8. Recordings with a Few Shape-Note Songs or Arrangements

A few worthy selections from a vast field. Advisory: The arrangements generally do not represent the music as found in shape-note tunebooks or the shape-note singing traditions.


"Help Me to Sing: Songs of the Sacred Harp" by various artists, produced by Matt Hinton. This novel recording package contains (on Disk 2) 20 innovative arrangements of tunes found (with harmonization) in The Sacred Harp and in other early American tunebooks. The arrangements, most of which were commissioned for this recording, are in various popular folk and rock styles created and performed by the following well-known professional artists: Rayna Gellert & John Paul Jones, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, The Good Players, The Innocence Mission, Jim Lauderdale with Jeni & Billy, Mac Powell, John Wesley Harding, Cordelia's Dad, Liz Janes, All Things Bright & Beautiful, Tenement Halls, Richard Buckner, Danielson, Doc Watson & Gaither Carlton, Sam Amidon, Woven Hand, Rick Moody & Nina Katchadourian, Tim Eriksen, DM Stith, and Murry Hammond. The recording is Disc 2 of a two-CD set featuring "Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, The Original Soundtrack". The song texts have not been altered. The goal of this two-CD set is to arouse interest in Sacred Harp singing among people who are initially drawn to some of the arrangements on Disc 2 and are then directed (by the liner notes) to the higher-priority Disk 1 with authentic Southern Sacred Harp singing. Some of the arrangements may shock Sacred Harp purists, but each one should be appealing and interesting, if not "gripping, to at least some listeners, The set is accompanied by a very attractive 36-page brochure containing liner notes for each song written by the respective performers, interesting historic photographs of singings, song attributions and texts, and a few scores. The Web site has several short audio samples from both recordings. Order from the Awake, My Soul official online store. (Click on the Store button and hope that it works.

"The Rose of Sharon: 100 Years of American Music" performed by Ensemble Phoenix Munich directed by Joel Fredricksen. This 2011 Harmonia Mundi CD (HMC902085) contains a sampling (30 tracks) of various genres of American music (Revolutionary War period, Billings, shape-note singing schools, Shaker spirituals, Civil War music, and revival spirituals) performed by an early music ensemble now based in Germany. There are approximately eight songs or arrangements of songs found in shape-note tunebooks and/or composed by Billings. As evidenced from the audio samples on Amazon.com and HarmoniaMundi.com, the sound and performance style strongly resemble those of older recordings of the Waverly Consort and Boston Camerata, ensembles of which Mr. Fredericksen was a member in the 1990s. A sampling of various genres of music means that the recording does not adequately convey the mood or depth of any single genre. While this CD has been critically highly acclaimed, shape-note singers would find it appealing only if they also love the style of early European music ensembles.

"That Eternal Day" performed by Cantus. Cantus, a nine-member all-male a-cappella professional ensemble from Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, issued in 2011 a CD with 18 tracks of generally 19th-century American music of various genres (Cantus Recordings CTS-1210). At least four shape-note tunes (Wondrous Love, Jewett, North Port/Paradise, and Hallelujah) and one Billings anthem are included, sung in a straightforward manner that should satisfy shape-note singers. However, overall the tracklist seems to be an incoherent and lightweight hodgepodge of different choral genres. Audio samples may be heard on Amazon.com.

"Come to the River: An Early American Gathering" performed by Apollo's Fire directed by Jeanette Sorrell. Apollo's Fire, which is usually a highly acclaimed baroque orchestra based in Cleveland, OH, issued in 2011 this crossover album (AVIE Records AV2205) of 19th-century American music of various genres. The 19 tracks include four arrangements of shape-note songs (Wayfaring Stranger, Return Again, Wondrous Love (with harpsichord!), and Morning Trumpet (words preceded by shape solmization) -- all interesting and beautiful arrangements mixed in with fiddle tunes, barn dances, etc. Although this recording, like "That Eternal Day" described above, is an incoherent and lightweight hodgepodge of different musical genres, it is energetic, less restrained than usual, and enjoyable to listen to. Non-identical audio samples can be found on Amazon.com and the ensemble's own website.

