This song has been used to open "Big Singing Day" in Benton, Kentucky, for over a century now. Unlike the other Sacred Harp example, the Southern Harmony singing is in only three parts: treble, tenor, and bass. The resulting sound is slower, more gentle, and a little more "hollow" without that added counter voice. Notice that the leader of this song, Ray Mofield, calls out "down left" to remind singers to remain silent during the half note rest that begins the song. He also calls out "by the line" which indicates that they are supposed to sing the words instead of the solfege syllables.
The music has an A A B A structure. It begins with an introductory phrase on the words, "Breathren we have met to worship, And adore the Lord our God." This melodic idea is then repeated on the words, "Will you pray with all your power, While we try to preach the word." There is a contrasting phrase accompanying the text, "All is vain unless the spirit of the Holy One comes down." Finally the music returns to the first musical idea on the words, "Brethren pray and holy manna will be showered all around."
Recording courtesy of the Society for Preservation of Southern Harmony Singing.
1973, Benton, Kentucky.
Southern Harmony singers of Benton, Kentucky, led by Ray Mofield
Permission Information: Recording courtesy of the Society for Preservation of Southern Harmony Singing.
Keywords: field recording, shape note singing, The Southern Harmony, hymnody, vocal music