Sacred Harp singing Sunday at Powerhouse

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Singers from several states will make a joyful noise Sunday at Oxford’s 36th all-day Sacred Harp singing at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center.

The singing runs from 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Sacred Harp, a shape-note tunebook first published in 1844, contains songs sung by the first settlers in Oxford and North Mississippi. The long tradition of “Old Harp” singing in Lafayette County, revived in 1981 by Warren Steel and the late George Boswell, attracts singers from all parts of Mississippi, as well as Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and other states.

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A Sacred Harp singing is not a concert or a performance, but a community musical event with deep roots in American tradition. The singers sit facing inward in a “hollow square,” from which individuals are called, one by one, to stand in the center of the square and lead their favorite selections from the songbook.

The Sacred Harp represents the oldest continuous musical tradition in the United States, with many songs dating from the 18th century.

During the singing a traditional observance will be held in memory of singers and other community members who have passed away since last year’s singing. Another tradition is the famous “dinner on the grounds,” a potluck feast held at noon at the Powerhouse gallery. All are invited, and Oxford residents are asked to bring a dish to help feed out-of-town and out-of-state singers.

The singing is a cultural event sponsored by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the University of Mississippi Department of Music, and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

For information, call 662-236-5356.