Harmonia Sacra Sunday

As a child, I always remember that “Hamburg Sunday” meant that most of my friends would be missing from church.

“We went the year that you were a baby. It’s really hot there in August” my parents would say. And that’s where the conversation would end.

Our little town of Singers Glen is rich in musical history. Around 1835 Joseph Funk wrote and published a songbook called “Harmonia Sacra” Eventually he opened a printing press along Main Street and at some point the town went from being named “Mountain Valley” to “Singers Glen” because of his musical presence.

Anyhow this songbook uses shapes notes and four part harmony and has been sung out of ever since. Some of the songs are very familiar. Some are not. Some are incredibly encouraging and beautiful. Others are-well depressing- like the song with about 20 verses that describes in great detail how individuals react to the stream of death. A lot is screaming and plunging at the end of every verse until you get to the last verse “To me, O death! thou hast no dread; Savior I come! Spread, but Thine arms on yonder shore, I see, Ye waters, bear me o’er, There is my home.

So that’s a quick history on the songbook. My mom grew up singing and loving all parts of the culture/experience. My dad- a Pennsylvania native was unfamiliar with the songbook and every time the book is brought out, no less than 2 hours of warbling ensues, and his tolerance/appreciation of the art is not quite as high.

And their daughters fall somewhere in between their parents on love for Harmonia Sacra Singings.

Which brings us to the “Mauck’s Meeting House” part of the story. Built in the mid 1770s, this little church in the tiny town of Hamburg, holds a Harmonia Sacra singing every first Sunday in August.

Somehow I’m always on the road this weekend, but not this year. So it was a great chance to scratch “singing at Hamburg” off the bucket list when someone requested my van driving services.

Our group arrived at the church grounds in plenty of time, so I helped myself to a tour. This church was built with actually slave quarters upstairs. And a very sketchy chimney setup.

The best part of the entire day was my enthusiastic singing partner. I love her.

As expected, the service lasted for 2 hours. As the temperature climbed, my singing zeal waned. But I hung on valiantly until the potluck lunch in the shade.

Beautiful, heartfelt worship; rich history; good food; friendly people- what more could you wish for on a 95° August day?

Hallelujah, Amen


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