On Saturday, October 25, the Michiana Anabaptist Historians will meet at Eighth Street Mennonite Church in Goshen for their fall meeting. The varied program will include an introduction to Harmonia Sacra and Sacred Harp singing and an opportunity to bring and interpret–show and tell–artifacts that embody, in some way, aspects of Mennonite history or culture.
Most Mennonite groups sing four-part, a cappella hymns, thanks to the “singing school” movement in American religious culture beginning in the early 1800s and continuing among Mennonites into the mid-twentieth century. For Mennonites, the publication by Joseph Funk, in Virginia, of the shaped note songbook Harmonia Sacra, or Genuine Church Music was a landmark in establishing four-part singing among Mennonites.
Dr. James Gingerich of Goshen, who has led a revival of “sacred harp” singing in Elkhart County, will present a brief history of the singing school in American and American Mennonite history, lead shaped note singing with a group of twenty who meet monthly to sing from Sacred Harp, and then lead the MAH audience in joining his group in singing some Harmonia Sacra songs.
The program will reveal the energy and ecstasy that the singing school movement contributed to Mennonite worship services.
The second program on October 25 will be an opportunity for all in attendance to “show and tell” about a Mennonite-related artifact from their personal, family or church collection. Depending on the number of items brought, some will be on display at tables; others will be held up and commented on to the audience, with perhaps a two-minute time limit.
Bring family Bibles and photographs only if they have a truly unique story to tell. We are hoping for many other kinds of three-dimensional objects that embody history in an interesting way.