The Sacred Harp tradition of southeast Georgia has certain unique qualities. Singers not only beat time with their hands--a technique common to most Sacred Harp singers-- but they also walk time with their feet. Tempos are slower and melodies are more ornamented, characteristics that reflect a strong influence from Primitive Baptist hymn singing. The texts in Primitive Hymns by Benjamin Lloyd, a hymnal used by many Primitive Baptists, often are sung to Sacred Harp melodies. Until 1994, the southeast Georgia tradition remained largely unknown to the national community of Sacred Harp singers. Since then, singers from around the country visit Hoboken and have invited local song leaders to teach singing schools as far away as Seattle and London. Scholars and singers of Sacred Harp now recognize "Hoboken style" as one of the great singing traditions in the United States.
Singing for worship gives a sense of grace and purpose to the singing. Tunes that were memorized from The Sacred Harp are used in churches like Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, Charlton County, shown here.
Photo by Laurie Kay Sommers, 1997. .