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Friday, May 22, 2015

Sacred Harp singing

When: 3/14/2010
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Singers from several states will make a joyful noise on Sunday at Oxford’s 30th annual all-day Sacred Harp singing in the choral room of the music building on the Ole Miss campus, located next to the baseball field. The singing runs from 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Parking is available at the east end of the building (by the band hall) and near the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Signs will lead to the spacious and resonant choral room. The Scared Harp, a shape-note tunebook first published in 1844, contains songs sung by the first settlers in Oxford and north Mississippi. A Sacred Harp singing is neither a concert nor a performance, but a community musical event with deep roots in American tradition. At every singing, the stately ways of an earlier era are maintained. 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. There is no instrumental accompaniment. The Scared 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 in an adjoining room in the music building. All are invited and Oxford residents planning to attend 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 city of Oxford, the department of music and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. For more information, call either Warren and Anne Steel at 236-5356 or John and Brenda Merritt at 234-1344.

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