Please come back tomorrow for another posting in my Advent calendar
What wondrous love is this?
A shapenote chorus.
Shape notes are a music notation designed to facilitate congregational and community singing. The notation, introduced in 1801, became a popular teaching device in American singing schools. Shapes were added to the note heads in written music to help singers find pitches within major and minor scales without the use of more complex information found in key signatures on the staff.
The idea behind shape notes is that the parts of a vocal work can be learned more quickly and easily if the music is printed in shapes that match up with the “Solfège” syllables with which the notes of the musical scale are sung. For instance, in the four-shape tradition used in the “Sacred Harp” tradition, the notes of a C major scale are notated and sung as follows:
The syllables and notes of a shape note system are relative rather than absolute; they depend on the key of the piece. The first note of a major key always has the triangular Fa note, followed (ascending) by Sol, La, etc. The first note of a minor key is always La, followed by Mi, Fa, etc.
– Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shape_note.
What wondrous love is this!
When I was sinking down,
To God and to the Lamb,
And when from death I’m free
As sung by The Old Harp Singers of Eastern Tennessee on the CD Classic Southern Gospel from Smithsonian Folkways
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