Detroit 39t

Sacred Harp songs are identified by their page number in the Sacred Harp songbook. A song leader will call out “86!” to let the group know the next song will be ‘Poland.’ I can be obtuse sometimes and it look me an embarassingly long while to figure out why the number ‘86’ kept showing up in relation to the Polish Sacred Harp Sacred Harp group.

In some cases there are two songs printed on a single page. In those cases the leader has to distinguish between the song on the top and the bottom of the page. “39 top!” tells the group that the next song will be ‘Detroit’. On the picture of the score of ‘Detroit’ shown at the top of this web page you can see ‘39’ in the upper right hand corner.

In the minutes of a Sacred Harp singing ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ are shown by appending a ‘t’ or a ‘b’, as appropriate, to the page number. An excellent rendition of ‘39t’ is shown below led by two Michiganders at the First Ireland Sacred Harp Convention several years ago.