Click for Ann Arbor, Michigan Forecast
Saturday May 27, 2017
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Print Comment E-mail

Ann Arbor Sacred Harp

 

continued

Sacred Harp songs are written in four "shape notes": "la" is a square, "fa" is a triangle, "sol" is a circle, and "mi" is a diamond. A scale sung using the shapes would go "fa, sol, la, fa, sol, la, mi, fa." When a particular hymn is called, the singers first sing it through using the shapes and then again with the words. If that sounds complicated, it is. The woman next to me whispered, "Don't worry about the shapes — just sing 'la' on everything if you want to." I did, and was right 25 percent of the time. It was a little easier with the words — so long as I didn't think about what I was singing.

This is dark stuff, penned during a time in which death was a part of daily life, earthly life was regarded as an uncomfortable way station to heaven, and faith explained everything, good and bad. Times are bad now too, I suppose, and there's comfort to be found in the more uplifting lyrics, but as I found myself loudly intoning things like "What is this that steals, that steals upon my frame? Is it death? Is it death?" my mind kept coming back to germ theory and antibiotics and the comforts therein. Songs like "World Unknown" ask, "Am I born to die? To lay this body down? And must my trembling spirit fly into a world unknown?" and made me realize afresh that there are some questions that are uniquely human, and asked across the ages.

Bookmark and Share
previous  ·  1 l 2 l 3 l 4  ·  next page
all on one page
read more stories here -> Marketplace  l  Culture  l  Community  l  News

You might also like:

Community Services - Jobs, Training and Finances
Another Reprieve for English Gardens
They'll be at Maple Village through year-end
Sally Mitani
Mamele
Molly Picon in a vanished world
Sandor Slomovits
Food And Markets in Saline
Agave Arrives
In a seamless transition from Sabor Latino
Terry Gallagher
The Trouble with EHR
Electronic health records have doctors working overtime.
Eve Silberman
Victoria Cendrowski
Rec & Ed's yoga queen
Shelley Daily
Gifts in Saline
Photo: Sunset at the new condos
Dave Sharp Worlds Quartet
Where jazz goes when it leaves home
Sally Mitani
Grillin' 2017 June 11th, 3-8pm - Ann Arbor MI
Greek Festival June 9-11, 2017
Grillin' 2017 June 11th, 3-8pm - Ann Arbor MI