When Georgians B. F. White and E. J. King compiled the songbook, The Sacred Harp, in 1844, they were continuing a singing tradition, which would ultimately become identified with the book. Thousands of southerners would be exposed to music through the singing schools taught from The Sacred Harp.
Sacred Harp singing or Fasola singing uses four shapes to identify the notes to be sung and is performed without the assistance of musical instruments. Traditionally the singers solmize or “sing” the notes, using the syllable “fa,” “sol,” “la” and “mi” prior to singing the words. The singers gather at “singings” and “conventions” to perform the music. These gatherings are usually great social events and once were often the center of rural community activity, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Holly Springs church very early became the site of what was to become one of the most popular of the 20th Century Sacred Harp singings in the country as the tradition spread far beyond the South.