The Philadelphia singers and friends gathered on Saturday, November 12th, 2016, for an afternoon of singing, learning to key, and visiting historic sites related to shape-note music publishing in Philadelphia.
12:30-3:30 Singing and Singing School
Singers often think of keying as a “mysterious art,” as Ian Quinn of New Haven writes in a 2013 article on Sacred Harp keying. However, it is not impossible to learn. There are tips and practices that can help singers learn to key or improve their keying skills.
4:00-5:30 Shape-note History Tour, 322 Market St.
John Connelly invented the commonly used four-shape shape-note system here in the 1790s and Philadelphia played a large role in shape-note printing through the 1870s. Notable publishers include the firms of T.K. & P.G. Collins, who published The Sacred Harp, and E.W. Miller, who published The Christian Harmony.
Rachel Hall of Philadelphia gave a tour of sites related to publishing shape-note music in the nineteenth century. We met at the Franklin Court archway, 322 Market St., part of an eighteenth-century structure that incorporates remnants of Ben Franklin’s print shop. The Franklin Court Printing Office frequently gives demonstrations of 18th-century printing techniques.
Mathew Carey, a former employee of Franklin’s, published Andrew Adgate’s Philadelphia Harmony, which contained early printings of some familiar Sacred Harp songs (189, 193, 222, and more). Carey’s shop, which was a few doors down from Franklin’s, was listed at 118 Market (328 Market in today’s numbering system), the location of a modern building housing Fox29 news.
We ducked into S. Bodine St, the former Biddle’s Alley, birthplace of Tillinghast K. Collins (1802-1870), one of the publishers of The Sacred Harp. It’s just possible that his house still stands, being part of a number of small houses incorporated into a larger building.
Our next stop was the site of the northeast corner of Sixth and Minor Streets, one of the locations of the Collins’ family’s offices where The Sacred Harp was available for sale. Samuel C. Collins, Tillinghast’s son, had a bookshop there. All the buildings in the 500 block between Market and Chestnut were torn down in the 1950s to make way for Independence Mall. Collins’ shop would have been more or less where the Liberty Bell is now on display.
The most significant sites for shape-note publishing in Philadelphia were T.K. & P.G. Collins’ factory at 705-707 Ranstead Street and E.W. Miller’s Bible and Publishing House at 1102 & 1104 Sansom Street. Collins published The Sacred Harp, The Hesperian Harp, The Social Harp, The Sacred Melodeon, and some editions of The Southern Harmony. Miller published The Southern Harmony and The Christian Harmony. Although neither building survives, both are well documented in maps (see PhillyGeoHistory), first-hand accounts, illustrations, and even a photograph.
An 1852 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book has a fascinating description of a visit to the Collins’ brothers’ type foundry and printing factory. The Sacred Harp was probably printed there. It’s not clear whether the typesetting was done in-house.
The above picture from Godey’s shows the view through the courtyard to Jayne St (now Ranstead).
At left is the front of the building, from Illustrated Philadelphia (1889).
A photo of Jayne/Ranstead from Seventh Street is at the Philadelphia Free Library site. You can zoom in to see the Collins & M’Leester type foundry sign. The building on the southwest corner is the only one that survives.
We sung the song “Behold the Lamb of God” in T.K. Collins’ honor. William Hauser arranged it for his Hesperian Harp and it was also published in William Walker’s Southern Harmony.
The sun was setting, so we didn’t get to see the site of Miller’s Bible and Publishing House at the top floors of the Ashmead Building at Sansom & 11th (the building is gone). There is a detailed plan and description of the factory made for insurance purposes at the Free Library’s site. William Walker’s Southern Harmony and Christian Harmony were published there.
We stopped on Jeweler’s Row to visit 710 Sansom St., the only surviving building associated with Philadelphia shape-note publishing. Ironically, it may be soon demolished. J.M. Armstrong & Co. Music Typographers set type for Ruebush-Kieffer of Virginia and other shape note publications. It’s possible that Armstrong set some (all?) of the earlier shape note books for Collins and/or Miller. Here is a description of how music type was set. This process, known as mosaic typography, was used for shape note books published in Philadelphia.
Right-click on the track title and choose “Save as” to download the song.
Come learn about and participate in community singing!
Sacred harp, or shape-note singing descends from the singing-school movement of the 1700s and has been practiced continuously since then. The music is powerful and lively. Although the songs we sing are traditionally Christian, shape-note singing is not associated with any church or denomination. We don’t preach and we welcome all people of all faiths—or none.
