Yesterday was shapenote singing in Palo Alto. A particularly strong singing. And with several singers new to the group, which is always gratifying, along with many regulars. Among the regulars was one with a family background in the Sacred Harp tradition: Marian’s father went on the circuit teaching singing schools in West Texas back in 1903.
After two hours of singing, we repaired to the kitchen and dining room for cheese and bread and salami — and two cakes made by our host, including a sinfully gorgeous chocolate cake in honor of Marian’s 94th birthday. Yes, 94th, and Marian is still singing away and leading songs like the rest of us.
This being Silicon Valley, the chocolate cake came decorated with 94 in binary: 1011110, with candles for the 1s and Lifesavers for the 0s. We sang “Happy Birthday” for Marian, robustly and with excellent improvised harmony (well, what we do is four-part a cappella music).
All very touching. And during the singing the weather began to clear and warm up. (When we sang 335 “Return Again”, Marian guffawed helplessly at the line “Grant us, Lord, a gracious rain!” As it happens, no one chose 188 “Spring” — “The rain is gone, the winter’s past” — or “Rose of Sharon” — “The rain is over and gone”. But, for at least the next week, the rain is indeed over and gone, and we are spared the flash flood warnings. Grant us, Lord, no more rain, however gracious.)