Канберра - Mark leading 159 Wondrous Love

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Mark leading no. 159 "Wondrous Love" from the 1991 Denson edition of "The Sacred Harp," a traditional shape note tunebook. "Wondrous Love" is one of the best-known shape note tunes. The tune is being sung by about 50 Sacred Harp singers gathered for the Dominic Ziegler Memorial All-Day Singing, on January 1, 2013. Dominic was a Sacred Harp singer who died at age 23 in January, 2012, of a brain aneurysm.

If you've never seen Sacred Harp singing before, here are three things to notice: (a) The leaders beat time by moving their arms up and down; this method of beating time goes back at least to William Billings, a choir master and composer in Revolutionary-era Boston. Singers also mark time with their arms or (sometimes) with their tunebook. (b) The leaders stand in a "hollow square" with the four voice parts around them as follows: the leaders face the tenors, who carry the melody, and who may be either men or women; to the right of the tenors are the trebles, also both men and women, who sing a counter-melody; to the right of the trebles, across from the tenors, are the altos, mostly women but also men who can sing in the women's range; and between the altos and the tenors are the basses. (c) Mark is a new singer, so he has asked Lindy to assist him in leading; the tradition is very welcoming to new singers, and it's a great way to learn how to read music and sing four-part harmony. And you don't have to be a good singer to participate -- in this video, you can hear that there are some really good voices, and some not so good voices, and booth kinds of voice are fine.

One last thing to remember -- the point of this kind of singing is not performance, the point is participation. One old-time Sacred Harp singer put it this way: "I'd drive five hundred miles to *sing* Sacred Harp, but I wouldn't walk across the street to *listen* to it." The only way to truly experience Sacred Harp is to come sing with us.

To find a singing near you, visit and click on "Singings" in the navigation bar. If you're in the Bay area, we sing every Monday at 7:30 in All Saints Chapel, 2451 Ridge Rd., Berkeley (near the Cal campus); 1st Sundays at 1:00 in Healdsburg at the Felta Schoolhouse, Felta Rd.; 2nd Sundays in Palo Alto at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 E. Charleston Rd.; 3rd Sundays in San Francisco at 1:30 in St. Aidan's Church, 101 Gold Mine Dr.; 4th Sundays on the Peninsula in singer's homes; and 2nd and 4th Fridays in Davis at 7:00 p.m. See fasola.org/bayarea/ to confirm days, times, and locations.
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