Thursday, March 22, 2012

Special March Bonus - Sound & Spirit does Sacred Harp

Several days ago, Alexis Walker asked about a public television program on shape note singing. While I couldn't find the exact program information she requested, I did stumble across a link to a 59 minute episode of Sound & Spirit, "Sacred Harp," a WBGH radio presentation. Ellen Kushner, the program host, weaves musical examples of early American hymns with discussion of the Sacred Harp and other collections of American mountain folk hymns, how singing masters conducted singing schools and even examples of concert music from American composers inspired by the rough and ready American hymns. I even learned that Abe Lincoln sang songs from the Missouri Harmony as a young man in Illinois. The program and a link to a separate play list can be found at

I ended up playing to program while consulting the play list in a separate browser window so I could easily see the name of the song, the composer, and the name of the record, CD or group singing each tune. If you get a chance, check out some of the many musical variations that have sprung from such simple beginnings, and check out some of the other program offerings available from WBGH.

Thanks Alexis for being the catalyst that led to finding such an interesting website. We never waste a good Google search!