The Sacred Harp – Denson edition, 1991
The Sacred Harp tune book, first published in 1844, has been revised and re-published periodically ever since. It is also referred to as the Denson book or the ‘red book’. The latest edition, published in 1991, is the most popular of the four-shape tune books used in the USA and is used at almost all Sacred Harp singings in the UK.
The 1991 edition contains 554 sacred songs, hymns, odes and anthems and is widely used by the Sacred Harp community.
It can be obtained from Ian West Tel: 01952 882448
Current cost: £22 + £6 postage.
The Sacred Harp – Revised Cooper edition, 2012
The new 2012 Cooper edition is referred to as the Cooper Sacred Harp or blue book to distinguish it from the ‘Denson book’, or the ‘red book’. Initially published in 1902 by W M Cooper, it has been through several revisions, and was known as The B F White Sacred Harp between 1949 and 2006. Initially it was printed as Cooper’s own revision to the 4th Edition of the Sacred Harp, which had become out of print following the death of B F White in 1879.
The Cooper Edition of 2012 replaces these earlier versions, and has been massively overhauled and reset by Karen Willard. In so doing Karen has marginally increased its physical size, and removed all known musical and typographical errors. At the same time as resetting all the music, she has added missing lyrics and extra verses to 95 songs where space has permitted. Titling of songs has been brought into line with the Denson/1991 Sacred Harp, and the indexing revised. In total there are 612 songs. 12 of these are new, ten of which are by living composers.
The two editions have many songs in common although several have differing alto parts. The Cooper Edition contains many other mid- to late-nineteenth-century songs having a contrasting style of harmony to those in the Denson edition, as well as a number of ‘call-and-response songs’ and folk hymns. It is being used at a small, but growing, number of singings in the UK.
Not available directly in the UK. Can be ordered from the publisher in the USA.
The Christian Harmony, 2010 edition
The Christian Harmony by William Walker is a seven shape song book first published in 1866. The 2010 edition brings together the two editions that had been in use previously: the ‘Carolina’ or ‘Walker book,’ and the ‘Alabama ‘or ‘Deason book.’ The book has been newly typeset and uses the Aikin seven shape do-re-mi system.
In the UK it can be obtained from Werner Ullah.
Current cost: £38 + £4.00 postage.
Mailing to other European countries is possible, but contact first for postage cost.
The Shenandoah Harmony
A new four-shape songbook published in 2012.
The inspiration for The Shenandoah Harmony was to create a collection of the best songs published by Ananias Davisson from 1815 to 1825 in the Shenandoah Valley. These have been compiled with selections from the Southern Harmony, Christian Harmony, Social Harp and other diverse sources, as well as new compositions by contemporary singers.
Other shapenote books
These books are not used at all day singings or conventions in the UK, but may be of interest to singers.
- A selection of eight songs from The Easy Instructor – available from Steve Fletcher. £5 + postage.
- The New Harp of Columbia – available from The University of Tennessee Press.
- Northern Harmony – available from Steve Fletcher. £20 + £5.30 postage.
- The Norumbega Harmony – available from Steve Fletcher. £19 + £5.30 postage.
- Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition. Commemorative reprint of the 1911 Sacred Harp.
- The Social Harp – available from University of Georgia Press.
- The Southern Harmony – available from University Press of Kentucky.
- The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music – Buell Cobb.
- Like Cords Around My Heart: A Sacred Harp Memoir – Buell Cobb.
- The Makers of the Sacred Harp – David Warren Steel and Richard Hulan.
- Legacy of the Sacred Harp – Chloe Webb.