You are invited to St Mary’s Church Hamilton Village, 3916 Locust Walk on the UPenn campus, on Sunday September 13, 5:00-8:30 pm, for a good old-fashioned shape-note singing school and community supper. We’ll go over the basics of notes and rhythms and get practice leading songs. There will be plenty of singing, and we’ll teach the parts! Experience reading music is not required. All are welcome and songbooks will be available to borrow or purchase. The school is free. Please bring a potluck dish to share for the community supper if you are able.
Please study the map. It’s a little tricky to find – you have to go around the building to the cloister door. Please ring the bell in our “Philly Shape Note” sign. Contact: Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-605-1621.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From I-76 East or West, take Exit 346A – South Street, which is a LEFT exit. Turn away from Center City and continue on Spruce Street. Turn right on 38th St, left on Walnut, left on 40th, and left on Irving. Street parking is free. There is free parking after 4:30pm in front of the church and also a few spots on the far side of the church.
☞ The melody of the song is the third line, or tenor, which is sung by both men and women.
☞ The shaped notes are an invention intended to make it easier to learn to read music.
☞ Here’s a recording of this song from our Keystone Convention. The song was featured in the movie Cold Mountain.
There were 205 songs led at the 2015 convention by 120 leaders. Of the songs, 143 were major and 62 minor. There were 200 unique songs and 5 duplicates.
Ben Cocchiaro – 84 Amsterdam
Lamar Matthew – 35 Saints Bound For Heaven
Doug Kurtz – 535 Shawmut
Kirsten Jensen – 85 The Morning Trumpet
Barbara Hohenstein – 232 Baptismal Anthem
Ben Fink – 383 Eternal Day
Mairi Quodomine – 478 My Rising Sun
Joshua Barnett – 336 Eternal Home
Michael Sensor – 162 Plenary
Buck Wanner – 81t Beach Spring
Nancy Mandel – 70b Save, Mighty Lord
Gerald Clark – 504 Wood Street
Lynne deBenedette – 36b Ninety-Fifth
Matt Roberts – 542 I’ll Seek His Blessings
Liz Cantrell – 269 Bear Creek
Jon Giles – 511 The Great Redeemer
Gerry Hoffman – 315 Immensity
Cheri Hardy – 47t Primrose
Claire Steiner – 472 Akin
Myles Louis Dakan – 300 Calvary
Nancy Britton – 173 Phoebus
Brian How – 143 Pleyel’s Hymn
John D delRe – 71 Leander
Erin Kelly – 309 Living Lamb
Sophie Soloway – 196 Alabama
Lindsay Kruse – 61 Sweet Rivers
Cora Wareh – 212 Sharon
Lucas Husted – 78 Stafford
Wendy Sibbison – 30t Love Divine
Philippa Stoddard – 548 Wootten
Mary Andrews – 176b Blooming Youth
Graham DeZarn – 539 Supplication
Katie White – 547 Granville
Linda Shea – 475 A Thankful Heart
Paula Picton – 474 Mount Desert
Rachel Speer – 53 Jerusalem
Ben Sachs-Hamilton – 91 Assurance
Dan Hunter – 388 The Happy Sailor
Elizabeth Stoddard – 367 Consolation
Liora O’Donnell Goldensher – 419 Melancholy Day
Dan Coppock – 362 Norwich
Jesse Polhemus – 24b The Young Convert
Molly Merrett – 406 New Harmony
Kelly Macklin – 487 Soldier’s Delight
Mason Shefa – 135 Olney
Anya Skibbie – 340 Odem
Jason Steidl – 40 Lenox
Faiz Wareh – 456 Sacred Mount
Emily Hale-Sills – 270 Confidence
Michael Nord – 298 Providence
Robert Stoddard – 567 The Great Day
Gwen Gethner – 195 Worcester
John Plunkett – 492 Invocation
Tarik Wareh – 185 Pilgrim’s Farewell
Christine Andrews – 328 Praise God
Ruth Wampler – 207 Louisiana
Micah John Walter – 426b Jasper
David Brodeur – 216 Delight
Marilyn Murata – 274t The Golden Harp
Anna Leigh Smith – 148 Jefferson
Thom Fahrbach – 517 Mars Hill
