The NSV double all day social will host a story telling event on Saturday evening, June 4. Boyce VA

In Memory of John Bayer, Jr.

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in All Categories, Composers, News, Songs | Comments Off on In Memory of John Bayer, Jr.

In Memory of John Bayer, Jr.

by Kelly Macklin

John Bayer, Jr. passed away on December 8, 2016 just over a year after the death of his wife, Loraine. They are survived by their children, Regina, Hans, and Jubal, and four grandchildren.

I first met John Bayer in September 1990 at the United Convention in Chicago (held for the first time out of the South!) My husband, John, and I were new singers and this was one of our first conventions. John Bayer was also a fairly new shape note singer, but I never realized that until much later, as he was a strong, vibrant and enthusiastic singer who seemed as though he had sung this music all his life. He was a bear of a man, with a beautiful, clear tenor who could be heard even in a crowd. He often slapped his book in time to encourage the class to sing out or pick up the tempo!

John singing at home, surrounded by Loraine, Hans, Jubal, and members of their singing community. Photo by Sheila Patterson.

The family were Anabaptist attending Old German Baptist Brethren Church. John was a man of strong faith and conviction. He held a belief in the frailty of people and their propensity to sin. I believe he wrestled with his dark side mightily. He expresses this in his compositions. He had strong opinions which he was not averse to share, but he also realized his sharp tongue could wound, for which he would humbly apologize. One might think we would have little in common, but in fact we did. We had long and enriching conversations about religion, philosophy, history, and morality, as well as music.

He composed numerous songs, in the shape note genre; eight (plus one arrangement) appear in The Shenandoah Harmony (2013) (the most of any modern composer) and twelve in The Missouri Harmony (2005). Judy Hauff frequently collaborated with John. She co-authored four of the nine tunes in The Shenandoah Harmony; she says in the 1990’s he flooded her with songs to harmonize or critique. He loved minor music and weighty themes. His compositions are unique and compelling, and highly singable. He found words which do not appear in other shape note books that I have used, and which are potent, arresting and well married to the music. He had an impressive knowledge of tunes, a hefty collection of songbooks and and was an invaluable source of information and advice to us when we were compiling of The Shenandoah Harmony

The songs display an amazing diversity. “Heck” is a paean to the farmer’s plight; any gardener will sympathize. “Okefenokee” is a lilting song with a powerful theme of good and evil. The very popular “Bowen” has a rousing chorus about family which always inspires a class. “Hymn of the Dunkers” is a sober, but vibrant call to prayer and praise. “Marcia” has lovely harmonies and extols the city of Jerusalem. “Harper’s Lament or Runie’s Farewell” is particularly poignant; it was written for a beloved, and warmly welcoming, elderly Southern singer who passed away. “Madness” is almost shocking in its theme, yet relevant today, though the verse was written by Isaac Watts in 1707. “Night of the Grave” is a haunting setting of James Beattie’s poem “The Hermit” (1780), which contrasts the temporary gloom of night or winter with the permanency of death. John also transcribed the powerful two-part “Symyadda” from the Sand Mountain oral tradition.

John and his family travelled to singings whenever they could get away from the duties and demands of their melon farm in Ohio. He managed to come to one of our early Northern Shenandoah Valley all day singings, a James River Convention in Richmond VA and the Keystone in Lancaster PA in 2013, in addition to many travels south and to Chicago and the Midwest. However, we often would find a way to visit John and his family at home in Ohio. My favorite memories are sitting with them all at the table and singing. All three of his children were enthusiastic and talented singers and to hear them together with familial blending was unbelievably satisfying. When The Shenandoah Harmony came out, we sang through it with them as they voiced their approval, critiqued or demanded more verses!

We will miss him mightily. He was a wonderful friend. I will think of him whenever we sing his songs, especially this; “Take your companion by the hand, and all your children in a band, and give them up at Jesus’ call to pardon, bless, and save them all.”

Kelly Macklin

Here is a playlist of John’s songs.

Did Lucius Chapin write the Amazing Grace tune?

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in All Categories, Composers, News, Songs | Comments Off on Did Lucius Chapin write the Amazing Grace tune?

