Shape Note / Sacred Harp singers from many states and from Canada will once again gather in Warren County for the Annual Missouri State Sacred Harp Singing Convention. This year’s event will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11, at St. John’s United Church of Christ on Highway 94 in Pinckney Township.
This will be the 33rd Missouri State Convention and the 22nd consecutive time it will be held at St. John’s church.
Singers of this Early American form of singing love to come to this 1870s church building because of the warmth of the host congregation, because of the building’s wonderful acoustic qualities, and because the building is reminiscent of the churches of Colonial New England where this style of music originated and of the rural Southern churches where it was lovingly preserved.
All are invited to join in the singing, although “listeners” are also always very welcome.
Whether singing or listening, attendees will have the opportunity to experience “full voiced” a cappella singing consisting of dispersed harmony and haunting lyrics.
Singing will be from “The Sacred Harp,” first published in 1844, and from “The Missouri Harmony,” first published in 1820 and revised and enlarged by local singers in 2005. There will be tune books available for purchase or for use at the singing, as well as recordings of previous Sacred Harp Singing Conventions.
There are plenty of videos of Sacred Harp singing on the Internet, including this one from the 2015 Missouri State Convention https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7E5BVbEhyY and this multi-year compilation of Missouri State Conventions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5ieBlcPoks.
Although this music was first introduced to assist congregational singing in Colonial America, nowadays it has no denominational ties. Singers come from a variety of belief backgrounds — and some come with no formal religious affiliation.
The appeal of the music transcends denominations and all singers feel enriched by it.
Singing will be from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, with the customary pot-luck style “Dinner on the Grounds” at noon.
In the South, these meals are often shared outside. At St. John’s, the meals will be “spread” inside the church’s fellowship building, although in fair weather it is not unusual for some to enjoy eating outside.
Local attendees (both singers and listeners) bring various food dishes for all to share.
When reflecting on conventions in which they have participated, Sacred Harp singers remember the music, the friendships and the shared meals.
St. John’s United Church of Christ is located approximately 12 miles west of Marthasville on Highway 94. Visit www.tinyurl.com/pinckney for a map. To find the church with a GPS, set it to 38.668203 N, 91.237481 W.
There is no admission charge to attend, but a free-will offering will be received during the course of the convention. Contributions of food dishes for the “dinner on the grounds” are also gratefully accepted.
For more information about the 33rd Annual Missouri State Sacred Harp Singing Convention, see the Convention flyer at http://stlfasola.org/MO_convention_flyer_2018.pdf, write to email@example.com, or call Paul Figura at 314-962-4870.