"And Glory Shone Around: Early American Carols" performed by The Rose Ensemble directed by Jordan Sramek. This 2008 CD by an early music ensemble based in St. Paul, MN contains 24 tracks of various genres of early American Christmas music. Approximately seven pieces are from the shape-note tradition, and two tracks are by William Billings. Audio clips may be downloaded from a Rose Ensemble web page as well as from Amazon.com.

"Saints Bound for Heaven" sung by Ephraim's Harp directed by Lisa DeSpain. This 2005 CD recording features 17 songs from the Sacred Harp performed by a professional ensemble of young musicians (approximately 19 singers and 4 instrumentalists) based in New York City. Many or most of the songs are artful and appealing arrangements of tunebook harmonizations designed for the enjoyment of listeners and are sung with varied instrumental accompaniment (two fiddles, cello, and guitar). The playlist and several audio clips are available on a page on the Web site. Ephraims' Harp is a non-profit ensemble dedicated to the preservation and performance of early American music. The Web notes accurate describe the Sacred Harp tradition, but the group takes a different approach typical of performing ensembles. The recording can be ordered online from the Ephraim's Harp Web site or the Brigham Young University bookstore.

"Cold Mountain: Music from the Miramax Motion Picture." The highly acclaimed 2003 motion picture "Cold Mountain", adapted from a book by the same name, is set during the Civil War in the South and includes the singing of two Sacred Harp songs by traditional Alabama singers at the Liberty Baptist Church on Sand Mountain in Henagar, Alabama. The songs are "I'm Going Home" and "Idumea" (the latter music accompanying a bloody battle scene). This is probably the first time that authentic Sacred Harp singing has appeared in a noteworthy Hollywood-produced movie and soundtrack. It was made possible by singer Tim Eriksen and members of the Ivey family of north Alabama. Along with the two Sacred Harp songs, the soundtrack includes several tracks of traditional 19th century music sung by Tim Eriksen and others, including a lovely unaccompanied solo "Lady Margret" (not in the film) by Sacred Harp singer Cassie Franklin of Henagar. The film soundtrack was produced by T. Bone Burnett. The CD recording is on the DMZ/Columbia/Sony Music/Soundtrax label as #CK86843 and is available in record stores and online outlets. The two Sacred Harp songs can be downloaded on iTunes.

Solo albums by singer Tim Eriksen. Exceptionally versatile singer Tim Eriksen initially became well known as both a rock musician in his band Cordelia's Dad and also a serious ballad/folk/Sacred Harp singer. BBC Radio states that he is "widely regarded as the best traditional American ballad singer of his generation." Currently based in Amherst, MA, he is an active concertizing and recording artist and singing-school teacher who has inspired numerous young people to explore the joys of singing early American music. He also researches and uncovers obscure and often unrecorded folksongs. There is an interesting interview of Mr. Eriksen on a UMN Web page. As a solo performer has been creating commercial CD recordings at an increasing rate. These are listed on his website. Some containing songs from the shape-note/Sacred Harp tradition are as follows:

"Brethren, We Meet Again - Southern White Spirituals" Vol. 4 of Alan Lomax's Southern Journey. Rounder Records issued thirteen CDs of folklorist Alan Lomax's remarkable collection of 1959-60 field recordings of folk and traditional religious music of the American South. Vol. 4 (ROUN1704, or 011661-1794-21), released in 1997, contains three powerful examples of Sacred Harp singing from the 1959 United Convention in Fyffe, AL (Sardinia, North Port, and I'm On My Journey Home). The remainder of the album includes much material currently on the New World album "The Gospel Ship" (see the Lined-Out Hymnody chapter), namely, lining hymns from rural Kentucky, spirituals, testimony, and gospel music. Order from local record stores or directly from the Rounder online store.

Recordings produced by the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture and the Alabama Folklife Association. To order recordings, mail a check made out to the Alabama Folklife Association and send to Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, 410 North Hull St., Montgomery, AL 36104, phone 334-242-3601. Credit card and online orders are now possible.

"Amazing Grace: Spiritual Folk Songs of Early America" performed by Custer LaRue, soprano, and The Baltimore Consort. This 2001 CD recording (Dorian Recordings xCD-90296) presents 18 early American songs, many of which are not widely familiar to either the public or shape-note singers. Seventeen are taken from George Pullen Jackson's collections of unharmonized melodies with words, and one comes from a similar collection by English folklorist Cecil Sharp. All but two songs are sung (melody only) by soprano Custer LaRue, a specialist in early music and traditional ballads, either with instrumental accompaniment (lute, bandora, cittern, viols, rebec or unaccompanied. These include such tunes as "Frozen Heart," "Wondrous Love," "Union," "Return Again" ("Invitation"), "Tribulation," "The Cross of Christ," "Hold On," "Good Old Way," "Poor Wayfaring Stranger," and "Amazing Grace." Two songs which may have been original ly fiddle tunes, "Old Fashioned Bible" and Ingalls' "Heavenly Contention," are performed with instruments alone. Ms. LaRue's voice is beautiful, delicate, and sensuous, and she sings the solemn texts in a soulful and devotional style. The liner notes are detailed and excellent. In spite of not presenting tunebook harmonizations, this recording has been enthusiastically reviewed by several Sacred Harp singers for its fresh and inspiring renditions of folk hymns which contributed to the core of shape-note tunebooks. Sold in record stores and online stores.

Recordings by The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble. The Western Wind is a New York-based a cappella sextet with a professional, expressive, art-song singing style. They have recorded a variety of types of folk songs, but their singing style is their own rather than an emulation of the appropriate folk style. Some of their recordings may be found in record stores. Alternatively one can order them from the Wind's office at 263 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024, phone 800-788-2187. Track listings and other contact information are found on their Web site. (Pages for specific recordings could no longer be directly accessed (in November, 2002) on their "improved" Web site.) The Wind also publishes a songbook containing a sampling of all of the types of music that they have recorded.

"Shall We Gather: American Hymns and Spirituals" sung by the William Appling Singers conducted by William Appling. This CD recording, issued in 2001, features a professional, polished choral group (whose 1999 recording of William Billings' music is listed in chapter 6), performing in live concert 27 hymns, many in arrangement form. According to Berkley Moore, seven are shape-note songs (all but one in The Sacred Harp in some form or other), one is a Shaker song, and twelve are Black Spirituals. Six of the seven other songs are nineteenth century hymns in diverse styles, and there is one tune composed in 1932 for the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The CD is on the Albany Records label numbered Troy 476. Available in record stores and Internet outlets, including the Albany Records Web site store.

"Sweet Manna: Early American Songs of Praise" sung by the Musicians of Melodious Accord, directed by Alice Parker. Ms. Parker is a noted composer, arranger, lecturer, and hymn-sing leader who is fostering interest around the U.S. in a cappella congregational hymn singing and folk hymnody. This 1999 recording (GIA 434) in CD and cassette formats contains 17 early American hymns and fuging tunes, including eight from Kentucky Harmony (although sources are unfortunately not listed in the notes. They are arranged by Ms. Parker in what she calls "settings skillfully reworked to echo the sounds of the day" and sung a cappella by a professional choir in a cultivated style. Several reviewers have praised the singing and its excellent choice of tunes, although the listening time is unexpectedly brief (35 minutes). Order from record stores or from GIA Publications directly, where the price is $15.95 per CD or $10.95 per tape plus shipping. (One can also order directly from the Melodious Accord Web site.) The scores of the arrangements will be available as well from GIA for $17.95. Contact GIA Publications at 800-442-1358 (e-mail custserv@giamusic.com).

"Transformations," by the Musicians of Melodious Accord directed by Alice Parker. Transformations is a collection, written around 1974, of 24 arrangements for choir, brass quartette, and harp of 13 folk hymns from the Harmonia Sacra and 11 secular folk tunes (the latter with piano also). These skillful and complex neo-Romantic arrangements, performed by an excellent 16-voice professional choir, are beautiful. The liner notes provide minimal information, however, and do not mention the source tunebook; also the tunes are identified only by first line of text rather than the tune name. The original recording on the Musical Heritage Society label has been re-released. Order directly from the Melodious Accord Web site, where the price is $16.00 per CD plus shipping.

