Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pray On

One lesser known part of the family of Sacred Harp books is The Sacred Harp, Fourth Edition with Supplement, by J. L. White. In the early years of the 20th century, Sacred Harp singers understood they needed a new edition of the book to breath new life in the singings. Unfortunately, they could not agree on just how to proceed. W. M. Cooper in south Alabama went first, in 1902. James Landrum White, son of original author B. F. White, issued revisions of The Sacred Harp in 1909, 1910, and 1911  his 1911 book being the one that “took.” That same year J. S. James also issued a revision of The Sacred Harp. J. L. White’s book was a much more popular book than many realize. It made inroads in south Alabama where Cooper’s revision was popular. It vied for superiority with the book by James in the many of the same areas  Atlanta, Georgia area, Sand Mountain, Alabama, north central Mississippi. We have found old books that indicate it was once used in Texas. However, the book lost much ground after the deaths of J. L. White and his successor Sam Mann (B. F.’s grandson). The book went out of print and new copies were no longer available. With no new books available, most places that used this book eventually switched to the James (later called Denson) book. A benefactor at the Hardeman Primitive Baptist Church funded a photo-static reprint of the book in 1958. With this boost, the singers at Hardeman were able to maintain their singings to the present.

A committee was formed and a reprint (with all new typesetting) was issued in 2007. Unfortunately, it is once again out of print.

The Wootten family of Sand Mountain, Alabama, recorded some Sacred Harp songs in the early 1980s, which recording includes several songs that are unique to the “White book.” Listen to the Wootten’s singing Pray On, No. 512 in The Sacred Harp, Fourth Edition with Supplement.

The words and music are by A. R. Walton, copyrighted in 1910. Arthur Rivers Walton was a singer, composer, and worked setting musical type. He worked with J. L. White at least on the 1909 revision.

I did not find the words to this song online, so I have typed them out below.

1. When troubles come and life seems dark, pray on (pray on);
Just talk to Jesus heart to heart, pray on (pray on).

2. If Satan would your soul destroy, pray on (pray on);
The love of God will give you joy, pray on (pray on).

3. On thee my ev’ry care I’ll cast, pray on (pray on);
I’m anchored in thy love steadfast, pray on (pray on).

4. In Jesus’ love I stand complete, pray on (pray on);
And never from the foe retreat, pray on (pray on).

He can lighten ev’ry care (toil and care)
And your burdens he will share (surely share)
Now in him your faith declare
Pray on (pray on) ’till the blessing comes.

No comments: