Friday, October 30, 2015

13 great quotes, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bunker mentality and other quotes

"If you want to avoid bunker mentality, leave the bunker." -- Copied

"Religions are neither peaceful nor violent, neither pluralistic nor misogynistic — people are peaceful, violent, pluralistic, or misogynistic, and you bring to your religion what you yourself already believe." -- Reza Aslan

"He is the Creator and Lord of all things, and consequently he is free to do whatever he wills. He is not subject to or answerable to anyone." -- Millard Erickson

"Limited free will is limited by the will of God, but it is a basic defining attribute of man." -- Malcolm Hester

"If you believe that church is for outsiders, you have a mistaken view on what the New Testament Church is." -- Jeff Maples

"The truly wise man is he who always believes the Bible against the opinion of any man." -- R.A. Torrey

"He that comes to and leans upon Jesus, his finished work, his dying love, will have rest here and heaven hereafter." -- J. C. Philpot

"For many, marriage has become a means to serial monogamy rather than a lifelong partnership." -- Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Atheists and grief

My child is not in heaven: Your religion only makes my grief harder -- "Losing a newborn is always hard, but grieving as an atheist in a world of believers added loneliness to grief." 

I don't approve of or agree with the conclusions of the above linked article. But I do find it interesting reading, and think it provides insight into the thinking of atheists on the subject of grief.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

5 bookish facts, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Errata and addenda for Approaching 150

Errata and addenda for Approaching 150: a Brief History of the East Texas Musical Convention 

Page 30: Special mention
James Ed Gentry was Vice-president of the Convention from 1934-1936. 

Page 30-31: Singing School teachers
Singing School teachers should include: Davis Y. Gammage (Panola County), John T. Holloway (Upshur County), E. E. Jones (Rusk County), L. D. Mangham (Panola County), Grady McLeod (Cass County), John Sanders (Rusk Co./Parker Co.), David P. White (Cherokee County). Jayne McKnight (Smith County) should be listed among those living or teaching in the six county area. 

Page 38: Panola County
Clayton is 9 miles southwest of Carthage rather than 16.

Page 39: Panola County (also pp. 45, 57)
“Rehoboth” should be spelled “Rehobeth”.

Page 42: Second paragraph
“Invitations extended to the Convention should be regarded as more of a community invitation that a church invitation...” should read, “Invitations extended to the Convention should be regarded as more of a community invitation than a church invitation...”

Page 49: Influence on churches (third paragraph)
“Only Zion Hill is in the six-county East Texas Convention meeting region” should read, “Only Pine Grove and Zion Hill are in the six-county East Texas Convention meeting region.

Page 50: First paragraph
“Early East Texas song leaders likely received their first musical training had in the community singing school” should read, “Early East Texas song leaders likely received their first musical training in a community singing school.”

Page 55: Second paragraph
“Yet the Sacred Harp community with its built-in catharsis suffers less from depression than the average American” should read, “Yet the Sacred Harp community with its built-in catharsis probably suffers less from depression than the average American.”

Page 65: Appendix B Sacred Harp Singings in East Texas, 2004
The monthly singing at the University of Houston should be included on this list.

Page 70: Appendix H Historical Marker Project East Texas Musical Convention 
Sacred Harp (Fasola) singing is based on a system of shaped notes, dispersed harmony and minor chords. In its origins it was rural, folk, religious music that allowed singers to interpret, or personalize, the sounds. Brought westward by migrating settlers and kept alive through special songbooks, it found a welcome home in East Texas, where many settlers were from the South. Tradition holds that the East Texas Sacred Harp Singing Society, forerunner of the East Texas Musical Convention, dates to 1855. Suspended briefly during the Civil War years, the annual conventions, centered on six area counties, have maintained their popularity through the years. – 2005 Texas Historical Commission

[Note: We did not have the historical marker at the time the book was printed, but understood some requested changes were being made. I printed what I thought was supposed to be on the marker, but the above text is what is actually on the marker.]

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Not what these hands have done

1. Not what these hands have done
    Can save my guilty soul;
    Not what my toiling flesh has borne
    Can make my spirit whole.
    Not what I feel or do
    Can give me peace with God;
    Not all my prayers, and sighs and tears,
    Can bear my awful load.

2. Thy work alone, O Christ,
    Can ease this weight of sin;
    Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God,
    Can give me peace within.
    Thy love to me, O God,
    Not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
    Can rid me of this dark unrest,
    And set my spirit free.

3. Thy grace alone, O Lord,
    Can speak to me of grace;
    Thy power alone, O Son of God,
    Can this sore bondage break.
    No other work, save Thine,
    No meaner blood will do;
    No strength, save that which is divine,
    Can bear me safely through.

4. I bless the Christ of God;
    I rest on love divine;
    And with unfalt’ring lip and heart,
    I call this Savior mine.
    His cross dispels each doubt;
    I bury in His tomb
    Each thought of unbelief and fear,
    Each ling’ring shade of gloom.

5. I praise the God of grace;
    I trust His truth and might;
    He calls me His, I call Him mine,
    My God, my joy and light.
    In Him is only good,
    In me is only ill;
    My ill but draws His goodness forth,
    And me He loveth still.

6.’Tis He who saveth me,
    And freely pardon gives;
    I love because He loveth me,
    I live because He lives.
    My life with Him is hid,
    My death has passed away;
    My clouds have melted into light,
    My midnight into day.

– By Horatius Bonar. (Meter S.M.D.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Raising a sixth, raising a stink

“...Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” - James 3:5

On my blog I discuss music and singing, but mostly stay away from technical musical discussions. Not so today. A technical musical discussion raised in Sacred Harp circles is whether the sixth degree of the minor scale (FA) is a half step or a whole step from the fifth degree (LA).[1] If it is sung as a whole step it is considered a raised sixth, or by some a Dorian scale rather than a natural minor. Raising the subject of raising the sixth can raise a stink. The sixth member of the minor scale, the minor sixth is a little member – often not even used in minor Sacred Harp tunes – but it can kindle a great matter. The minor sixth is quite an eccentric character, getting a lot of press in relation to its actual use! David Wright wrote that, “The sixth, for all our talk about it, is used sparingly in minor key music, frequently as a passing tone or in an unaccented position.” Tom Malone says, “the raised sixth is one of the most unwelcome topics that can be brought up in polite [Sacred Harp] conversation.”[2]

At Issue
This was probably never much of a discussion point for singers until George Pullen Jackson raised the spectre of the raised sixth in his writings. Now it is not uncommon to hear or read that “traditional singers” sing all minor key songs with a raised sixth degree of the scale (in minor songs that have the sixth degree). For example, in The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music (p. 33), Buell Cobb asserts that Sacred Harp singers’ practice of raising the sixth “is followed wherever the sixth is encountered in a ‘minor’ song, not just in the melody line but in all harmonic parts, even in the songs purposely composed as minor.” In A Plea for Participation in the Sacred Harp Tradition, Ginnie Ely advises that we should “Sing only one minor scale (which contains the raised sixth).”  A Critique of a Popular Teaching Illustration, at the Pacific Northwest Sacred Harp Singers website, tells us that a minor scale that is the relative of the major scale is “wrong” and that teaching a half step between the fifth and sixth notes in the minor scale is “incorrect.”

Furthermore, though no Sacred Harp book had previously done so, The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition chose to include a recommendation in the “Rudiments” section in favor of consistent use of the raised sixth (pp. 18–19). The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition 2012 followed suit, adopting the raised minor sixth theory in its “Rudiments” (See pages xx, xxiv). At issue is the fact that the books and others teach that the minor key in Sacred Harp music always has a raised sixth degree.[3]

Some problems
A dogmatic “raised only” view rejects over 100 years of teaching tradition of The Sacred Harp. While it will be readily agreed that a raised minor sixth exists and has long (if not always) existed in the “singing” tradition of The Sacred Harp, the appeal that it ought to be taught and practiced consistently and universally is new-fangled – not according to the “old paths”.

  • B. F. White 1844: In the minor key, the semitones occur “between the second and third, and fifth and sixth sounds from the key.” (The Sacred Harp, 1860, p. 14)
  • W. M. Cooper’s diagram shows minor semitones between the second and third degrees and between the fifth and sixth degrees (The Sacred Harp, 1902 p. 22)
  • J. L. White’s diagram in his rudiments (p. 17) indicates he thought the seventh in the minor scale should be raised (and so denoted with an accidental), but he indicates a half step between the fifth and sixth degrees. (J. L. White editions of The Sacred Harp, 1909-1911)
  •  J. S. James’s discussion of the subject of the minor scale is a little confusing, but he clearly indicates a half-step between the fifth and sixth degrees of the scale. (Original Sacred Harp, 1911, p. 10)[4]
  • Paine Denson: In the minor scale, the semitones occur “between 2 and 3 and 5 and 6, both ascending and descending.” (Original Sacred Harp, Denson Edition, 1936, p. 16)
It is incredible to think that no editors of the Sacred Harp book from 1844 to 1936 knew what scale they were teaching. Not until 1991 did any Sacred Harp rudiments endorse the idea that the Sacred Harp minor scale only and always contains a raised sixth.  (See page 19 in the rudiments of The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition).

A dogmatic “raised only” view does not consider all possibilities. Early American songs can be found using an accidental on the sixth degree of the minor scale. This corresponds with the composers (and music editors) consideration that the sixth in the minor was not raised unless notated. This may also be seen in the work of certain composers and editors.  For example, Diana (from The Union Choral Harmony, 1836) uses an accidental to raise the sixth on all four instances when it is found in the tenor part. Jordan’s Shore, which had been removed from The Sacred Harp in 1870, was added back to the 1911 Original Sacred Harp. G. B. Daniell rearranged this tune and “corrected” the sixth by adding a sharp to it in the three places it was found in the tenor, making it clear that in his knowledge of the tradition the raised sixth was not part of the minor scale – and that singers were and/or should be singing a raised sixth on the song in those places. George Byron Daniell was a traditional singer and a founding member of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association.

A dogmatic “raised only” view creates a universal that does not exist. Many students of this music acknowledge that the practice is less than consistent. Raymond Hamrick contended that its actual practice depended on “where, when, what, and who.” Like Hamrick, the Shenandoah Harmony editors (p. vii) concluded that “This practice varies by region, singer, and specific musical instance.” It can vary by geography, family,[5] era,[6] and the particular songs being sung. In her book Traveling Home, Kiri Miller quotes one widely-travelled Northern singer saying that some Southern singers “would give me the hairy eyeball if I consistently sang raised sixths that could be played on a piano”[7] and that “traditional singers are reluctant to support the efforts of newer singers to codify the oral aspects of the tradition.”

A dogmatic “raised only” view advances one “traditional” practice above another “traditional” practice. That is, it gives preference to the traditional singers or traditional locations where the practice is followed, implying that traditional singers or traditional locations that do not follow the “raised sixth” preference lack that much being traditional.[8]

The compilers, editors and revisers of The Sacred Harp have traditionally recognized no distinctions between diatonic or pentatonic, full or gapped scales, and assigned all tunes to the major or minor mode. The instructional tradition of Sacred Harp has maintained that there are two scales – major and minor. The shape note system of music possesses a sublime simplicity. It is a simple mechanism to teach folks to sing competently without years of study. Our singing of the minor upper tetrachord is ambiguous.[9] There are three minor scales (and combinations thereof) that are common in music. The Sacred Harp/shape note/a cappella tradition minor scale has the capacity to represent ALL THREE. Among shape-note singers there has been a long-standing general aversion toward printed accidentals (as well as the extra syllables associated with them). This aversion meant accidentals were/are often not printed even when they are intended. Therefor "we" are using one scale (set of shapes) to account for three minor scales (natural, harmonic, melodic). The sharp (or lack thereof) is not printed and not called by any different syllable name. Sacred Harp singers, in fact, sing all three types of minor – natural, harmonic, melodic – using the same syllables and shape set (even when no accidentals are present for the harmonic and melodic).

The Solution
Let the singers sing it instead of letting the deciders decide it. What we do does not always match what we say (or sing). Leave alone the teaching tradition that has been the prevailing tradition from 1844 into the 20th century. Leave it alone in the rudiments, let the teachers (on either side) admit what they teach is their preferred practice, and let the singers figure the rest out themselves while singing. In many cases Sacred Harp singers substitute the sequence of dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth instead of what is written as two eighth notes. This is a common occurrence, yet we do not insist that two eighth notes in succession should consistently and universally be sung as a dotted eighth and a sixteenth – neither do we formulate any system to teach singers when to do so.

Dogmatic insistence that not always raising the sixth is wrong is not helpful, does not recognize the totality of our experience, and fails to give due deference to our teaching tradition (beginning with the rudiments in 1844). Tom Malone has described the Sacred Harp minor key as possessing an unstable upper tetrachord. In my opinion, this best captures the essence of what we do in actual singing, and leaves unnecessary settling what we always do! Warren Steel adds that “the notation is merely an imperfect rendering of how it goes.”[10]

A traditional way can be confused for The traditional way. One universal monolithic Sacred Harp tradition with no variations has never existed.[11] We have no universal common standard at which to appeal. In some of our church traditions the appeal is to the Bible as the final arbiter, and in some traditions the appeal is to what a church council or the church leader says. In Sacred Harp there is never a final appeal which settles the question. So let us sing.

