 1903

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