Everyone is welcome to sing or listen.
No music experience necessary... really!

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Sacred Harp music takes its name from a series of American tunebooks called The Sacred Harp. It’s participatory, non-instrumental, choral music that anyone is invited to sing — there is no rehearsing for performance.  It has strong roots in the early music of New England and the deep South, and has spread throughout the United States and to Canada, Europe, and Australia.

The Sacred Harp uses a system of musical notation, called shape notes, that allow even relatively new singers to sing tunes at a first reading. Singers typically sit in a square, by parts, and everyone is invited to lead from the center of the square.

The video shown here, from the second annual Ireland Sacred Harp Convention in 2012, shows our typical practice — first, the singers “sound the chord,” and practice the song by “singing the shapes”. The leader in the middle sets the tempo by beating time, and many in the square join her. After singing the shapes, the singers, called “the class,” sing the words, which are usually of a religious nature:

  I am a poor, wayfaring stranger,
  While journ’ying through this world of woe,
  Yet, there’s no sickness, toil nor danger,
  In that bright world to which I go.

  I’m going there to see my Father,
  I’m going there no more to roam;
  I’m only going over Jordan,
  I’m only going over home.

If you’re not religious, or Christian, worry not — people from many traditions (and lack thereof) enjoy this music for its power and depth and for the joy of singing together.

More information is available at  But the best way to learn about Sacred Harp is to just come to a singing and hear for yourself.

(This text largely taken from the San Francisco Bay Area Sacred Harp singing community, with permission.)