Here are four favorite melodies I find myself coming back to time and again…  All four were published by Ananias Davisson in the Shenandoah Valley.  They’re all minor and seem, at least to me, similar to a lot of Irish tunes I heard growing up.  They’re also some of the more difficult songs in the book.  Dan and I made some rough recordings of just the tenors so you can hear them without the other parts.  We’ve chosen to sharp the sixth degree of the scale in all of these.


Mecklinburg is probably named for Mecklenburg County, Virginia, which is in the far south of the state.  Sarah Anderson Jones (1753-1794), the mystic Methodist poet who wrote the lyrics, lived all her life in the county and that may explain the title of the tune.  She was quite a character–I recommend reading Hartweg’s article All in Raptures HERE to find out more about her.  The tune is somewhat related to the Irish comic song “St. Patrick was a gentleman.”  It was first published by Davisson in A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony (1820).

PLAY Mecklinburg tenor

PLAY Mecklinburg all four parts


William Hauser, in page 296 of his seven-shape Olive Leaf (1878) writes in the raised sixth:




Our favorite version of Carmel comes from the seven-shape Sacred Melodeon; there’s more about the text at  The melody was first published by Davisson in A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony, ed.3 (1826) under the title Elysian Plain.

PLAY Carmel tenor

PLAY Carmel all four parts




THE iconic Davisson song.  It was first published in Davisson’s Kentucky Harmony, ed.2 (1817) and was popular in many later shapenote books, including The Southern Harmony and The Sacred Harp.

PLAY Solitude in the Grove tenor

PLAY Solitude in the Grove all four parts




Nobody seems to know much about this song, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful in the book…  The melody was first published by Davisson in A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony, ed.3 (1826).

PLAY Edenton



2 replies
  1. Jane Ferguson
    Jane Ferguson says:

    You’ve inspired me to look up Sarah Jones’s diary which is archived at William and Mary’s Swem Library. Some beautiful poetry in there!

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