Some links addressing the subject

[1] In (most) Western music a natural minor scale (sometimes called Aeolian) has the same notes as its relative major scale (the major scale having the same key signature), but starts from the sixth note of the relative major scale; the harmonic minor scale has the seventh note raised one semitone; and the melodic minor scales raise both the sixth and seventh notes one semitone when ascending (but the sixth and seventh notes are flattened when descending the scale, the same as descending the natural minor scale). The use of the raised sixth (only) in the minor scale produces a fourth variation of the minor scale, which some equate (whether rightly or wrongly) with the Dorian mode.
[2] Thomas B. Malone, The Rudiments as "Right Action": Pedagogy and Praxis in the Traditional Sacred Harp Singing School, D.M.A. dissertation, Boston University College of Fine Arts, 2009, p. 166
[3] Perhaps these discussions have not adequately considered the minor sixth varying in upward or downward motion.
[4] James’s chart in both the Union Harp (1909) and Sacred Harp (1911) show a raised seventh ascending the minor scale but a natural minor descending. Nevertheless he does not advocate a raised sixth either ascending or descending.  “The seventh tone is obtained by the use of a sharp.” (p. 21 Union Harp)
[5] That is, what traditional area the singers are from, or even the family.
[6] For example, the presence of strong teaching in favor of the raised sixth might make it more prevalent in modern times than previously. Unfortunately we are unable to know about the earliest Sacred Harp singers other than what they wrote. We have no audio examples of their singing.
[7] Matt Bell wrote that “Singers who insist on raising the sixth indiscriminately (whether consciously or not) may, in some cases, be inadvertently creating some really weird intervals…”
[8] A.M. Cagle wrote in a letter to Raymond Hamrick in 1967, “This is a thing the Sacred-Harpers know almost nothing about, and ‘care less’.” p. 175, The Rudiments as "Right Action": Pedagogy and Praxis in the Traditional Sacred Harp Singing School
[9] A scale of an octave is made up of two tetrachords – a system of four notes. The “upper tetrachord of the minor scale is La-Fa-Sol-La. In his dissertation (p. 175) Tom Malone concludes that “singers should be advised that the upper tetrachord of the minor scale is variable, and that Fa 6 can vary from song to song or from phrase to phrase within the same song.” (A tetrachord is a musical scale of four notes, the interval between the first and last being a perfect fourth – two whole steps and a half step (or, an interval the size of two and one-half steps). In the major scale the lower tetrachord is FA(w)SOL(w)LA(h)FA and the upper tetrachord is SOL(w)LA(w)MI(h)FA. In the relative minor scale the lower tetrachord is LA(w)MI(h)FA(w)SOL and the upper tetrachord is LA(h)FA(w)SOL(w)LA. In the adjusted minor scale the lower tetrachord is LA(w)MI(h)FA(w)SOL and the upper tetrachord is LA(w)FA(h)SOL(w)LA. This adjustment places the steps of both tetrachords in the same order and reflects how the scale is often perceived. The relative minor scale keeps the whole and half steps in the exact sequence as its relative major.)
[10] And I would add that even our teaching is an imperfect rendering of “how it goes”.
[11] Though something much closer to this existed when the Southern Musical Convention was the only Sacred Harp Convention.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Raised sixths, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Four complementarian connectives

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

F. M. Graham, songwriter

Frank Monford Graham was born March 1, 1859 in Birmingham, Schuyler County, Illinois, son of David Graham and Lucinda Miller. He is found in Illinois in the 1880 census and Georgia in 1910. Graham was in or around Spartanburg County, South Carolina by 1899. He held a revival at Mayo that year, where Graham Chapel Wesleyan Church was later named for him. His future wife was living and teaching in Spartanburg County in 1900, according to the Federal Census. Graham was living in Pelzer, a town in Anderson County, South Carolina, in 1902 when he published Songs for Jesus. He was still in South Carolina 1903 to 1905, when his children were born there. He was apparently in Greene County, Georgia by 1906 (when Songs for Jesus, No 1 and No 2 Combined was published) and by 1910 he and his family are listed in the census. That year he was at Caldwell, which is also listed as his residence in 1920. In 1930 his residence is listed as Militia District 141, Greene County, Georgia.

Graham married Mary Ella Roof of South Carolina probably around 1902. Their son Herbert Roof Graham was born in 1903 and daughter Edith M. Graham in 1905. Frank Monford Graham died August 25, 1931 in Greensboro, Georgia and is buried at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery, Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. His tombstone is inscribed “The Holiness Singer and Preacher.” His wife Ella and son Herbert are also buried there. What happened to Edith is presently unknown.

Frank M. Graham was a Wesleyan Methodist pastor, as well as a singer, songwriter and evangelist. says that he served as District Superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in northern Georgia from around 1895 to about 1915, and that in 1906 he was one of the founders of the Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute (now Southern Wesleyan University) at Central, Pickens County, South Carolina. In 1907 he served as president the North Georgia Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and served the Wesley Chapel Circuit -- Wesley Chapel, Rebecca and Winder churches (Proceedings of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, November, 1907 pp. 2-4, 10).

Graham was a prolific composer, writing possibly as many as 100 songs. His most popular by far is “The Old Account (was settled long ago)”. He wrote two stanzas for the song “Better Farther On” -- which song continues in use in various -- including being recorded by the Carter Family. “Don't Grieve Your Mother” was published in the J. L. White editions of The Sacred Harp (1909-1911) and is still sung today. Many will recognize the words of his prohibition tune “Jim and Me”.

The pail that holds the milk today, he used to fill with beer

But he's not spent a cent for drink in now almost a year;
Just look into the cupboard, sir, there's sugar, flour and tea,
That's what our God has done for us -- has done for Jim and me.

Graham published at least eight editions of Songs for Jesus, the first being a hymn book without music. These books were particularly conceived for revivals and gospel meetings, as seen in his subtitle “The Book You Need for Revivals.” His tunes appear in many other song books as well. One commenter stated that Graham believed his songs were gifts from God, and therefore did not copyright any of his work so others could use them.

Books compiled by Frank Monford Graham

  • Songs for Jesus (words only) Before 1902
  • Songs for Jesus: the Book You Need for Revivals, Pelzer, SC: Frank M. Graham, Cincinnati, OH: Armstrong & Fillmore, 1902
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 2, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, Cincinnati, OH: Armstrong Printing Company, circa 1905
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 1 and No. 2 combined, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham; Cincinnati, OH: Armstrong Printing Company, 1906
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 3, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, 1910
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 4, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, 1911
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 5 Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, 1914
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 6, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, after 1914

A picture of the Graham family can be found HERE

* Graham does not take credit for these words in Songs for Jesus. Some sources credit them to Merritt A. Stipp. 
** It is my (unproven) assumption that Graham traveled south to help reestablish the Wesleyan Church there.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Divine paradoxes

"We find realised in our own souls those heavenly contradictions, those divine paradoxes, that the wiser we get, the greater fools we become (1 Cor. 3:18); the stronger we grow, the weaker we are (2 Cor. 12:9, 10); the more we possess, the less we have (2 Cor. 6:10); the more completely bankrupt, the more frankly forgiven (Luke 7:42); the more utterly lost, the more perfectly saved; and when most like a little child, the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4)." -- J. C. Philpot

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A benefit of religious liberty

"One of the great benefits of religious liberty is that it offers us a way to deal with competing claims to moral and metaphysical authority. We can seek to accommodate the religious and conscientious objectors in such a way as to respect their right to exist and not to yield to a questionable new social orthodoxy....The logic of accommodation allows a nation such as the United States to house members of both camps by reducing the friction between winners and losers. If we take a strong view of religious liberty, we encourage peace between citizens instead of war because we acknowledge their right to exist and to avoid crises of faith and conscience." -- Hunter Baker

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lesser Magistrates

“Primary Duty of Lesser Magistrates is Threefold: First, they are to oppose and resist any laws or edicts from the higher authority that contravene the law or Word of God. Second, they are to protect the person, liberty, and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction from any unjust or immoral actions by the higher authority. Third, they are not to implement any laws or decrees made by the higher authority that violate the Constitution, and if necessary, resist them.” -- Matthew J. Trewhella, The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government

“Duty is that which a person owes to another, or by which a person is bound to another, by any natural, moral, or lawful obligation to perform. Duty is any action required by one’s position or by moral or lawful considerations.” -- Matthew J. Trewhella

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Pastor's Response, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.