Bloomington Sacred Harp

Shape note singing in and around Bloomington, Indiana since ~ 1978

Singings this month

Regular 2nd and 4th Tuesday singings 7-9 pm from the red book and Shenandoah Harmony (loaners are available).

We will be meeting at Barb’s house – blue house at 520 W 6th St. Come in the back door off Jackson St.

Coffee and tea and snacks always provided!

Indianapolis singings

Join the Indianapolis singers Saturday June 29 1-3pm at the Harrison House
1230 N Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

3rd Tuesdays 7-9pm at North Meadow Circle of Friends
1710 N Talbott St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Swarens Memorial Higher Ground All-Day Singing Indianapolis Saturday 3/23 9:30am-3pm

The Swarens Memorial All-Day Singing is Saturday, March 23, 2024 from 9:30am-3pm with a potluck dinner on the grounds around noon. There will be a new location in Indianapolis at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 6050 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208. We will be singing from the Red Book (1991) and Shenandoah Harmony. Loaners are available. Contact Sarah at for more info.

Plan to arrive at 9am to register and enjoy some breakfast treats. MAP: 6050 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208.

Click the image below for the Facebook event link

We meet on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays (and 5th Tuesdays if there is one) each month and All-Day Singings…

Hi! We’re a group of Sacred Harp singers in Bloomington, IN. Sacred Harp, or shape note singing, is a tradition that dates back to our country’s founding. We gather regularly to sing with and for each other, with no accompanying instruments. What does it sound like? Like nothing you’ve ever heard before. However, if you’re familiar with Bluegrass music, you may recognize some tunes like, “Wayfaring Stranger,” or hymns like “What Wondrous Love is This?” Tunes range in style from rousing and jubilent, to contemplative, to mournful. Ours is a tradition that emphasizes participation and we welcome you to come join us and, yes, we’ll loan you a book!

One more thing, you don’t need to have a trained or “good” voice, just the desire to sing and learn!

YES, we are meeting. Masks are optional, BUT do not come if you have flu symptoms or a fever. We can’t wait to see you!

Bloomington singings are currently held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday (and 5th if there is one!) of each month from 7-9 PM at the blue house on the corner of 6th and Jackson – address is 520 W 6th St, Bloomington, Indiana. Look for the orange sign at the gate and enter in the back door off Jackson Street.

New to Sacred Harp or “Shape Note” music? The best way to learn about this style is by attending an “All-Day Singing,” and one is about to happen…

Watch this video and interview with a member from the Bloomington group:

Loaner books are provided. We sing from both the 1991 revision The Sacred Harp and The Shenandoah Harmony. We even have some Cooper books we use periodically.

Two years ago, we sang at the Fountain Square Mall around Christmas time. Thanks to Randy West for the photos!

*Some photos posted by Ursula from our recent Rust Memorial All-Day Singing:
A few of us somehow still had voices after the 5-hour event!

What’s going on this Summer?

John Hoerr with shape note singers at the Indiana State Fair

UPDATE: The Second Annual John and Loraine Bayer Memorial Singing will be held on Sunday, July 14, near Dayton, OH. We will sing from from 9:30 to 3:00 with Dinner On The Grounds at mid-day. (I hear the acoustics are “magical.”)

It will be held at Bear Creek Old German Baptist Brethren Meeting House, west of Dayton Ohio at 185 South Diamond Mill Rd, New Lebanon, OH ( about 1/4 mile south of intersection with US Rt 35.

This genuine tribute to a wonderful Sacred Harp couple will be held in an acoustically magic venue. Please come and join us! – John Bealle

Seeing how the Summer is already flying by, I thought it would be efficacious to post some upcoming Shape Note events that you may want to visit during an upcoming day-trip or to incorporate into a longer vacation. For a more extensive list of updates, check out our Google Group site and consider giving us a heads-up on our Facebook group. You’ll find our local meetings listed here.

For starters, how ’bout a singing that has a 167 year history? This was posted by Sarah W. on our Facebook group.

…y’all should consider the Chattahoochee Convention when planning summer trips! Located at Wilson’s Chapel, about an hour outside of Atlanta, the Chattahoochee Convention is the oldest surviving Sacred Harp Convention (having been established in 1852). It takes place on the first Sunday and the Saturday before in August. This year, that will be August 3-4. You can turn it into quite the vacation! The Sacred Harp Museum is in Carrollton, GA, B.F. White is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, and the Raymond Hamrick collection in the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University contains rare Sacred Harp historical documents and an unparalleled hymnal collection. Also two weeks later is Camp Doremi (7-note camp) in North Carolina! C’mon down y’all! We’ll have a nice dinner on the grounds, grab a glass of lemonade or sweet tea and sing a few tunes!

