Sacred Harp singing lessons given at Courthouse

by Lindy Oller


John Plunkett talks about the history of Sacred Harp singing during a session organized by the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. 

As part of the events leading up to the October reenactment of the Civil War, Sacred Harp singing lessons were given recently at the historic Coweta County Courthouse.

Sacred Harp singing is a 200-year-old American style of hymn singing. Singers use shape notes to sight read four-part harmonies while seated facing inward in an open square.

The Chattahoochee musical convention first began in Newnan in 1852. The convention has been held at Wilson’s Chapel in Carrollton for many years and will celebrate its 162nd anniversary this year.

The practice of Sacred Harp singings can be found throughout the United States and in several other countries around the world.

“The Sacred Harp singings began at the historic courthouse in 1904,” said Mark Puckett, information specialist for the Coweta County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Squire J.P. Reese, also known as “Ripples,” was a well-known correspondent of the “Herald” during the 1900s. He also had a reputation as a vocalist. He was president of the Chattahoochee Musical Association and the Southern Musical Convention for several years.

Singings were held at the courthouse until 1974. The singings were relocated to a church in Madras.

The singings were held at Madras for two years. The church collapsed in 1976.

There are singings in multiple locations in Georgia. People who are interested in joining can go to the Sacred Harp singing website at

There will be another singing class at the courthouse in downtown Newnan on June 24.

For more information, go to the websites of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society or the Brown’s Mill Battlefield Association.

The Sacred Harp singing was part of the events planned by the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society – Sesquicentennial Committee and Brown’s Mill Battlefield Association marking the Civil War Sesquicentennial.

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