What is Sacred Harp Singing, Anyway?


We’re thrilled to welcome Tim Eriksen to Voice Works in 2014 to teach Sacred Harp Singing.

These days there are plenty of online resources to get an introduction to Sacred Harp singing, but David Warren Steel says simply:

“Sacred Harp singing is a community musical and social event emphasizing participation, not performance, where people sing from a tune book called The Sacred Harp, printed in music notation using four shaped notes.”

Singers sit facing inward in a hollow square, and each individual is invited to take a turn “leading,” i.e. standing in the center, selecting a song, and beating time with the hand. The singing is unaccompanied. It’s an old tradition, but there’s not many “sings” in the Northwest. Lucky for us Tim Eriksen will be leading a Sacred Harp session each day at Voice Works this June.

Here’s Alan Lomax talking about it: