Been All Around This World

Been All Around This World


S2 E3 - Singing from the Sacred Harp, 1928-1983

October 21, 2019

Sacred Harp -- the four-part shape-note singing tradition long confined to the American South, but recently enjoying remarkable international popularity and participation -- fascinated and challenged Lomax for most of his career. He recorded it multiple times, trying with increasing technological sophistication to capture its indelible magic. In this episode, we survey Alan's Sacred Harp recordings and the tradition's development, ethos, and survival.

Intro: United Sacred Harp Musical Association Convention: The Bower of Prayer (#100) (Fyffe, Alabama, October 1959)


1. Allison's Sacred Harp Singers: Weeping Pilgrim (417) (Gennett 6583, Richmond, Indiana, 1928)


2. Alabama Sacred Harp Singers: Present Joys (318) (Columbia 15272, Atlanta, Georgia, 1928)

Interstitial: Martha Woodard, Mission (204) (Gadsden, Alabama, June 1982)

3. Alabama Sacred Harp Singing Convention: Ballstown (217) (Jefferson County Courthouse, Birmingham, Alabama, August 1942)


4. United Sacred Harp Musical Association Convention: The Parting Hand (62) + Hallelujah (146) + Amazing Grace (45) (Fyffe, Alabama, October 1959)


Interstitial: Martha Woodard, Murillo's Lesson (358) (Gadsden, Alabama, June 1982)

5. Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers: How Long (Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C., August 1983) 


6. Holly Springs Sacred Harp Convention: Help Me to Sing (376) (Holly Springs Primitive Baptist Church, H.S., Georgia, June 1982*) 



7. Alan Lomax extemporizes on musico-historical dimensions of Sacred Harp, with Phil Summerlin and Buell Cobb (Holly Springs Primitive Baptist Church, H.S., Georgia, June 1982) 



*An egregious error of chronology was made in this episode: Lomax's last shape-note recordings were in fact of the Wiregrass singers in 1983, as the Holly Springs recording took place in the summer of 1982 and not 1983 as repeatedly stated. Apologies!