Shape-note Singing: Meaning

music: “Not Made with Hands”


When people join together and raise their voices in song, something very special can happen. That’s why one man is doing everything he can to preserve a local version of a centuries-old tradition called Sacred Harp. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Shape-note, or Sacred Harp, is an a cappella style of hymn-singing that dates back to colonial New England and is still popular today in the southeastern United States. David Lee is a fifth-generation Shape-note singer in Georgia.

“When we’re singing together, we are facing each other. We’re always singing to each other and for each other. Our people can sing their love for each other, in ways that they can’t talk about it. There’s another place that we go when we’re singing together, and I don’t know how to get to that place, except to go there by singing. The singing that we do with each other is bigger than we are. This singing is not anything that I could invent, and there’s things that takes place at these sings, there’s feelings that people can’t contrive. There is something here that had to come from above, because we can’t make this up.”

David Lee holds Shape-note singing schools in southern Georgia and across the country. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.


Shape-note Singing: Meaning

People in southeastern Georgia are trying to preserve a tradition of hymn-singing called Shape-note or Sacred Harp. They say it's a way of singing their love.
Air Date:11/23/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

music: "Not Made with Hands"


When people join together and raise their voices in song, something very special can happen. That's why one man is doing everything he can to preserve a local version of a centuries-old tradition called Sacred Harp. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Shape-note, or Sacred Harp, is an a cappella style of hymn-singing that dates back to colonial New England and is still popular today in the southeastern United States. David Lee is a fifth-generation Shape-note singer in Georgia.

"When we're singing together, we are facing each other. We're always singing to each other and for each other. Our people can sing their love for each other, in ways that they can't talk about it. There's another place that we go when we're singing together, and I don't know how to get to that place, except to go there by singing. The singing that we do with each other is bigger than we are. This singing is not anything that I could invent, and there's things that takes place at these sings, there's feelings that people can't contrive. There is something here that had to come from above, because we can't make this up."

David Lee holds Shape-note singing schools in southern Georgia and across the country. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.