"Melodious Accord: A Concert of Praise" sung by the Master Chorale of Washington directed by Donald McCullough and Alice Parker. This is a recording of a live choral concert featuring early American hymnody at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center Concert Hall in November 1999. Donald McCullough conducts "Melodious Accord," Alice Parker's shape-note settings from the Harmonia Sacra for chorus, soloists, brass and harp. A second and robust portion of the concert was the singing of shape note hymns by the Master Chorale along with members of the audience arranged in a quasi-hollow square around the hall. Some of the tunes presented are Wesley, Idumea, Sweet Prospect, Wondrous Love, Hiding Place, and His Voice as the Sound. Gothic Records CD 49129. The list price is $16.98 on the Gothic Records Web site.

"Amazing Grace: American Hymns and Spirituals," by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers of the Ohio State University, conducted by Robert Shaw. This CD (Telarc CD-80325), recorded in 1992 and issued in 1993, presents an excellent choir with soloists performing contemporary arrangements of 20 early American hymns and spirituals, 10 from the "white" tradition and 10 from the black tradition. Essentially all of the 10 "white" tunes from which the arrangements are derived can be found in shape-note tunebooks; unfortunately tune names are not generally listed. These choral arrangements by Shaw and Alice Parker are beautiful within their own genre, that of the professional choral anthem, but to some there is an unfortunate implication that the original simple tunes and harmonizations needed to be prettied-up to appeal to modern audiences. The notes state that this CD represents Shaw's latest thoughts on music that was recorded by the Robert Shaw Chorale on LPs dating from 1958 to 1967. It may still be available in record stores or Internet outlets, including the Telarc/Concord Web site.

"Angels: Voices from Eternity," by Joel Cohen with Tod Machover, performed by the Boston Camerata with the Boston Shawm and Sackbut Ensemble, the Harvard University Choir, and Youth Pro Musica. This 1997 recording is described by Boston Camerata director Joel Cohen as "a rapid guided tour of the angel realms, in the form of a musical fantasy. Except for the Angel of Death, whose music is entirely original [by Machover], all the other musical themes and texts are drawn from early sources: the European Middle Ages (Gregorian chants and polyphonies) and early American (hymns and Shaker spirituals)...." Six shape-note hymns find their way in these arrangements for choir, instruments, and synthesizer. While the electronic synthesized sound may be an irritant to many early music lovers, this remarkable, novel, and controversial work dares to integrate medieval, shape-note, Shaker, and contemporary musical styles into a single work based on the angel theme. Erato 14773-2. Order from online stores or from the Boston Camerata.

"Alleluia: An American Hymnal", performed by the Kansas City Chorale directed by Charles Bruffy. The Kansas City Chorale is an outstanding professional classical choral group of 24-25 singers. This CD (NI5568) was released in 1998 by the British label Nimbus Records. However: WARNING!: The table of contents on the backliner of the CD states that the recording contains three works (tunes Invitation, Exultation, Maitland) from Southern Harmony (pub. 1834), two works (tunes Wondrous Love, Saints Bound for Heaven) from The Sacred Harp (pub. 1844), along with one additional shape-note tune (Nettleton), four Shaker songs, six African American spirituals, and four modern works. This wording leads the purchaser to believe that five of the shape-note hymns are performed directly from the tunebook editions cited. However, after purchase of the CD for around $16.00, removal of the shrink-wrap, and inspection of the inside table of contents, one finds that all of the shape-note works are neo-Romantic choral arrangements by Alice Parker (with or without Robert Shaw), Roy Ringwald, or James Mulholland. While these arrangements are beautiful, the failure to note on the CD's backliner that arrangements are presented is an insult to the shape-note hymnody movement (through the implication that the original tunebook versions have no present-day existence except through arrangements), as well as a disservice to the arrangers (through insufficient acknowledgment).

