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Regret, Repent, Rejoice {Repeat}


The Sacred Nine Singers perform:  Regret, Repent, Rejoice {Repeat}: the shockingly dogmatic life cycle that defines the antebellum shape-note tune book, Southern Harmony.  Please see for full details on the project and the concept.
Sunday, October 7, 3:00 P.M
Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church
3900 St. Charles Ave. New Orleans, LA 70115

You think you know the beloved tune book, Southern Harmony, but do you really?  This famous collection is where we first see the text of "Amazing Grace" paired with the tune that we know.  Equally amazing is that it also contains a song warning that Catholic idol-worshipers should be burned at the stake.  We also first find "What Wondrous Love Is This" in it's familiar text-tune combination in Southern Harmony.  However, you might exclaim, "What Twisted Texts are these, O My Soul!" when perusing an admonition to young people to avoid spending eternity with "fiery fiends."  You may think you read "A Female Convert," at the top of one of the pages; instead, you actually read "The Female CONVICT," a sweet if morbid lullaby sung to a baby by its mother the night before she is to go to the gallows, for having committed, one assumes, a sin of the Scarlet Letter variety.
I sought out Southern Harmony (SH), in the Fall of 2017, simply because I wanted one of the original sources of HOLY MANNA, which I wanted to arrange for church choir.  When I started leafing through the virtual facsimile, I was shocked to say the least, not by the attitudes expressed in these "fringe" pieces, but because these backwards, austere values seemed too raw to be put in meter and rhyme.  This is surely why the more shocking songs have fallen into oblivion.  However, they need to be resurrected, along with the time honored pieces listed above, as well as "Rock of Ages," and "On Jordan's Stormy Banks."
Growing up Southern Baptist, hellfire and brimstone was as familiar as butter to biscuits.  Here's the drill, in my experience (and I'm being "flip" to get the point across): we are awful people and should be very ashamed (REGRET); the cure for the shame is to get saved (REPENT); then all is well, because you go to heaven when you die (REJOICE).  Most of the hymns in SH can be categorized as such.  The Sacred Nine Project is my form of activism.  The judgment, racism, and fear of the "other" seems to be making a comeback.  Let's see these Southern, antebellum works revived in all their beauty (and darkeness) to shine a light on how far we've come and also how far we have to go! 
The concert consists of my original arrangements of fourteen SH selections, all containing one verse lifted from the original collection virtually untouched.  There will also be audience singing at the concert.  Please come and join us!
Thank you! 


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For more information contact: C. Leonard Raybon via email to