Today a number of my DAR chapter members met with the Austin Women’s Club for a luncheon. Our program was by Gaylon Powell and a group of sacred harp singers. This interested me because shape notes were used in the hymnals at the church I grew up in. Also, my paternal grandfather had taught singing using shape notes and I have one of his books.
Sacred Harp is religious folk music, which is sung with the aid of a unique shape-note songbook, The Sacred Harp, first published in 1844 by B. F. White and E. J. King. Sacred Harp singers produce a unique sound. It is not melodious but more like the “joyful noise” mentioned in the Bible. Sacred harp is sung a cappella, often in minor keys. Even though my church used hymnals with shape notes, we used musical instruments and all the songs – to the best of my memory – were in major keys.