Site logo for Pacific Northwest Sacred Harp Singerslogo

Mixed Marriages

notes fa sol la Dear Miss Grace Notes: A wonderful man has asked me to marry him, and I desperately need your advice before I can give him my answer. I have sung shapenote music all my life. I was raised in a "singing family," and led my first lesson when I was five years old. I have always attended every convention I could. My sweetheart sings shapenote music, too.
   The problem? My family sings from the Denson revision, and his family sings from the Cooper revision. Could such a mixed marriage succeed? How will we raise our children? Which conventions should we attend? What will we sing at our wedding? Please hurry your answer! ----Guess Who's Coming to Dinner-on-the-Ground

image of Miss Grace Notes Gentle Singer: Miss Grace Notes regrets that you did not consult her before you found yourself in this predicament. She would have encouraged you to think with your ears instead of your heart. Since you are using words such as "wonderful" and "sweetheart," Miss Grace Notes senses that it's a little late for cautionary words. At this point, Miss Grace Notes can only recommend prudence. Sacred Harp mixed marriages are not easy; they require adjustment of rhythm and speed and other auditory elements to remain harmonious.
   On the subject of conventions, Miss Grace Notes assumes that you will want to attend these events together. If that is the case, you must sit down to plan your singing calendar. That way each of you will know what to expect. When in Ozark or Henderson or Hoboken, do as they do in those parts; when in Holly Springs or Ider or Fayette, sing as they sing there.
   This much seems self-evident to Miss Grace Notes. If you follow this same principle in deciding which songs will be sung at your wedding, it will probably work out all right, though it could be awkward if only one half of the wedding guests sing at a time. Miss Grace Notes feels certain that you are thinking fondly of the days when the entire wedding ceremony was the bride's decision. She reminds you that the bride was compelled to obey her husband thereafter and asks you to count your blessings.
   As to the children, Miss Grace Notes hopes that you will take them with you to all the singings you attend, and that you will love them no matter which tradition they adopt. She hopes you have the good sense to avoid seven-shape and gospel singings when they reach those dangerous teenage years. Perhaps if you do you can spare them your current dilemma.

Back to Miss Grace Notes

Questions? Email us at