The folks in Boston have MP3 files for a most songs in The Sacred Harp.

Or Listen to each voice separately.

A cappella folk singing according to Sacred Harp traditions.

Ballona Fasola

What to Expect at Our Singings

We started singing in May, 2009; as of April (2014) we have from seven to twelve singers, with a wider circle of singers who drop in occasionally.

Sacred Harp singers tend to be outliers: we spend 95% of the time singing, so who needs stuff in common to talk about?

We follow social conventions used by other Sacred Harp groups: out-of-town singers drop in sometimes.

Common denominator is the 1991 Sacred Harp, the most widely used songbook for social singing in America today. Typically we sing about 14 songs the first hour, then a short break, and 10 or more songs the second hour.

"Social singing" means: (1) We don't perform. (2) Everyone comes to sing; discussions can be held elsewhere. (3) We "leave religion at the door". Just as we can practice Yoga without Hinduism and the caste system, and we sing "glory hallelujah" without discussing Christianity or "distinctives".

First-time visitors who wish to call a song: suggestions below (including opting out) or see the Chestnut List.

Shy people -- some of us have practiced at home for a year or longer before making the first visit to a live singing. Whenever you're ready, we'll be there.

If you just want to listen, we prefer that you pretend you are a singer & sit amongst us with a book open on your lap.

We have copies of Sacred Harp to lend, and you can also purchase one of these. Songbooks cost $25 each. Then you can get serious about favorite song management.

If performance is what you want, plenty of choirs in Los Angeles will be glad to have you as a member. Some of us are choir singers at other times. Some of us are refugees from choirs.

Here is a YouTube of one of us (David Olson) leading a song (Shawmut #535b) in Palo Alto in August 2013. Notice the way that experienced singers team up with newbies to facilitate learning. Everyone is able to lead their own song, but there is no compulsion to do so.

Other details about our singings.

How to exercise your musical human right

to call a song


You can pass  You can chose not to call by passing.
   (Please don't say, "Oh, just skip over me.")
Or, call any of the following.
Cold Mountain songs  

#47b ("Idumea") -- minor-key song (in the movie, they don't sing the words; we sing the words)

    #282 ("I'm Coming Home") -- the one led by Reverend Monroe (Don Sutherland).

The Ladykillers

 #408 Weeping Mary. "They crucified my savior"

Recorded by Anonymous Four  

On American Angels CD.


#59 Holy Manna, #33b Abbeville, #159 Wondrous Love, #150 Jewett, #85 The Morning Trumpet, #86 Poland, #47b Idumea.

Recorded by Tim Eriksen   Of the 21 songs in Northampton Harmony listen to samples here,
the 1991 Sacred Harp has 7.

    #179 The Christian Warfare
#48t Devotion
#456 Sacred Mount
#189 Montgomery
#448t Consecration
#268 David's Lamentation
#198 Green Street

Cordelia's Dad "Spine"   #335 Return Again.

Cordelia's Dad "Comet"   #410t The Dying Californian.

Traditional hymns  S.H.I.N.A.H. Sacred Harp is not a hymnal, but it does include:
    #49 -- Old Hundredth
#45 -- Amazing Grace (aka "New Britain")
#159 -- Wondrous Love
#59 -- Holy Manna (Brethren we have met to worship)
#72 -- Bellevue (How Firm A Foundation)
(Sometimes the melodies have been slightly modified so that each of four voices have something interesting to sing.)
(Sometimes we are singing the oldest known version of the melody, which is different from the church hymnals.)

Laura Ingalls Wilder  Songs from the Little House on the Prairie and other books.
    #354 "Happy Land" (Ma's favorite song -- mentioned in every book)
#65 "On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand" (She gets into a discussion with Pa about the meaning of "Canaan" in this song.)

Songs about social justice   Will Fitzgerald's social justice song list
   Compiled by singers in Michigan & Northern Indiana for Martin Luther King Day.

Beautiful alto line   #503 Lloyd
   Not too difficult, with nice harmonies and independent alto melody in "Phrygean mode".

Slow & satisfying  Entry-level songs with satisfying harmonies:
   #28b Wells
#48t Devotion
#34b St. Thomas

Slow and mournful:   #86 Poland
"God of my life, look gently down."

Slow and exuberant:   #178 Africa
"Now shall my inward joys arise, And burst into a song;"

Moderate and pensive:   #448b The Grieved Soul ("The Therapy Song")
"Come, my soul and let us try For a little season
Ev'ry burden to lay by, Come and let us reason"

Minor key acceleration song:   #345b I’m On My Journey Home
Repeat the chorus a little faster each time until satisfied.

Any other song in the book  A list of all the 553 songs in 1991 Sacred Harp.

   Listed by popularity, nationwide: Song Use 1995-2008.
Calling from the top of this list is preferred.
(These statistics were compiled from average singers like ourselves.)
   Anytime you hear a shape note song on a recording (historical or regional), you can call that song as long as it's in the book. Generally the songs are listed by tune name (often the name of a place associated with the composer), or the first line.

Lists of Shape Note Recordings
Berkley Moore’s Recordings Index
Miriam Kilmer’s Recordings Index

You can call the same song each & every time you come, if that's what you prefer. But, once we've "used" a song, we won't sing it again during the same day.
Favorite song management.
Still not sure what to expect?
If you know of a better way to cultivate the pure human voice, at no cost, on an erratic, drop-in basis, give me a phone call (310) 410-9033 -- I'd like to know.

Back to main page.
Santa Monica Shape Note Learner's Group
Other singings in West Los Angeles area
More information on Shape Note Singing in general
Small group singings nationwide
Contact: David Olson (310) 410-9033 for more details.
Singing location: 4427 Overland Avenue, Culver City, California

We're actually about one mile from Ballona Creek.
Culver City Bus Line #3

Other goodies on this website.