The melody sung to John Newton’s 1779 hymn “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound” is, without a doubt, America’s best-loved hymn tune [1]. Unlike Lowell Mason’s “Nearer, my God, to thee,” the “Amazing grace” tune is of unknown origin. It first appeared in print in 1829 without any composer attribution, and there were thought to be no earlier surviving instances of the tune. However, an 1828 manuscript by Lucius Chapin (1760-1842), who was famous in his day as a hymn tune writer, raises the possibility that Lucius was its composer.

Lucius and his brother Amzi (1768-1835) were among the first and most influential composers to harmonize American folk hymns, using principles they had absorbed from New England and English church music, and perhaps from the oral tradition as well. They also composed hymns in a similar style. The brothers came from a large, musical Massachusetts family. Their mother was an exceptional singer, though she did not read music, and two of their brothers also became singing masters. Lucius and Amzi moved south and west as young men and taught singing schools throughout their lives. In 1828, Lucius was living in central Kentucky and Amzi in western Pennsylvania [2].

The 1828 manuscript was mentioned in passing in James Scholten’s 1972 dissertation on Lucius and Amzi Chapin. Scholten provided few details and seemed unaware of its significance. In page 87, Scholten wrote of Lucius’ son Cephas (1804-1828),

On July 25, 1828, [Cephas] died from typhus in Oxford, Ohio en route home to visit his parents. There are three tender expressions of paternal love and grief on the back of Cephas’ last letter penned there by Lucius, the tunes AMAZING GRACE and BRAINARD and a brief poem [2].

The familiar melody had a number of titles in its early publications: ST. MARY’S, GALLAHER, HARMONY GROVE (Shenandoah Harmony, p. 300), NEW BRITAIN (Sacred Harp, p. 45), and more. The one title it did not have was AMAZING GRACE, though that title was used for at least two other melodies. The tune wasn’t paired with Newton’s text until 1835. I was curious to see the manuscript, because neither John Newton’s hymn “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound” nor any of the tunes known for that text are associated with the Chapin family by modern scholars. However, the great nineteenth-century scholar W.E. Chute (1832-1900) attributed the melody to the Chapins, though his evidence is unknown.

I contacted Christine Engels of the Cincinnati Museum Center Library and Archives and she sent me a copy of the back of Cephas’ letter, reproduced here with permission. You can click on the image to see more detail. The date August 13, 1828 is visible in the lower right corner.

Music dated Aug 13, 1828 on the back of Cephas Chapin’s letter to Lucius Chapin

Since Lucius doesn’t name the tune on the left, I’m going to call it NEW BRITAIN, which is its most common name (hymn tune titles are traditionally written in capital letters). Here’s a closeup. Despite teaching shape notes for decades, Lucius never adopted them in his personal manuscripts.

The tune NEW BRITAIN written in Lucius’ hand

It is possible that NEW BRITAIN was added to the manuscript after 1828, or copied from a source that does not survive. However, the version here doesn’t exactly match any tune found, either published or in manuscript, in Nikos Pappas’ exhaustive index of over 60,000 early American hymn tunes (1700-1870) [3]. It is closest to the tune ST. MARY’S found in Shaw and Spilman’s Columbian Harmony (1829) [4]. Like Lucius, Shaw and Spilman lived in central Kentucky. More about that later.

Should we attribute the NEW BRITAIN tune to Lucius? Probably not. It is possible he composed it, but this isn’t like finding a Beethoven sonata written in Mozart’s handwriting, or even like finding NEW BRITAIN in Lowell Mason’s handwriting. Even if Lucius were the first to notate the tune, the concept of “authorship” in this repertoire is difficult. Composers felt free to write arrangements of popular sacred or secular melodies in oral tradition and publish them, either as unattributed tunes or with their own names attached. They also made their own versions of tunes in books or manuscripts, appropriated and rearranged European classical music, and composed music from scratch in a folk idiom [5].

Authorship as regards the Chapins is particularly difficult to pin down. The three most popular American folk hymns, TWENTY-FOURTH, NINETY-THIRD, and ROCKBRIDGE, are all ascribed to Amzi or Lucius (see The Sacred Harp, pages 47 and 31, and The Shenandoah Harmony, page 1, respectively) [3]. The brothers never published books, and the manuscripts that survive don’t clarify the situation. Lucius and Amzi most probably composed harmony parts, but we don’t know to what extent they “wrote” the tunes.

The other tune on Cephas’ letter, BRAINARD, gives some tantalizing clues to Lucius’ musical process. It is a folk hymn most often called INDIAN’S FAREWELL or PARTING FRIENDS (see page 271 of The Shenandoah Harmony). In this case, there are several published versions prior to 1828, though none match Lucius’ tune exactly [3]. What’s interesting here is the fact that Lucius appears to be making a transcription. He writes the tune twice, using two different rhythms and time signatures. He mistakenly writes “6/8” as the time signature for both versions, and the first version has an incomplete measure. In all the published sources, the first note is on the downbeat, not a pickup, as it is here. After viewing the letter in person, I believe that Lucius was also transcribing NEW BRITAIN, as there are scrape marks where he corrected mistakes.

The tune BRAINARD or BRAINERD and the text “When shall we thus meet again”

Why did Lucius write these particular tunes on the letter, presumably thinking of his son? INDIAN’S FAREWELL was usually coupled with the text “When shall we all meet again” by Anna Jane Vardill (1807). (Although Vardill wrote the poem in the persona of “Casmerian” (Kashmiri) Indian, it was spuriously associated with both Native Americans and missionaries, and perhaps Lucius’ title refers to David Brainerd, a well known missionary to the Indians.) Lucius writes a different text, however—one more tender, and one associated with the death of a child:

When shall we thus meet again (repeated)
When the dreary winter’s past,
When is hushed the northern blast,
When new verdure clothes the plain,
Then may we thus meet again.

This entire poem appears in Daniel Huntington’s 1838 memoir of his daughter Mary, who died in 1820 at the age of six. On page 43, Huntington writes that he composed the poem for her Sunday school class in 1819. It was published in the newspaper Boston Recorder in that year and somehow it made its way into Lucius’ hands. (If the beginnings of Vardill and Huntington’s texts seem familiar, it’s because they were inspired by the opening lines of Macbeth.)

What text or texts might Lucius have associated with NEW BRITAIN? Texts and tunes usually had an independent existence in this period. The two texts used in Columbian Harmony (1829) are Charles Wesley’s “Come, let us join our friends above” and Isaac Watts’ “Arise my soul, my joyful pow’rs.” Of those two, “Come, let us join” is closest thematically to “When shall we thus meet again.” It is one that Sacred Harp singers today associate with memorials, though we sing a different tune, ARNOLD, to these words:

Come, let us join our friends above,
That have obtain’d the prize;
And on the eagle’s wings of love,
To joy celestial rise.

If Lucius didn’t compose NEW BRITAIN, then who did? The basic structure of the tune is ancient. NEW BRITAIN is a folk hymn—a sacred melody that existed, in some form, in oral tradition prior to being notated. It belongs to a recognized “tune family,” or group of tunes, sacred or secular, that share enough structure and melodic phrases that they seem to be descended from a common root. Other related tunes include Amzi Chapin’s TWENTY-FOURTH (written in the 1790s) and, more distantly, the African-American spiritual “Swing low, sweet chariot” (published in 1873, but definitely older). The folk hymn CONSOLATION (attributed to the Chapins when first published in 1812) has the same contour, but is in the minor mode. Though clearly different melodies, all four tunes share the same four-phrase structure, with first phrase ending on the fifth below the tonic, the second phrase ascending to the fifth above, the third phrase descending from there down an octave, and the final phrase ascending to the third before returning to the tonic. All four of these tunes remain in print in multiple modern hymnals.

However, just because a tune is a folk hymn doesn’t mean that there wasn’t an originator for a particular variant of the tune family. There were at least ten slightly different versions of NEW BRITAIN written down from 1828 to 1840 in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina [3]. Three of these were from central Kentucky. This argues for oral transmission, but the fact that each version differs from the others only in the amount of ornamentation notated suggests that one person, perhaps an itinerant preacher or singing master, was the “vector” that spread the tune through this area in the late 1820s to 1830s.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Lucius’ version was closest to ST. MARY’S in Shaw and Spilman’s 1829 Columbian Harmony. There may have been a closer connection between Charles Spilman, Benjamin Shaw, and Cephas Chapin. Charles and Cephas were born within a year of each other and both were Presbyterians. In 1828, Charles and Benjamin were at Centre College in Danville, about 90 miles from the Chapin family.  Though Cephas was in Alabama prior to his death, he had previously been teaching singing school in Kentucky and stated in a letter that he had entered Centre College, although he didn’t graduate. Cephas’ letters say he participated in a revival there in 1826. Did Charles and Benjamin learn the tune from Cephas? Or vice versa? Or was this tune commonly known at Centre College?

This possible connection raises the question of whether Lucius (or Cephas) wrote the arrangement of ST. MARY’S in Columbian Harmony. There are some aspects of the harmony—the four-part setting, and the variety of chords—that are found in the Chapin arrangements. However, the static treble (top line) and bass, the narrow, high range of the treble in relation to the melody (tenor), the use of parallel thirds, and the dominant seventh chord before the final note all argue against Lucius as arranger. As for Cephas, we have no record that he composed or arranged music.

What, if anything, does this manuscript add to the story of “Amazing Grace”? It’s fascinating that there is a direct connection between America’s best-loved hymn tune and our “first family” of sacred folk song. I could speculate endlessly on where Lucius learned the melody, or whether he composed this variant of the tune family. However, the one thing certain is that he wrote the tune on the back of the last letter he ever received from his son. The tune must have had emotional significance for him, and perhaps provided some consolation. In that, he would not be alone.


Another interesting story, though tangential, is the Chapin family’s connection to the antislavery movement. If you’ve read the story of John Newton (the author of the words to “Amazing Grace”) or seen the Broadway play, you’ll know that he was the captain of a slave ship who later rejected his past and advocated against slavery. The Chapin family lived in central Kentucky and some of their neighbors owned slaves, though there weren’t large plantations in the area. However, the diary of Cephas’ sister Harriet survives, and she was profoundly antislavery, though as a woman she didn’t have power to make decisions about her household. She thanks God that her father is “an Emancipator.” I don’t know if that means that he had slaves and set them free or if he didn’t believe in slavery and never owned slaves (I think the latter). Harriet considered it her duty to educate the two young African-Americans who worked for the family, an act that would have been illegal in many states. Harriet died in 1827, just a year before Cephas—a fact that must have made Cephas’ death even more difficult for their parents.

In general, the early revivals in Kentucky were far more democratic than were churches later in the 19th century. Both white women and African-Americans—even slaves—were called on to testify and even preach, and everyone participated in group singing, which was one of the hallmarks of these revivals. So the fact that this particular tune, whoever wrote it, is often associated with black spirituals and related to “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” is not surprising, as it was first popular in a mixed environment.


I found a poem about Cephas’ death and obituary online.


I would like to thank Christine Engels of the Cincinnati Museum Center Library and Archives for her assistance in locating the Chapin letter, the Museum Center for permission to post images, and Nikos Pappas of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa for his willingness to share his invaluable research in documenting American sacred music.


[1] Steve Turner, Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song (New York: Harper Collins, 2002).

[2] James Scholten, “The Chapins; a study of men and sacred music west of the Alleghenies, 1795-1842” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1972).

[3] Nikos Pappas, Southern and Western American Sacred Music and Influential Sources (1700-1870). Database, 2015.

[4] Benjamin Shaw and Charles H. Spilman, Columbian Harmony, or, Pilgrim’s Musical Companion (Cincinnati: Lodge, L’Hommedieu & Hammond, 1829).

[5] Nikos Pappas, “Patterns in the Sacred Music Culture of the American South and West (1700-1820)” (PhD diss., University of Kentucky, 2013).


Download the demo Shenandoah packet

Posted by on Apr 29, 2012 in All Categories, Downloads, News, Songs | 5 comments

Here is our 84-page preview of the Shenandoah Harmony.  We sang from it at the NSV All-Day Singing in Millwood, Virginia, June 3, 2012.

You are welcome to make multiple paper copies of this packet.  However, please do not post it on a web site.

Questions?  Please read my post explaining our editorial policy.

If you’re planning to view this on a tablet or phone, you’ll probably prefer the ebook version.

Download (ShenandoahHarmonyPreview.pdf, PDF, 4.66MB)

Holyoke Range All-Day 2014 Recordings

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in All Categories, Downloads, News, Recordings | Comments Off on Holyoke Range All-Day 2014 Recordings

We had a wonderful time singing in Massachusetts on Saturday, May 3.  Thanks to everyone involved, and, in particular, Cheri Hardy for chairing the singing and the Western Massachusetts community for your warm hospitality! Minutes for the singing are on our Minutes page.

Some of these tracks are rough, but we’re including them for study purposes. The first and last sessions are the strongest.



In Bethlehem City Christmas CD

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in All Categories, Downloads, News, Recordings | Comments Off on In Bethlehem City Christmas CD

bethlehemcityWe had a wonderful weekend at the Lehigh Valley All-Day Shenandoah Singing!  Not surprisingly, a lot of the Christmas songs in our book—in fact, almost all of them—were sung at some point during the weekend.  I’ve put together a Christmas playlist and downloadable CD, “In Bethlehem City.”  Enjoy!  You are welcome to burn CDs for yourself and others.

These tracks are a combination of the large group singing on Saturday and the brunch singing at Dan’s farm on Sunday.  Due to travel plans and the snow and ice storm that struck Sunday afternoon, our numbers dwindled down to five singers by the end of the day.  I’ve added a few Christmas songs from previous singings, plus a solo recording of Tollie Lee from his NSV workshop earlier in the year.  There’s also a special treat—the first ever recording of James P. Carrell’s CHRISTMAS ANTHEM from Songs of Zion, which I discovered earlier this year.

We’d like to thank all the singers who participated in these singings and the folks who organized the weekend and kept us all warm, happy, and well fed.  We’d also like to remember all our friends who were with us in spirit only.  We miss you.

We’d also like to recognize the following composers and arrangers of songs in this playlist:

  • John Brode for his arrangement of the traditional West Gallery SHEPHERDS ARISE (2012)
  • Bruce Randall for FREWSBURGH (2011)
  • The Glen Rock Carolers of Glen Rock, Pa. for letting us use their traditional English-American version of HARK, HARK (© 2012 but dates to the 1840s or earlier)
  • James P. Page for WABASH (1988), his arrangement of an air from Commuck’s Indian Melodies (1845), set to a text by Samuel Longfellow (1864).

Printable Track List for CD: In Bethlehem City

[wpdm_package id=2216]

Burning to an audio CD:  First, unpack the ZIP file—this should happen automatically when you try to open it.  If you have iTunes, drag the mp3s to your iTunes.  Then select the album in the player, make sure it is ordered by track number, and choose “Burn to Disk.”  In iTunes, you’re asked if you want an audio CD.  I don’t have Windows Media Player but I imagine it’s similar—I’ll try to find instructions.

STREAMING PLAYLIST (or use SoundCloud)

[mp3-jplayer tracks=”FEED:/mp3/InBethlehemCity” captions=”In Bethlehem City” width=”60″ dload=”y”]

Shenandoah sampler discs

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in Downloads, News, Recordings | Comments Off on Shenandoah sampler discs

diy CD

DIY ShH Disc

We’ve had numerous requests to make some sampler CDs for folks who want to get started with the book.  All these tracks are also available for free download on our web site.  They’re rough “field recordings” of various singings and only intended for teaching purposes.  Here’s how it works:

  • Where possible, we’ll try to have some CDs available at singings. Donations to cover our costs are appreciated.
  • If you’d like to make your own, you can download the whole disc as one zip file, import the songs into a program such as iTunes or Windows Media Player, order the tracks by track number, and burn an audio disc.  There are printable track lists to go with the discs.
  • If you’d like to make CDs for other singers too, you are welcome to do so, and you may take donations to cover your costs.
  • If you prefer to play the tracks streaming online, they are available at the bottom of this page.  Don’t forget that many of our recordings are also on our YouTube channel.


This discs represents some favorite songs from the first six months of singing (see our Minutes).  If you go to a Shenandoah all-day singing, you can expect many, if not most, of these songs to be called.  There are two long fugues here (Sinai and Pennsylvania). These are ones that we’ve been singing for more than a year from the sampler packet.  This disc also contains a good number of slow songs.

Print track list:  Playlist (PDF)

[wpdm_package id=2211]


We’ve added the best of our recordings that are not included in Disc 1.  Quite a few of these came from our book launch in Cork, Ireland, where we had an especially fine class.  All of our 30 most popular songs–and most of our top 50 songs–are represented in Discs 1 and 2.  There are four Christmas songs here, if you’re looking…

Print track list: Playlist (PDF)

[wpdm_package id=2212]

DISC 3: IN BETHLEHEM CITY: Christmas Songs from The Shenandoah Harmony

You can download and listen to this CD here.