Kate Fortin – 436 Morning Sun
Mike Hinton – 532 Peace and Joy
Nora Miller – 564 Zion
Mike Richards – 76b Desire For Piety
Sasha Hsuczyk – 330t Horton
Alec Jenkins-White – 282 I’m Going Home
Chris Coughlin – 227 Ode on Life’s Journey
Ian Quinn – 466 Haynes Creek
Jeff Begley – 505 Where Ceaseless Ages Roll
Chris Cotter – 371 Heavenly Dove
Ellen Lueck – 132 Sinner’s Friend
Pattie Wareh – 72b Bellevue
Emma Rose Brown – 556 Portland
John delRe – 80t Shouting Song
Sonia Chin – 318 Present Joys
Ben Bath – 399b Happy Christian
Jordan Lewis – 428 World Unknown
Lori Cabirac – 201 Pilgrim
Hal Kunkel – 89 The Church’s Desolation
Barbara Swetman – 454 The Better Land
Julia Seidenstein – 284 Garden Hymn
Oliver Kindig-Stokes – 67 Columbus
Jim Strube – 268 David’s Lamentation
Corinne Ducey – 37b Liverpool
Evan Druce – 77t The Child of Grace
Joel Miller – 283 Sabbath Morning
Charles Biada – 294 Rocky Road
Carol Huang – 56b Villulia
Mary Helen Dupree – 99 Gospel Trumpet
Bethany Towne – 217 Ballstown
Mary Skidmore – 198 Green Street
Aldo Ceresa – 430 Arbacoochee
Becky Wright – 65 Sweet Prospect
Douglas Fower – 299 New Jerusalem
Laura Densmore – 302 Logan
Terry Ryan – 473 Carmarthen
Gina Balestracci – 524 The Twenty-Third Psalm
Charlotte Ehrman – 365 Southwell
Tom Stokes – 145t Warrenton
Dean Jens – 373 Homeward Bound
Harry Scott – 497 Natick
Ben Cocchiaro – 347 Christian’s Farewell
Ben Cocchiaro – 48t Devotion
Nancy Mandel – 42 Clamanda
Dan Coppock – 327 Invitation
Ted Stokes – 495 The Midnight Cry
Katy Kanfer – 57 Christian Soldier
Lamar Matthew – 344 Rainbow
Katie White – 38t Winter
John delRe – 501 O’Leary
Kirsten Jensen – 276 Bridgewater
Doron Henkin – 192 Schenectady
Tarik Wareh – 404 Youth Will Soon Be Gone
Barbara Hohenstein – 277 Antioch
Bethany Towne – 418 Reese
Carol Stevens – 350 Nativity
Laura Densmore – 313t Concord
Anna Melton – 156 Jesus Rose
Oliver Kindig-Stokes – 314 Cleburne
Cheri Hardy – 315 Immensity
Gerry Hoffman – 546 My Brightest Days
Ian Quinn – 56t Columbiana
Julia Seidenstein – 29t Fairfield
Faiz Wareh – 486 Beneficence
Chloe Mohr – 34b St. Thomas
Elizabeth Pilar – 112 The Last Words of Copernicus
Matt Roberts – 460 Sardis
Kelly Macklin – 326 Weary Pilgrim
Guy Bankes – 442 New Jordan
Anna Leigh Smith – 417 Weeping Pilgrim
Myles Louis Dakan – 441 Raymond
Dan Hunter – 321 Newnan
Barbara Swetman – 485 New Agatite
Philippa Stoddard – 424 Sweet Union
Michael Nord – 411 Morning Prayer
Molly Merrett – 448t Consecration
Marilyn Murata – 412 New Hosanna
John D delRe – 354t Lebanon
Sonia Chin – 337 Mercy’s Free
Gina Balestracci – 304 Morgan
Graham DeZarn – 131t Messiah
Christine Andrews – 39t Detroit
Mason Shefa – 48b Kedron
Kate Fortin – 370 Monroe
John Plunkett – 459 Tolling Bell
Sasha Hsuczyk – 440 North Salem
Mike Hinton – 534 New Georgia
Erin Gum – 339 When I Am Gone
Ruth Wampler – 414 Parting Friend
Ruth Wampler – 340 Odem
Robert Stoddard – 338 Sawyer’s Exit
Mary Andrews – 168 Cowper
Tom Stokes – 187 Protection
Ian Quinn – 310 Weeping Savior
Claire Steiner – 410t The Dying Californian
Becca Gibson – 58 Pisgah
Josh Barnett – 129 Heavenly Armor
Becky Wright – 269 Bear Creek
Thom Fahrbach – 402 Protection
Emma Rose Brown – 325 Soldier of the Cross
Leon Pulsinelle – 218 Mount Pleasant
Suzan Greenberg – 377 Eternal Praise
Linda Shea – 306 Oxford
Chris Coughlin – 88t Done With the World
Elizabeth Stoddard and Charles Biada – 165 Family Bible
Lucas Husted – 178 Africa
Carol Huang – 333 Family Circle
Rachel Hall – 250 Heavenly Vision
Scott Robinson – 378t Heavenly Port
Ben Bath – 512 The Spirit Shall Return
Thomas Ward – 445 Passing Away