"Music of the American Revolution: The Birth of Liberty," performed the Continental Harmony Singers (Neely Bruce, conductor), the Liberty Tree Wind Players, the American Fife Ensemble, Seth McCoy (tenor), Sherrill Milnes (baritone), and others. This 1996 CD is a reissue of a 1976 New World LP. The recording contains 20 selections covering a variety of types of music from the Revolutionary War period. Of interest to shape-note singers are four choral pieces by composers Billings ("Lamentation over Boston"and "Independence") and Wood ("Warren" and "A Hymn on Peace"), sung by the highly-vibratoed Continental Harmony. The other selections include marching music and traditional songs, some sung by current operatic superstar Sherrill Milnes. The scholarly liner notes by Richard Crawford are unusually extensive. New World Records 80276-2. Order from record stores, mail order houses, or directly from New World Records at 212-290-1685.

"The Carol Album" and "The Christmas Album," by the Taverner Consort, directed by Andrew Parrott. The Taverner Consort has issued three Christmas CDs in recent years. Berkley Moore writes: "The first and best was "The Carol Album" in 1990 (Capitol CDC 7-49809-2). It contains "The Babe of Bethlehem," Ingalls' "Redemption," and an English West Gallery hymn. The 1992 "The Christmas Album," contains Billings' "Judea" and "Shiloh" as well as a West Gallery fuging tune. The 1993 recording "The Carol Album 2" contains no shape-note tunes. All three CDs contain Christmas music in a great variety of styles and are on the EMI label." Available in record stores and online outlets.

"Carols from the Old and New Worlds," sung by the Theatre of Voices directed by Paul Hillier. Hillier's recent early music a cappella group issued in 1994 this Christmas CD. Included are the American shape-note tunes The Shepherd's Star, Sherburne, Ingalls' The Apple Tree, Christmas Hymn, Belcher's Carol, and Eltham. Available in or through record stores. Harmonia Mundi HMU907079.

"Carols from the Old and New Worlds, Vol. 2", sung by the Pro Arte Singers and the Indiana Children's Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Hillier. This 1998 sequel to the above album contains unaccompanied early English carols, Shaker tunes, several American shape-note carols, and 20th-century compositions. Harmonia Mundi HMU907233. However, this record no longer appears in the HM online catalog, suggesting that all remaining unsold copies (if any) are with retailers.

"Home to Thanksgiving: Songs of Thanks and Praise" performed by the Theatre of Voices and His Majestie's Clerkes (now Bella Voce) conducted by Paul Hillier. This late-1999 release includes at least nine works from the American shape note tradition, along with 20th century music and medieval chant. Harmonia Mundi 290724. Available in CD format in record stores.

"Our American Journey," performed by Chanticleer, directed by Joseph Jennings. Chanticleer is a professional men's a cappella ensemble of twelve voices and based in San Francisco. This recording (Teldec Classics #0927-48556-2) includes three Sacred Harp tunes: "Jefferson," "David's Lamentation," and "Soar Away." This recording has been highly acclaimed in classical music circles. However, some have commented that in the Sacred Harp numbers the singers' affected Southern accent seems more pronounced than what one hears at genuine Southern singings. The liner notes contains lyrics translated into French and German.

"An American Journey: Bound for the Promised Land," performed by the Waverly Consort directed by Michael Jaffee. This 51-minute CD (Angel 2435-55522-2) contains 26 selections of a variety of music from early America, ca 1750-1855, performed by a top early-music group willing to "crossover" into folk idioms. Included are New England pieces of a sacred and secular nature (by Billings, Law, and Belcher), Southern folk hymns performed with instrumental accompaniment (guitar, banjo, hammered dulcimer), and instrumental country dance music from Henry Playford's "English Dancing Master." The voices are beautiful, and the performances are spirited and potentially enjoyable to a wide audience, although shape-note singers will find some of the Southern folk hymns overly "folked up." Available in record stores.

"A Waverly Consort Christmas," performed by The Waverly Consort, directed by Michael Jaffee. This CD (Virgin Classics CDC 7243-5-55193-20) was issued in 1994. Berkley Moore writes: "Along with the consort's customary medieval and renaissance fare appear Billings' Bethlehem and Shiloh, Exultation (complete with banjo interlude!) and Star in the East done as a medley, instrumentally in the major mode version from Southern Harmony and vocally in the mixed mode version from Kentucky." Available in record stores.

