Bloomington Sacred Harp

Shape note singing in and around Bloomington, Indiana

15 years of All-Day Singings in Bloomington

Coming up in just a few days, join us for the 15th Annual Bloomington All-Day Sacred Harp Singing. The event takes place at Fairview United Methodist Church (600 W 6th St) on Saturday, Oct 27th, 2018. We will sing from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with a traditional potluck dinner on the grounds at noon. *Local singers are encouraged to bring a dish to share.

Providing a hearty meal is just one little way we can care for the folks who travel, in some cases, 100s of miles to join us!

We will be singing from the 1991 revision the Sacred Harp, but don’t worry, loaner song books will be available. A voluntary donation will be taken to help cover expenses.

I’m a little nervous about singing and I don’t have much time. Can I stop by?

Yes, you are welcome to drop by for any amount of time to enjoy the sights and sounds! Trust me, it’s an incredible experience that is difficult to put into words. Just come and check it out and don’t feel bashful about timing your visit around noon to take part in the potluck. The food is almost as memorable as the singing!

Bloomington resident, William Shetter, who recently celebrated his 91st birthday, launched the first All-Day Singing event here in Bloomington in 2004. However, Shape Note Singing (or Sacred Harp) has been a part of our local community, in one form or another, since the late 70s.

John Beale of Cincinnati, Ohio was part of the group that began here in Bloomington in (probably) the late 70’s when he was a graduate student here at IU. David and I began singing with the original Bloomington group between 1988-89 using the brown book edition.  – Marlen Rust

Watch an interview with William Shetter with a little bit of singing from a local gathering.

Shape Note, also known as Sacred Harp singing, is part of an American singing tradition that developed over the period from 1770 to the mid 1800s. At the core of this tradition are the all-day singing conventions which usually occur annually. Historically, and even to this day, these singings provide a chance for local singers to meet singers from a wide region, share stories, new songs and form social bonds.

Ever since the American folk-music revival peaking in the mid-1960s, interest in Shape Note singing has been growing throughout America and Europe. More recently, films like “Cold Mountain” have featured Shape Note recordings that have inspired a whole new generation of music lovers to experience this traditional form of singing first-hand.

The global timeline map (below) displays the locations of “All-Day” singings held each year between 1995 and 2014 in sequence. Find more on this over at Southern Spaces.

We look forward to seeing you very soon! If you are on Facebook, help us share the event link here.

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