Hymnals from East Armuchee Baptist Church, Villanow, Georgia, USA

If you were to ask me what are the most important things to me, music would certainly be one of the top items on that list. Looking back as far back as I can remember music has always played an important role in my life. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know music has even played its part in my family history research.

Not long ago I asked my mother, “Do you think you have any audio tapes of music from East Armuchee back in the day?”

“No,” she responded. “I don’t think we ever recorded anything like that.”

I was disappointed but told her to ask around to see if anyone might have a recording. I wanted more than anything to redisocver the sound of that rural country church from my childhood. She didn’t think anyone would have anything, though.

I have so many music memories from that church. It wasn’t a particularly learned environment for music. There were no professional musicians and no formal choir… just like Scared Harp. It was a “do-it-yourself” sort of aesthetic, and I think that influenced me a lot in life in ways far beyond music.

For most of my childhood, East Armuchee used the Christian Praise hymnal, published in 1964 by Broadman Press. Christian Praise is a shaped note hymnal and relates to the Sacred Harp in that way. But out of 471 pieces, it contains only a couple of songs actually from The Sacred Harp hymnal. We always referred to this book as “the red hymnal.” These books contain bookplates at the front indicating who donated money for that hymnal, and to whose memory it was dedicated.

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