Streaming playlists


The code before each track name (like “ShH 157”) gives the page number in the book. To download a song, start it playing and right-click on “DOWNLOAD MP3.”

[mp3-jplayer tracks=”FEED:/mp3/ShH_sampler_1″ captions=”Disc 1: Getting Started” width=”60″ dload=”y”]


[mp3-jplayer tracks=”FEED:/mp3/ShH_sampler_2″ captions=”Disc 2: More Favorites” width=”60″ dload=”y”]


[mp3-jplayer tracks=”FEED:/mp3/InBethlehemCity” captions=”Disc 3: In Bethlehem City” width=”60″ dload=”y”]

Long-lost Shenandoah tunebook found

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in All Categories, Composers, News, Songs, Sources | 2 comments

It’s rare to discover lost shape-note songs, let alone entire books, so I was completely floored to find that a copy of the long-lost James P. Carrell’s Songs of Zion (1821) was recently cataloged by the University of Virginia. Songs of Zion is a 64-page collection of shape-note tunes published by Ananias Davisson one year after his A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony.  Unlike A Supplement and most other contemporary shape-note tunebooks, which contain folk hymn arrangements and compositions by several people, Songs of Zion claims to consist almost entirely of Carrell’s own arrangements or compositions.  It gives us a rare opportunity to study one Shenandoah Valley composer in depth.  As I understand it, the last known copy of Songs of Zion belonged to W. E. Chute, who died in 1900, so many of these songs have gone unsung for more than a century.  See UPDATE below.

Thanks to some legwork by our friend John Alexander, we’ve now been able to view the entire book (except for the final two pages, which are missing) and several of us on the music committee have sung through a good portion of the songs–enough to appreciate that there are some appealing and unusual pieces.  The book is now freely available online HERE through UVA’s web site.  We also are planning to publish a small critical edition of Songs of Zion, together with essays about Carrell’s musical style, intended both for singers and scholars.

Here are a few highlights.  I’m assuming in this writeup that all of the songs in the book except the one he attributes to someone else are composed or arranged by Carrell.  Unless we can find them in prior manuscripts it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to establish authorship definitively, however.

Here’s a transcription of the title page:









Is any merry? let him sing Psalms– James V, XIII.


Printed by A. Davisson Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia.  Where on Application Music Printing

of every Description will be executed with neatness and despatch.


William Hauser, the compiler of the Hesperian Harp (1848), had access to Songs of Zion, or perhaps W. E. Chute sent him songs from the book (the two corresponded).  The following arrangements in the Hesperian Harp are taken almost note-for-note from Songs of Zion.  Click on the song title to see the page in the Hesperian Harp, courtesy of Berkley Moore’s site.  Thanks also to Nikos Pappas, who found a few I had overlooked.

  • Angels Songs – arrangement of a Scottish melody called “The Lea Rig.”
  • Attention (called Lovest Thou Me by Hauser)
  • Broomsgrove (called Jesus Crucified by Hauser; the original text is “Lamb of God for sinners slain.”)
  • Calvary New
  • Elevation
  • Elysian (and page 2) This is basically the arrangement in The Sacred Harp, but with the original alto.  The melody is a traditional Irish one associated with Moore’s poem “The Minstrel Boy.”
  • Geneva
  • Melody – though the alto is not original to Carrell
  • Messiah – as in The Sacred Harp
  • Missionary – Hauser’s Eden has the same treble and tenor, but the bass is different and the alto is added.  In addition, Carrell’s text is “How firm a foundation.”
  • Mourner
  • Passover
  • Patmos (called Isle of Patmos by Hauser)
  • Pilgrim (called Anticipation by Hauser; a relative of Child of Grace)
  • Portsmouth
  • Solemn Thought – the match here is not exact – Hauser edited the bass part somewhat to avoid the lowest notes.  Carrell’s bass part is most like the Southern Harmony version. Davisson rewrote Carrell’s bass part in A Supplement, 2nd ed., and changed the treble slightly. The arrangement in The Shenandoah Harmony, page 34, is Davisson’s.