Recordings by the Christmas Revels directed by John Langstaff. The Revels ensembles in eleven U.S. cities are professional groups of singers, instrumentalists, and dancers who give annual theatrical performances featuring an extensive variety of traditional holiday and winter-solstice music, dance, and drama. Each performance has a theme varying from year to year. When the theme encompasses American Christmas music, a few Anglo-American shape-note carols and fuging tunes are often included. Recordings have been made featuring highlights from performances. Order from Revels Store, 80 Mount Auburn Street, Dept. R, Watertown, Massachusetts 02472-3930, phone 617-972-8300 Extension 21 (e-mail records@revels.org). The prices are $14.95 per CD and $7.95 per cassette tape, plus shipping and handling as indicated on the order form.

"Nowell Sing We Clear: A Pageant of Midwinter Carols" performed by John Roberts, Tony Barrand, and Friends. British folk singers John Roberts and Tony Barrand (the latter an editor of the "Northern Harmony" tunebook and currently living in Vermont), along with Fred Breunig, Steven Woodruff, and (in the most recent recording) Andy Davis, have produced since 1977 several Christmas albums containing traditional Anglo-American midwinter carols from both sides of the Atlantic. Every album includes some carols from the British gallery music and village carols traditions and the American shape-note tradition. Some are sung a cappella and some are accompanied by fiddle, accordion, concertinas, etc. These records are available from Golden Hind Music, P.O. Box 1792, Schenectady, NY 12301, phone 518-370-4166, where the prices are $15.00 per CD, $10.00 per cassette, and $2.00 postage for the first item and $1 for each additional item. The available titles include the following:

"Angels Hovering Round: Songs for Hospice and Healing" performed by the Hallowell singers directed by Mary Cay Brass and Peter Amidon. This recording has 18 songs sung by an a cappella group in Brattleboro, VT associated with Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, long-time organizers of shape-note singing in their town. The tracks include at least one Sacred Harp song, "New Jerusalem" and a variety of traditional songs from various nations. Price $15.00 plus shipping. More information, sample audio clips, and online ordering are found on the Web page.

"Appalachian Sketches" sung by the Gloriae Dei Cantores (Paraclete GDCD031.) Gloria Dei Cantores is professional choir associated with the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Berkley Moore writes: "The recording contains arrangements of 15 shape-note songs, two other songs, and a fifteen-minute choral and violin commissioned concert piece ("Let Us Move") composed by the well known classical violin-folk fiddle crossover star Mark O'Connor, that uses Wesley's text "Hail the day that sees him rise." Alice Parker arranges almost all of the shape-note songs, and only two have not been recorded elsewhere recently." This recording was issued in September 2001 and can be ordered through Paraclete Press at 800-451-5006.

Recordings of Primitive Baptist hymns issued by the Baptist Bible Hour, Inc. A large number of LPs and cassette tapes at reasonable prices feature many shape-note hymns sung by several Primitive Baptist choirs (with the melody in the soprano part). Consult their online store for specific recordings.

"Wondrous Love", containing instrumental arrangements from the shape note tradition, arranged for instruments by Barry and Shelley Phillips. This recording (Gourd Music GM118) contains arrangements of 21 selections from the Sacred Harp for at least 16 instruments including guitar, fiddle, mandolin, flute, harp, and dulcimer, and others (but no vocals). The lead performers and arrangers are Barry and Shelley Phillips. The delicate and beautiful arrangements are in several styles--early music, folk, and a fusion of both. The liner is also beautiful. Order from Gourd Music in Felton, CA, at 800-487-4939. The price is $12.00 per CD or $8.00 per cassette plus $3.50 shipping per order. Online ordering is possible on the Web site.

Sheet music for "Wondrous Love" instrumental arrangements. This paperback, a companion to the CD listed above, was published by Mel Bay in 1999 and is listed in Amazon.com. ISBN: 00786625961.

