I’m in the Boston area for a visit, and stopped in to sing with Norumbega Harmony, one of the oldest local singings of the northern urban revival. Norumbega Harmony has a monthly open singing which is advertised to the public — but according to their Web site, their weekly singing is not advertised, and while new local singers are welcome to attend they ask for a somewhat serious commitment. Visiting singers are of course always welcome to drop in and sing.
This is perhaps the friendliest local singing I have yet attended. They all knew each other, and chatted among themselves between songs, but they made sure to include me in their conversations. They did introductions right after the singing started, which also felt very welcoming.
Norumbega Harmony sings from at least four different books: the Denson book, their own Norumbega Harmony, the Sacred Harper’s Companion (a collection of new tunes), and The Northern Harmony. Several of them also sing West Gallery music regularly — that’s an English predecessor to Sacred Harp music, and there’s regular West Gallery singing in the Boston area — and it wasn’t sung tonight, it was much talked about. And several of them had just been to the Jeremiah Ingalls singing in Vermont the previous weekend. So this was not your average Sacred Harp singing focused only on music from the Denson book.
In fact, we didn’t sing much, perhaps a quarter of the tunes, from the Denson book. Another quarter of the tunes came from The Northern Harmony, a third from Norumbega Harmony, and the rest from the Sacred Harper’s Companion. Nearly all the tunes were from the eighteenth century, the very early nineteenth century, or the late twentieth century. I recall one mid-twentieth century tune, nothing from the mid-to-let nineteenth century (except the one I led), and nothing from the twenty-first century.