Someone associated with William Walker, probably F. Price, may have had a copy of Songs of Zion.  Here are arrangements published by Walker that are close matches to Carrell’s book:

  • Shepherd in the Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist
  • Elevation, ditto (Carrell’s alto is missing and the song is in 6/4 rather than 6/8)
  • Christian Soldier in Southern Harmony, though attributed to F. Price by Walker.  There are a couple of bass note differences but otherwise it’s the same arrangement.  This song is also in three parts in Songs of Zion.  The alto in The Christian Harmony and The Sacred Harp was added by Walker in 1866.
  • Delight in Southern Harmony is Carrell’s Broomsgrove without the alto and with the text “Vain, delusive world adieu.”
  • Solemn Thought in Southern Harmony, also attributed to Price.  See the note above.

W. E. Chute, the most thorough nineteenth-century scholar of this music, traces the first printing of several folk hymns to Songs of Zion in his handwritten comments on several books.  The songs that Chute attributes to “Carrell, 1821” in his marginal comments on the Knoxville Harmony and the Olive Leaf are

Knoxville Harmony

  • CHILD OF GRACE / PILGRIM  – though he also ascribes this to “Robertson, 1813” – he must be referring to FIDUCIA with the Robertson reference.  See my comments on PILGRIM above.
  • MESSIAH – clearly
  • SOLEMN THOUGHT – he writes “Carrell & Davisson, from Ingalls.”  The Ingalls version is called HONOR TO THE HILLS.
  • MELODY – this is the one in the Hesperian Harp that I referenced
  • COLUMBIA – I would give the earliest printing of this minor Blackbird variant to Alexander Johnson, 1818, but perhaps Chute didn’t have the Tennessee Harmony.  But there is a similar melody in Songs of Zion so this attribution makes sense

Olive Leaf

  • NEW BRISTOL – this is the same melody as CHILD OF GRACE / PILGRIM
  • ALDRED – this is ELEVATION in Songs of Zion
  • CUMBERLAND – this is BELLEVUE or HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION.  The closest melody in Songs of Zion is called NEW MARKET, to the text “My God, I am thine, what a comfort divine.” However, the match is not particularly close – really a stretch, in fact.
  • RESTORATION – also somewhat of a stretch.  There’s a melody called JEWIN STREET in SZ that is related.  It’s almost identical to the melody of BROWNSVILLE in Hesperian Harp  Carrell uses the “come thou fount” text.

As we get more chances to sing from Songs of Zion we’ll have a better sense of Carrell as a composer.  Like James C. Lowry, who was also an associate of Davisson, he experimented with arrangements of folk tunes and longer class songs, including a Christmas Anthem.

UPDATES from fasola-discussions

Richard Hulan pointed me to Irving Lowens’ intro to the 1976 reprint of Kentucky Harmony by Da Capo Press (p. 10), in which he says “Although James P. Carrell’s Songs of Zion was printed by Davisson in Harrisonburg in 1821 and, as would be reasonable to expect, was strongly influenced by the Kentucky Harmony, it is, in fact surprisingly individualistic.”  So Lowens must have seen a copy, perhaps the one at UVA now, since Lowens lived in Virginia.

Berkley Moore brought up the fact that Harmony Grove (also called New Britain, the melody now associated with Amazing Grace) in Clayton & Carrell’s Virginia Harmony.  It’s not in Songs of Zion.  The earliest printing of this melody known is in Shaw and Spilman’s Columbian Harmony, 1829.

Dick also mentioned that other tunebooks cite Carrell as a source for a few other melodies.

In addition to MILBURN PORT, an English tune (HTI #5314b) attributed to “Mr. Dyer’s Collection,” there is one unattributed song that is clearly an arrangement of a song that Carrell did not write: TRIUMPH is PEBMARSH (HTI #13068) by Burkill and also published by Dyer. The bass is the same, but the treble and alto are completely different; the fuge is removed in favor of an antiphonal section.

Morgan’s Judgment Anthem, newly typeset

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in All Categories, Composers, Downloads, News, Songs | Comments Off on Morgan’s Judgment Anthem, newly typeset

judgment_picUPDATE: Our friends Becky, Leland, Cheri, and Ivy in Northampton recorded JUDGMENT ANTHEM! You can hear and download it from Soundcloud.

