The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition

This is the most popular shape-note tunebook in use today for a cappella singing of religious music, mostly of early American origin, in four-part harmony. Singing from this book and other Sacred Harp editions is Sacred Harp singing.

The 1991 Edition (the successor to the Denson Revision) is the more widely used of two major editions of The Sacred Harp in use today, particularly in the north and central regions of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, and among the many Sacred Harp singers outside the South. In the lineage of Sacred Harp editions, it is a descendent of the 1844 tunebook The Sacred Harp by B.F. White and E. J. King and the 1911 revision called Original Sacred Harp compiled by Joseph S. James. More immediately it is a revision of, and successor to, the Original Sacred Harp: Denson Revision (1936). To compile the 1991 Edition, a music committee of prominent Sacred Harp singers chaired by Hugh McGraw added 62 songs and deleted 46 rarely sung older songs and anthems. The added songs include late 18th- and early 19th-century classics of New England and Southern origin and new songs by living composers from the South, Northeast, and Midwest.

This edition/revision is still frequently termed the "Denson book" by many Sacred Harpers, but this is incorrect in a strict sense, because the music committee for this major revision did not include members of the Denson family, and the ownership of the publishing company was (and is) no longer concentrated in the Denson family. The 1991 Edition was realized through the leadership of Hugh McGraw, the dynamic Executive Secretary of the publishing company from 1958 to 2002.
The scores of all 554 songs were entirely retypeset for easier legibility. Sources and dates of tunes and texts were revised to reflect modern scholarship by Professors Warren Steel and William J. Reynolds. There is a new Rudiments section relevant to modern singers by John Garst. This edition has been very enthusiastically received by the Sacred Harp community as well as by hymnologists. ISBN 0-9727398-0-7. Order from the Sacred Harp Publishing Co., c/o Philip Denney, 208 Oak Grove Road, Carrollton, GA 30117. Prices as of May 2016: The price of one-five books is $20.00 per book plus $5.00 for the first book for shipping via USPS to U.S. addresses. Shipping for additional books after the first (up to four) is $2.75 per book. The price of a case of six books is $120.00 per case plus $15.00 for the first case for shipping including insurance and delivery confirmation. Shipping for additional cases is $12.75 per case. Larger orders must be in multiples of six books. For shipping via USPS to international addresses, the price is $190.00/case including shipping. More details are on the website. Address inquiries to Make checks payable to Sacred Harp Publishing Company. Payment by credit card through PayPal is now available.

[photo of open Sacred Harp tunebook on grass with fallen cherry blossoms]