Sacred Harp singing is a form of traditional, unaccompanied community harmony singing. The tradition as we know it today comes from the Southern states of America, but the music can trace its roots to a number of places and time periods.
Our tradition knows neither rehearsal nor performance, and, like our Convention, is open to all – regardless of background, age, religious belief or musical experience.
The UK has a thriving Sacred Harp community, and events are held up and down the country throughout the year. The United Kingdom Convention has been held annually since 1996 and is one of the largest Sacred Harp singings outside the United States.
Our 2016 Convention will be hosted by Bristol Sacred Harp singers at the Trinity Centre in central Bristol. It will draw together singers old and new, young and old, from across the British Isles and from further afield, for a weekend of singing, friendship and fellowship.
Find out more about Sacred Harp music:
In 1996, the first two day singings, known as Shapenote Conventions were held. For the first three years, the Conventions were two book singings using The Sacred Harp (Denson Edition, 1991) and The Northern Harmony, and aimed at attracting those who had been taught by Larry Gordon and brought up on Northern Harmony shape note music. Since 1999, the Convention has been a single book singing, using The Sacred Harp (Denson Edition, 1991).
|1996||Hitchin, Hertfordshire||Steve Fletcher|
|1997||Hitchin, Hertfordshire||Judy Whiting|
|1998||Beeston, Nottinghamshire||David Cooper|
|1999||Beeston, Nottinghamshire||David Cooper|
|2000||Beeston, Nottinghamshire||David Cooper|
|2001||Cumnor, Oxford||Edwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Smith|
|2002||Cumnor, Oxford||Edwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Macadam|
|2003||Cumnor, Oxford||Edwin Macadam|
|2004||Letchworth, Hertfordshire||Ken Baddley|
|2005||Letchworth, Hertfordshire||Ken Baddley|
|2006||Witney, Oxon||Mandy Townsend|
|2007||Witney, Oxon||Mandy Townsend|
|2008||Marsden, West Yorkshire||Judy Whiting and Chris Brown|
|2009||Marsden, West Yorkshire||Judy Whiting and Chris Brown|
|2010||Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire||Mick Verrier|
|2011||Stannington, South Yorkshire||Sarah West|
|2012||Winnersh, Berkshire||Michael Walker|
|2013||Framwellgate, County Durham||Cath Tyler|
|2014||Stannington, South Yorkshire||Hannah Land|
|2017||Stannington, South Yorkshire||Vicki Elliott|
The East Midlands Sacred Harp Convention was founded in 2002 by Helen Brown, Ruth Steggles and Ian West, who felt that Sacred Harp singing in this country had grown strong enough to support a second two day singing.
A two day Convention has the potential for greater variety in pace and more flexibility in programming than a one day singing. This has allowed innovations such as the use of a second song book – The Sacred Harp (Revised Cooper Edition, 2012 – alongside The Sacred Harp (Denson Edition, 1991).
The East Midlands Convention continues to be held every year on the fourth Sunday in April and the Saturday before, at the Village Hall, Kegworth, Leicestershire.
Singers meet regularly all around the UK and Europe. For more information, visit the UK Sacred Harp & Shapenote Singing website:
For more information about the Sacred Harp book itself, visit the Sacred Harp Publishing Company website: