The conversation was something about the nature of Sacred Harp, and the fact that we happened to be singing in a church building. But, said one person, this isn’t religion for us.
There are others in our Sacred Harp group for whom the religious content is quite important. But I think for most people who sing with us — as for most people who sing in the northern urban revival — this isn’t about religion.
Irving Lowens says somewhere that the 18th century New England singing schools were a form of popular music; they were entertainment more than religion. Maybe we have returned to that; in this minor way, perhaps the urban revival is truer to the 18th century roots of the singing school than is traditional Southern Sacred Harp singing.