I was able to pull off attending the Hyde Park Anniversary Sacred Harp singing in Chicago on Saturday. It was great fun. A group of Moody students attended. This was (I think) their first time at a singing, except for one guy who has been apparently practicing at home. I asked the students if they wanted to join me in the square, and he asked to help lead I would see Jesus. I’d never led it, but decided to try. I didn’t make too much of a hash of it, but if I had to do it over, I’d lead verses two and three, instead of one and two.
We sang around a dozen songs from the new edition of Missouri Harmony tunebook. We sang enough songs that I decided I should probably purchase a copy. It clearly has some delightful tunes in it, although I’m disappointed by the musical typography, which uses a very basic font for ‘open’ (i.e, half and whole note) fa, la and mi. This makes seeing the notes a lot harder. I’ve noticed the same problem with the ‘Aiken’ shapes of LilyPond. Someday I’d like to get to creating these…
The fun surprise for me was that Mark Miller, who regularly sings at the Berkeley weekly singings, came in half way through. Mark is part of the Chicago Sacred Harp diaspora, but I only know him from Berkeley (where I often sing when I travel for work to California), so it was great fun to see him in the midwest. Unfortunately, I had to tip out just at the end to make it to an appointment.
I led the singing at our church’s worship service today, leading all of the eight verses of For all the saints found in the ‘old’ Mennonite Hymnbook. It was apparent that the song was new to our congregation, so I was glad that Bess sang out strongly. I decided it was the only hymn I know that is improved by an organ accompaniment, not only because of the initial note of each verse (typically a nice strong chord on the organ, with a rest by the singers), but because it covers up any mistakes in the difficult mapping between music and scansion.