19th Annual Exeter All-Day Singing, Pennsylvania.

Date: Saturday, June 15, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm
(Registration at 9:30 am)
Please join us for the Exeter All-Day Singing to be held at the historic Exeter Friends Meetinghouse, 191 Meetinghouse Road, Douglassville, Pennsylvania. We will sing from the 1991 Denson edition of the Sacred Harp. All are welcome regardless of experience. There is no admission for the event. Loaner books will be available. More.

July 6-7 103rd Henagar Union Convention, Liberty Baptist Church, Henagar AL (Directions from Bloomington, IN)


3rd annual East Kentucky Double All-Day Singing

Join us in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains for our 3rd annual East Kentucky Double All-Day Singing! This full weekend includes singing Saturday from the Sacred Harp (1991) with dinner on the grounds of the Calvary Campus, and Sunday from Sacred Selections (a 7-shape mountain gospel book) with dinner on the grounds of the historic Hemphill Community Center.

And while you’re here, enjoy local opportunities to experience live old time and bluegrass music, traditional mountain dancing, more home-cooked food than you can imagine, and an Old Regular Baptist communion service with lined-out hymnody. Housing/location/travel details.

Aldridge Memorial:

Sunday, June 9th 2019. Aldridge Memorial – Pleasant Hill Church (Johnson School House), Fayette County AL, on Hwy 44, Old Fayette Road. Info: Elene Stovall, Bridget Kennedy or Joan Aldridge.

Where are you headed? Let us know here.

We usually go up to sing at the Indiana State Fair around mid-August. Stay tuned for details…

Local Paper Features Bloomington Sacred Harp Singing

The following article is posted in full with permission from The Herald-Times. The photos have been added by Aaron.

Oct 21, 2018) Music lovers can shape their weekend around a shape note singing event that’s become a tradition in Bloomington.

Shape note singing also goes by “sacred harp” — referring to the human body (like a harp) as an instrument. Developed in North America from 1770 to the mid 1800s as a way for teachers to instruct students how to read music and sing, it shared a comeback with the revival of folk singing in the 1960s.

Reading music can be difficult, and scores can be exceedingly complicated. Sight singing — picking up a piece of sheet music and immediately trying to grasp the tune, rhythm, key and tempo — is even harder. And for singers, it can be daunting. Read more…

15 years of All-Day Singings in Bloomington

Coming up in just a few days, join us for the 15th Annual Bloomington All-Day Sacred Harp Singing. The event takes place at Fairview United Methodist Church (600 W 6th St) on Saturday, Oct 27th, 2018. We will sing from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with a traditional potluck dinner on the grounds at noon. *Local singers are encouraged to bring a dish to share.

Providing a hearty meal is just one little way we can care for the folks who travel, in some cases, 100s of miles to join us! Read more…

Bloomington now hosting Two All Day Singings!

The 23rd annual Higher Ground (Darrell Swarens memorial) Singing is moving to Bloomington, Indiana. It will take place on March 23, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Fairview United Methodist Church with a traditional dinner on the grounds at noon. Please stay tuned for updates and feel free to ask any questions on our Facebook group page. *We hope to sing from The Missouri Harmony book in addition to the The Sacred Harp, 1991 edition–loaner books will be available. Stay tuned for updates!

The 15th annual Bloomington All Day Singing is set for October, 27, 2018 in the same location (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) with a traditional dinner on the grounds at noon. RSVP here and help us share this event on Facebook:


Check back for updates! Read more…

Photos from the Bloomington All Day Singing

On Saturday, October 21st, I believe we had a record number in attendance for the 14th Annual Bloomington All Day Sacred Harp Singing. Around 80 people joined us over the course of the five hour event from many states–singing 70+ songs. Special thanks to all of the visitors from out-of-state and local media, WFHB and The Herald Times, for covering the event!

Put it on your calendar for next year- Oct 27th 2018. RSVP here:

A post shared by Aaron Jones (@aeronious) on

We hope you’ll join us at our next local meeting time, again, at Fairview United Methodist Church. 600 West 6th St. Bloomington, IN. You’ll find us in the church basement, 7pm-9pm. Remember…




A Message from Moira Smiley

1936166_105800615853_3060082_nOne of the reasons I became interested in Shape Note music was from hearing Moira Smiley sing in Bloomington, IN. One particular concert took place as part of the Bloomington Early Music Festival. I was hooked.

I decided to reach out to Moira to see if she would do a personal video talking about the influence of Shape Note music on her music and also to help us spread the word about our upcoming All Day Singing. Here is her response. Down below, I’ll post some of Moira’s music. Update: This post is from 2016. This year’s All Day Singing takes place on October 21st. Details here.

Read more…

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