Gwen Gethner – 182 Newburgh
Josh Barnett – 480 Redemption
Jeff Begley – 545 The Pilgrim’s Way
Emily Hale-Sills – 280 Westford
Gerald Clark and Corinne Ducey – 30b Prospect
Jeff Gauthier – 270 Confidence
Mike Richards – 87 Sweet Canaan
Charles Biada – 521 Parting Friends
Sophie Soloway – 95 Vernon
Rachel Speer and Calvin Jens – 530 A Glad New Song
Ted Stokes – 36t America
Ina Shea and Carol Stevens – 479 Chester
Terry Ryan – 550 Blissful Dawning
Cora Wareh – 489 The Savior’s Call
Ellen Lueck – 73t Cusseta
David Brodeur – 522 Ye Heedless Ones
Jesse Polhemus – 191 Virginia
Nora Miller – 193 Huntington
Elizabeth Patton – 472 Akin
Dean Jens – 569t Emmaus
Evan Druce – 228 Marlborough
Mary Skidmore – 538 Hampton
Harry Scott – 260 Farewell Anthem
Mary Helen Dupree – 28t Aylesbury
Charlotte Ehrman – 157 Essay
Jordan Lewis – 106 Ecstasy
Pattie Wareh – 503 Lloyd
Douglas Fower – 209 Evening Shade
Jason Steidl – 405 The Marcellas
Sonia Chin – 155 Northfield
Aldo Ceresa and Sarah Weiss – 500 Living Hope
Joel Miller – 573 Harpeth Valley
Ben Cocchiaro – 62 Parting Hand
MOOD CAFE (4618 Baltimore Ave) – Chaat and Lassis. Not a sit down restaurant
Here are the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday convention locations. Click on the menu icon in the upper left corner of the map to see the legend. Zoom out to see locations for the Thursday and Sunday night singings.
Here’s a streamable compilation of recordings from past Keystone Sacred Harp Conventions. In 2009 and 2010, the convention was at Broad Street Ministries in Philadelphia. In 2012, it was in Bethlehem. It was at The Rotunda in West Philadelphia in 2015.
Keystone 2015 Videos. Thanks to Amy Myers for taking these.
Keystone 2015, Saturday AM. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes. Recordings by Bill Houston using a Soundfield DSF-1.
Keystone 2015, Saturday PM. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes. Recordings by Bill Houston using a Soundfield DSF-1.
Keystone 2015, Sunday AM. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes. Recordings by Bill Houston using a Soundfield DSF-1.
Keystone 2015, Sunday PM. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes. Recordings by Bill Houston using a Soundfield DSF-1.
Keystone 2012. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes.
Keystone 2010, Part 1. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes.
Keystone 2010, Part 2. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes.
Keystone 2009, Part 1. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes.
Keystone 2009, Part 2. You can either stream the music or download individual tracks. To download, right-click or control-click on the track name. Leaders’ names are found in the minutes.
Photo (c) 2012 by Patrick Paglen. Recordings of 2009 and 2010 by Oliver Kindig-Stokes and Ted Stokes, of 2012 by Rachel Hall and Ian Quinn using a ZOOM, and 2015 by Bill Houston Soundfield DSF-1.
There are a few hotels within walking distance of The Rotunda and many more in Center City. For easy access to the convention and social, you may wish to find accommodation near the Market-Frankford subway line, which runs under Market St.
Hotels (two of many)
Homewood Suites by Hilton (one block from singing; bring your swimsuit!)
4109 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Club Quarters (Center City West)
1628 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Gables Bed & Breakfast (West Philadelphia)
4520 Chester Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143
La Reserve (Center City West)
1804 Pine St, Philadelphia, PA