I just completed a new shape-note edition of Justin Morgan’s JUDGMENT ANTHEM, available for download here. It’s a real choral showpiece, with multiple key changes and solo sections.  Asahel Benham first published JUDGMENT ANTHEM in his Federal Harmony in 1790.  It was the first anthem ever published in shapes, appearing in the first shape-note book, Little and Smith’s Easy Instructor (1801), and continued to be popular among early shape-note publishers, including Davisson and his contemporaries.  It appeared in Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (1813), Davisson’s Kentucky Harmony (1816), Carden’s Missouri Harmony (1820), Moore’s Columbian Harmony (1825), and several other books.

Whether by accident or design, Little and Smith changed the anthem in several significant ways, and these changes were copied in all the subsequent shape-note printings that I’ve seen.  In addition to my goal of producing a modern typeset version on a minimal number of pages (10), I also aimed to restore the original 1790 version of the piece as best as possible, with the addition of shaped notes.  I’ve listed my editorial changes on the last page.

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To get a sense of the JUDGMENT ANTHEM in popular culture, read this selection from Gerald Stanley Lee’s Mount Tom: An All Outdoors Magazine, 1906.  (This whole essay is a satirical account of the “wars” over church music at the time–definitely worth a read!)


NSV All-Day Singing 2013: Recordings and Photos

Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in All Categories, Downloads, News, Recordings | Comments Off on NSV All-Day Singing 2013: Recordings and Photos

Thank you so much to everyone who made our first all-day singing a huge success!

You might enjoy this flickr album from our friend Jessica Keyes (@prairieskygal).  Minutes of the singing are HERE ( and HERE, starting on row 949.


Here are a few highlights, starting with Dan leading 314b Transport:

Videos (see below for audio recordings)

First morning session

YouTube playlist (40 min)

Second morning session

YouTube playlist (41 min)

Third morning session

YouTube playlist (42 min)

First afternoon session

YouTube playlist (50 min)

Second afternoon session

YouTube playlist (52 min)

Audio Recordings



The Electronic Edition

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in All Categories, eBook, News | 3 comments

page size on an iPad and the print book

page size on an iPad and the print book

The entire Shenandoah Harmony is available as a hyperlinked PDF for $12 or the equivalent in your currency. The eBook has a fuller bibliography and 35 additional pages of indices:

  • Index of Composers and Arrangers (with songs titles)
  • Source Index (with bibliographic information, song titles, and page numbers in the source)
  • Chronological Index of Songs
  • Index of Texts, by Author
  • Metrical Index
  • Index of Fugue Entrances
  • Index of Choruses
  • Two- and Three-Part Songs

You may install your eBook on any device belonging to you and store it “in the cloud” in your private accounts.  If you are not sure whether the eBook will work on your device, please download the free demo edition and try it out HERE.  Directions are HERE.

To purchase an eBook, please fill out THIS FORM and then pay for your book either via PayPal or by sending a check for $12 made out to the Shenandoah Harmony Publishing Company, 2336 Salem Church Road Boyce, Virginia 23223.

Shenandoah Harmony electronic edition  

EBooks are individually customized.  Please allow three days for us to process your order after we have received your payment. We will deliver via Google drive file sharing unless you prefer another method.


Please note: All proceeds from the sales of The Shenandoah Harmony are being used to subsidize travel to workshops and singings, to compensate contributors for their time and expenses, and to fund future publications. Illegal sharing of the electronic book will limit the ability of the publishing company to continue these projects.


  • We recommend using Adobe Reader or any PDF Reader that allows you to type in a page number and follow hyperlinks.
  • All blue text is hyperlinked.  On a touch screen, you may have to magnify the page to get the hyperlinks to work. On most pages, clicking on the page number takes you to the Table of Contents.
  • The eBook has been arranged with the songs first so you can easily go to a song by typing in its page number. To get started, follow the link on the first page to the Table of Contents.  Please read the Terms of Use.  You can also follow links from the Table of Contents to the title page and all the indices.
  • You can navigate to a song either by entering its page number directly (if your viewer permits) or through the indices, by following the hyperlinks to the song’s page. Depending on the size of your device’s screen, you may have to magnify the page or use a stylus to make the links work, as they are small.
  • Most PDF readers have a feature that shows bookmarks for the file and these also take you to the various indices.
  • You may also add your own comments and bookmarks to the eBook – for example, bookmarking titles of songs you like – if you have a PDF reader that allows this.
  • Shape-note music has some features that may be unfamiliar if you have not attended a shape-note singing. In particular, the melody is in the tenor line, not the top line of the staff. You can read more in the section “How to Sing from This Book.”