"Homespun Songs of Faith, 1861-1865, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2" sung by Bobby Horton. Bobby Horton is a folk singer from Birmingham, AL, who has made many recordings of music from the Civil War. Volume 1 of "Homespun Songs of Faith", issued in 1990, presents eighteen songs of faith. Mr. Horton sings all parts (from one to four) and accompanies himself with a variety of instruments (fiddle, banjo, mandolin, whistle, drum, guitar, hammered dulcimer, harp, etc.). He recorded the series in his home; hence the name, "homespun." Songs familiar to shape-note singers include Exultation, Amazing Grace, Pleyel's Hymn, Wondrous Love, I Will Arise (Restoration), Poor Wayfaring Stranger, Promised Land, and Morning Trumpet. The songs are presented with instrumental accompaniment, not harmonized as in shape-note tunebooks. Volume 2 presents 20 songs including quite a few Southern shape-note hymns. Available from CDBaby, where the web pages contain preview audio clips.

"American Folk Songs for Christmas," by Mike, Peggy, Penny Seeger and their families. A Rounder Records 2 CD set CD 0268/0269, contains 53 songs, including 9 shape-note songs, from their mother's book of the same title, recently reprinted in paperback.

"Lost In A Song" performed by Finest Kind, a folk trio composed of Shelley Posen, Ian Robb, and Ann Downey. This 1996 recording contains fifteen mostly traditional songs, some sung a cappella and others with instruments. It is listed here for one reason: a song written and composed in 1990 by Shelley Posen entitled "Fa-Sol-La." The tune incorporates the fuge of the Sacred Harp tune "Showers of Blessings," and the lyrics in five verses describe a person happening upon a Fasola (Sacred Harp) singing in the Southern U.S. and describing with reverent words the musical and spiritual aspects of the experience. Sacred Harp singers who have heard the song have praised it highly. A description of this recording and playlist are found on the Fallen Angle Website; scroll down to "Lost In A Song.". One can order order online on this Website.

"With Heart and Voice: Anthems Across America" sung by Madrigalia, Rochester's Chamber Singers, conducted by Roger Wilkens Berkley Moore writes: "This unnumbered CD contains 23 twentieth-century choral (and sometimes organ) compositions which include five thoughtful rearrangements of Southern Harmony selections Restoration, Holy Manna, Warrenton, Dunlap's Creek, and The Spiritual Sailor." If not found on CDBaby.com, order from Madrigalia at P.O. Box 92068,Rochester, NY 14692, phone 585-230-2894.

"Southern Harmony," by William Duckworth, sung by the Gregg Smith Singers. Berkley Moore provides the following information: This is a 20-movement work for a cappella chorus by Duckworth, who sang shape-note music in North Carolina as a child and sang Sacred Harp music with Neely Bruce, who commissioned this work. All but two movements are based on shape-note tunes such as Consolation, Wondrous Love, Hebrew Children, Solemn Thought, Rock of Ages, Holy Manna, Bozra, Sardinia, Turtle Dove, etc. The Web page states: "A post-minimalist reworking of hymns from the famous 1854 edition of the eponymous hymn collection, one of the staple sources for shaped-note singing. It's a translation from a naive (if complex) church tradition into a form and texture conscious concert medium, an exploration of processes inherent in the original hymn but not developed there." (Of course, this work has no official relation with the Southern Harmony tunebook.) The CD is available on the Lovely Music label, LCD2033.

(Of ancillary interest: "Angel's Visits and Other Vocal Gems of Victorian America," performed by the Harmoneion Singers, Neely Bruce, conductor with Kathleen Battle, soprano, Rose Taylor, mezzo-soprano, Raymond Murcell, baritone, Lawrence Skrobacs, piano and harmonium. This 1977 recording, now reissued on CD, features 13 mid- and late- 18th-century songs performed in Victorian parlor style. At least one song has an earlier shape-note version, "Oh, You Must Be a Lover of the Lord." There are excellent liner notes by Richard Jackson. This recording is listed here mainly because the director, Neely Bruce, is a prominent contemporary shape-note composer and Sacred Harp singer. New World Records 80220-2. Available in mail order houses, and New World Records at 212-290-1685.)


Steven L. Sabol (sabol@his.com)
HTML version by Warren Steel (mudws@olemiss.edu)