Sacred Harp Sing Saturday at Pioneer Museum

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The 11th Annual Troy All-Day Sacred Harp Sing will be Saturday at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

The sing will be from 9:30 a.m. until around 2:30 p.m. and all singers are invited as well as those who just want to sit and listen to the old-time music.

The annual Sacred Harp Sing is organized by Ken Sundberg of Troy, who is an advocate for Sacred Harp singing and is also a “harp.”

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“The ‘harp’ in Sacred Harp refers to the musical instrument that is given to us at birth — the human voice,” Sundberg said. “Sacred Harp is an old-time way of singing. The shape-note music notes are printed in special shapes. Sacred Harp has four shapes and each shape is connected to a certain syllable, fa-sol-la or mi.”

With those four notes, singers are able to cover the full musical scale and the notes are sung and then the poetry, or the words.

Sundberg said visitors are always welcome and are invited to sit and listen or sing along.

Sacred Harp singers sing with enthusiasm and from the heart and it’s loud. If you can hear your neighbor singing, then you aren’t singing loud enough.

Sacred Harp music is not sung for an audience; it’s sung for the singers’ own enjoyment and for inspiration.

“Sacred Harp is the kind of music that you like or don’t like. If you like it, it gets in your heart and soul and it will stay there.”

Sacred Harp is in Sundberg’s heart and he enjoys singing the four-note music and always welcomes those who want to come and listen or join in with their harps.

“We don’t have a time that is designated for instruction on Sacred Harp music and how it is sung, but there is usually someone who will give a quick lesson,” Sundberg said. “We all have favorite songs. Songs that we like to lead and those we like to sing.”

For Sundberg, “The Loft That is Higher Than I” is a favorite.

“And, ‘On Jordan’s Stormy Banks’ is another favorite. It’s in ‘The Sacred Harp Blue Book five times, each with a different melody,” Sundberg said. “On Saturday, we’ll sing everybody’s favorites and we invite visitors. We have young people who sing and encourage young people to come and learn more about Sacred Harp music. Alabama is rich in the tradition of Sacred Harp music. You don’t have to know anything about music to sing Sacred Harp. Just open your mouth and sing.”