Sacred Harp Singing is four part a cappella harmony singing. The tunes are written in four different ‘shape notes’- Fa (a triangle), Sol (an oval), La (a rectangle) and Mi (a diamond)- designed to help people sight-read the music. Anyone is welcome to come along, whether you have experience or not, whether you think you can sing or read music or not, and whatever you believe in- The Sacred Harp is a hymn book, but the Worthing singers are ‘of any faith and none’.
We are an informal group of all ages and backgrounds, and you do not need to make any sort of regular commitment. You can come and go to a singing as you please, and come along as often or as little as you like- though singing the shapes becomes easier the more you do it. Sacred Harp is social singing- it is not performance music and there are no rehearsals. We sing together for ourselves in the moment, more akin to a folk session than a choir.
Everyone has the chance to choose and lead a song if they want to, and there are more experienced singers who can help if needed. You will notice many shape note singers move their arms to beat time- this looks pretty strange at first but makes sense when you see how it keeps everyone together!
If you’re curious how it sounds we recommend coming along to hear it for yourself. The style is loud and unrestrained, the harmonies are unusual. If you’d like to hear what it sounds like our friends in Cork and London have posted a whole load of songs online.
We are a really new group, so don’t worry if you feel you don’t know much about singing, not many of us do! We are volunteer-run and cover room hire costs with small donations that are very welcome but not compulsory. We sing from The Sacred Harp 1991 Denson edition. Books are available to borrow if you don’t have your own, so just come along wanting to sing. If you want to bring something to sing from a different shape note source, please do! We need at least 15 copies which can then be shared if need be.
We sing every third Tuesday at Set John the Divine church, Ripley Road, West Worthing. We meet at 8.00 pm and sing from 8:15 until 10:15, when we decamp to a nearby pub.