History

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 the USA, 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 2019 Convention will be hosted by the Bristol Sacred Harp singers at the Trinity Centre. 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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Harp

Twenty Three Years of the UK Sacred Harp Convention

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).

YearLocationConvention Chair(s)
1996Hitchin, HertfordshireSteve Fletcher
1997Hitchin, HertfordshireJudy Whiting
1998Beeston, NottinghamshireDavid Cooper
1999Beeston, NottinghamshireDavid Cooper
2000Beeston, NottinghamshireDavid Cooper
2001Cumnor, OxfordEdwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Smith
2002Cumnor, OxfordEdwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Macadam
2003Cumnor, OxfordEdwin Macadam
2004Letchworth, HertfordshireKen Baddley
2005Letchworth, HertfordshireKen Baddley
2006Witney, OxonMandy Townsend
2007Witney, OxonMandy Townsend
2008Marsden, West YorkshireJudy Whiting and Chris Brown
2009Marsden, West YorkshireJudy Whiting and Chris Brown
2010Weedon Bec, NorthamptonshireMick Verrier
2011Stannington, South YorkshireSarah West
2012Winnersh, BerkshireMichael Walker
2013Framwellgate, County DurhamCath Tyler
2014Stannington, South YorkshireHannah Land
2015LondonErin Johnson-Williams
2016BristolMatthew Parkinson
2017Stannington, South YorkshireVicki Elliott
2018Brighton & Hove, East SussexCatherine Roberts
2019BristolSteve Brett

The East Midlands Sacred Harp Convention

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.

Local Singings in the UK and Europe

Singers meet regularly all around the UK and Europe. For more information, visit the UK Sacred Harp & Shapenote Singing website:

http://www.ukshapenote.org.uk/

For more information about the Sacred Harp book itself, visit the Sacred Harp Publishing Company website:

http://originalsacredharp.com/