Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Voice We Loved is Stilled

Mr. Raymond Cooper Hamrick died Monday, November 24, 2014 in the 99th year of his life. He was born on June 14, 1915 in Macon, Georgia. He was a master jeweler and watchmaker. He was "a voice we loved" in the Sacred Harp community. He was a singer and composer, served the Sacred Harp Publishing Company on the board of directors, as president for four terms, and on the 1991 Revision Committee. His was a unique and compelling personality that endeared him to singers of all ages, places and backgrounds. Though this voice we love "is stilled" his music that fills every heart and tongue, overflows our lips, and unveils the beauties of God's face, lives on in The 1991 Edition of The Sacred Harp and The Georgian Harmony.

Mr. Hamrick's services and burial will be Wednesday, December 3 at Evergreen Cemetery, Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. Singers will, Lord willing, sing his tunes Lloyd and Christian's Farewell.

Brethren, farewell, I do you tell,
I’m sorry to leave, I love you so well.
Now I must go, where I don’t know,
Wherever Christ leads me the trumpet to blow.

Here I have worked, labored awhile,
But labor is sweet if Jesus doth smile.
When I am done, I will go home
Where Jesus is smiling and bids me to come.
From Benjamin Lloyd's Primitive Hymns, No. 621

1 comment:

R. L. Vaughn said...

In my opinion, Raymond Hamrick ranks among the all-time great composers whose songs grace the pages of The Sacred Harp books. Raymond's tune LLOYD ranks 9th overall of 1991 book songs led in the period 1995-2013 (According to's "Song Use in The Sacred Harp, 1995-2013). CHRISTIAN'S FAREWELL appears to be the second most popular "closing song" -- after PARTING HAND. He was so prolific a composer that The Sacred Harp could not contain his songs. In 2010 a tunebook with Raymond's songs -- The Georgian Harmony -- was released. It would be a rare Sacred Harp singer indeed who has never sung any of the songs of Raymond Hamrick.

The first time I met him was in 1994 at the J. L. White book singing in Decatur, Georgia. He had an endearing quality that immediately drew me to him. He had never seen or heard of me, yet treated me as someone special -- what I asked and said was important to him. Over the years, the geographic distance between us meant that I did not see him or sing with him very often, but my interactions with him produced dear thoughts I will hold a lifetime. He was ready and willing to help. He helped me find the J. S. James book reprinted by Owel Denson and an 1870 Sacred Harp. Raymond knew the family of a deceased singer that he thought would be willing to sell these books. He contacted them, arranged it, and I was able to purchase the books. These kinds of deeds flowed out of who he was; it was not for his own sake he did them.

In a 2011 Georgia Music News article, Jesse Karlsberg concluded that his "gentle wit, remarkable memory, and disarming charm" made him "a delightful presence at singings, and a living treasure in the Sacred Harp world." Though he is no longer living, he is still a treasure. He has left an empty seat that will not be soon filled.