Category Archives: shapenote

Rose redemption.


Fantin-Latour rose

I think of my friend Nicole every day; this weekend by recalling her seasonal motto: “Memorial Day! When we honor our war dead by going to the beach.”

As I used to say, “I myself represent the decline of western civilization.” Well, if it’s All Gonna End Soon, all the more reason to take advantage of the beautiful days, right? Which I wish I were doing better. Can’t complain of Saturday morning, though. I walked up to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (free entry Saturdays before noon) to see the roses and peonies. Lots of giggling in the Cranford Rose Garden as visitors got sprinkled in succession by the rotating sprinklers, with our gratitude as it was HOT. The earliest old shrub roses were done but plenty of my historical favorites bloomed on, like the lovely Mme. Hardy with her flat white face and little green eye, and other damasks, centifolias (like Fantin-Latour, above), gallicas, albas, and spinossisimas. And many non-rose non-peony beauties as well.

We went out for drinks after Christian Harmony singing a couple of weeks ago, you know, the usual three hours of hymns, an hour in the bar. I told the bartender I wanted to try a new bourbon and he suggested something called Redemption. Of course! (“480, I think,” said Stina, meaning the page number of the song REDEMPTION.) It was tasty.


Some fun with hymn texts.

In case you’re curious about a thing or two in my shapenote world: I took some notes on our Midweek singing last week, with textual commentary from our two local theologians.

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A few little things I’ve collected.

1) [Roger Caillois] fell out with André Breton after a disagreement about the nature of the Mexican jumping bean.

2) The Sign of the Holy Lamb and Ink-bottle, at the East end of St Paul’s church.

3) A little “how came you so” — that is, drunk.

Also, if you want to see me lead THE FAITHFUL SOLDIER (ShH 174) in a hot happy room in the hills outside Nazareth (Pennsylvania): thanks, Bridget, and congratulations to Dan and Katy.

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The Streetsingers will be in Stuyvesant Square, near Second Avenue and 15th Street, from 2 to 4, and the East Village Sacred Harp singing runs from 3 to 6 at Jimmy’s No. 43, Second Avenue and 7th Street. So SH friends can hear my polyphonic self and RSS friends can come and sing the shapes afterward, if they want.

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Pilgrim time.

The lights were off in the bus, and my traveling companions and I all seated separately in the dark, and the roadside landscape hardly visible or worth seeing, and suddenly it was a good time to cry. Wait, I asked myself, is my sorrow valid? Yes, I said, it is.

The soundtrack: 275t, Loving-Kindness. My call at the Keystone Convention, from which I was traveling home. It was a great day, don’t get me wrong. More about that here. (The recording is from an unidentified Southern singing, and uses verses one & two; I called one & three, but I liked the slow pace of this version [and of mine].)

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New Year’s Eve, 2011

162 Plenary. “Still walking downward to the tomb / And yet prepared no more.” Sacred Harp’s paradoxical blend of cheer and despair. Happy 2012, everyone.

(From the first New Haven All-Day Singing, Oct. 2, 2011; courtesy


Word of the day. Two aspirin, and three hours of Sacred Harp.

Shapenote extravaganza.

New York All Day Singing is tomorrow, September 17, 2011; Singing School tonight, Third Sunday singing Sunday. Tonight and Saturday are at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, Sunday at Church of the Epiphany. Info, updates, random excitement at Squeaking & Grumbling, also here and here.

There could well be a hundred and fifty singers tomorrow. We will rattle the stained glass and lift the roof, and our spirits.

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New blog for shapenote activity in NYC

I created a new blog to house the notes I’ve been taking on what we’re calling at the local Sacred Harp singings. It’s here: Squeaking & Grumbling.

Somebody had better read it or I will become instantly discouraged and quit taking notes.

Long Island All-Day Singing, Saturday, Feb. 26

It’s not as easy as it should be to find out about Saturday’s all-day Sacred Harp singing in Rockville Centre.  It’ll run from 9:30 to 4:00 at St. Mark’s Methodist Church. Its website is hiding under “harp of voices;” find it here.  It will be the conclusion of a symposium that started yesterday on “Teaching the Harp of Many Voices,” organized by Tom Malone at Molloy College.  The symposium events take place at the college’s East Farmingdale location, and I hope to get out there tomorrow, Friday, for the final day of activities. I want to hear what Ian Quinn has to say about the raised sixth, and Rachel Hall says she’ll be calling for sung samples. (Just a note, I’m not sure that the published schedule is precisely accurate.)

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