The Sacred Harp
Review from The Choral Journal, March, 1994
I. "Soar Away,"SSATTB, CH-1024
In far too irregular intervals, publishers make available what may be called genuine Americana. The Sacred Harp, the overall name for five tunes that together may require ten minutes' performance time, is one of those welcome issues. Voice ranges are nearly textbook perfect for church, high school, or college choirs. In keeping with the sacred harp tradition, the set is unaccompanied and offers a variety of voicings. Moreover, with its initial setting in solfège, "Soar Away" provides an opportunity for choir and audience to experience fasola singing - without shaped notes. Information about the history, tradition, and performance practice of sacred harp singing appears on the inside or back cover of each piece.
In spite of the fact that proper credit is given for both text and tune in each case, it is difficult to comment on these pieces, because they are note-for-note and entrance-for-entrance from The Sacred Harp Tune Book (1991 edition) with the following deviations: "Sweet Prospect," originally a 6/4 SATB setting in E minor, appears here in 6/8 for SSAA in D minor; "Windham," originally in 4/4, appears here with shifting 2/4 and 3/4 meters and a scoring change from SATB to TTBB. These, then, may be called transcriptions that make this somewhat specialized genre of American music available to a larger public. A truer and more genuine experience, however, would be gained from the original sources.
Review by Robert L. Morris