Shape-note hymnody

This is a tradition of rural American sacred music using unorthodox notations, associated with community singing schools and singings. Although the shape-note singing tradition of the 19th century flourished particularly in the South and Midwest, it spread to practically every section of the United States in the closing decades of the 20th century. Shape-note tunebooks contain introductory rudiments for reading the notation plus up to several hundred hymn tunes, fuging tunes*, and anthems. Of particular importance to congregational song are the early shape-note hymns related to oral tradition, commonly called ‘folk hymns’, for a number of these have found a place in recent major...

If you have a valid subscription to Dictionary of Hymnology, please log in to view this content. If you require a subscription, please click here.

Cite this article