Sunday, March 14, 2010

1903 Knox County Singing

The New York Times
October 25, 1903


"A curious musical gathering occurs annually on the first Sunday in October at Beaver Creek Church, Knox County, Tenn., when an organization called the Old Harp Singers meets for a season of song. This has been done now for twenty-seven years, and the attendance, originally small, has grown till now about 4,000 people are present at the little village, people turning out for miles around to hear the singing and enjoy the day.  "The good housewives of the surrounding neighborhood," says The Knoxville Sentinel in its account of the
Festival that occurred the other day, "prepare a splendid dinner, which is spread at 12 O'clock and is free to all who will participate. After dinner they again assemble in the church, and continue the singing until 3:00, when they close and bid each other good-bye, and look forward to the next year's meeting." The "Old Harp of Columbia," from which the association takes its name, appears to be the title of the song book from which these Tennessee choristers sing. In the old days of 1876 there were two classes of singers, the "old" and the "new harp singers," who would sing against each other. They finally agreed to unite their forces and adopt the "Old Harp of Columbia " as their standard."