UK Sacred Harp Convention

Bristol – 2019


Sacred Harp singing is a form of traditional, unaccompanied community harmony singing. The tradition as we know it today comes from the southern states of the USA, but the music can trace its roots to a number of places and time periods.

Our tradition knows neither rehearsal nor performance, and, like our convention, is open to all – regardless of background, age, religious belief or musical experience.

The UK has a thriving Sacred Harp community, and events are held up and down the country throughout the year. The United Kingdom convention has been held annually since 1996 and is one of the largest Sacred Harp singings outside the United States.

Our 2019 Convention will be hosted by the Bristol Sacred Harp singers at the Trinity Centre. It will draw together singers old and new, young and old, from across the British Isles and from further afield, for a weekend of singing, friendship and fellowship.

Find out more about Sacred Harp music:

Twenty Three Years of the UK Sacred Harp Convention

In 1996, the first two day singings, known as Shapenote Conventions were held. For the first three years, the Conventions were two book singings using The Sacred Harp (Denson Edition, 1991) and The Northern Harmony, and aimed at attracting those who had been taught by Larry Gordon and brought up on Northern Harmony shape note music. Since 1999, the Convention has been a single book singing, using The Sacred Harp (Denson Edition, 1991).

Year Location Convention Chair(s)
1996 Hitchin, Hertfordshire Steve Fletcher
1997 Hitchin, Hertfordshire Judy Whiting
1998 Beeston, Nottinghamshire David Cooper
1999 Beeston, Nottinghamshire David Cooper
2000 Beeston, Nottinghamshire David Cooper
2001 Cumnor, Oxford Edwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Smith
2002 Cumnor, Oxford Edwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Macadam
2003 Cumnor, Oxford Edwin Macadam
2004 Letchworth, Hertfordshire Ken Baddley
2005 Letchworth, Hertfordshire Ken Baddley
2006 Witney, Oxon Mandy Townsend
2007 Witney, Oxon Mandy Townsend
2008 Marsden, West Yorkshire Judy Whiting and Chris Brown
2009 Marsden, West Yorkshire Judy Whiting and Chris Brown
2010 Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire Mick Verrier
2011 Stannington, South Yorkshire Sarah West
2012 Winnersh, Berkshire Michael Walker
2013 Framwellgate, County Durham Cath Tyler
2014 Stannington, South Yorkshire Hannah Land
2015 London Erin Johnson-Williams
2016 Bristol Matthew Parkinson
2017 Stannington, South Yorkshire Vicki Elliott
2018 Brighton & Hove, East Sussex Catherine Roberts
2019 Bristol Steve Brett

The East Midlands Sacred Harp Convention

The East Midlands Sacred Harp Convention was founded in 2002 by Helen Brown, Ruth Steggles and Ian West, who felt that Sacred Harp singing in this country had grown strong enough to support a second two day singing.

A two day Convention has the potential for greater variety in pace and more flexibility in programming than a one day singing. This has allowed innovations such as the use of a second song book – The Sacred Harp (Revised Cooper Edition, 2012 – alongside The Sacred Harp (Denson Edition, 1991).

The East Midlands Convention continues to be held every year on the fourth Sunday in April and the Saturday before, at the Village Hall, Kegworth, Leicestershire.

Local Singings in the UK and Europe

Singers meet regularly all around the UK and Europe. For more information, visit the UK Sacred Harp & Shapenote Singing website:

For more information about the Sacred Harp book itself, visit the Sacred Harp Publishing Company website: