from "Triangles, Squares, Circles, and Diamonds: The "Fasola Folk" and Their Singing Tradition." by Ron Pen, pg. 239-257
In The Music of Multicultural America

Edited by Kip Lornell and Anne K. Rasmussen


1997, Pisgah Church, Woodford County, Kentucky. Kentucky State Sacred Harp Convention.

From the Memorial Lesson, sung at the Kentucky State Sacred Harp Convention, Pigsah Church, Woodford County, Kentucky. At the Memorial Lesson, members of the singing group who have passed away during the year are remembered with some words of eulogy and the singing of a song which had special meaning for them. On this recording, "The Promised Land" was dedicated to the memory of Dr. John Stephenson who was President of Berea College and a respected singer in the Kentucky community. In listening to the music you will note that the singing style is less "professional" and not as "polished" as most choral groups. It is important to remember that these are just ordinary folks, not trained singers who are singing. There are no rehearsals leading to a final performances in front of an audience in this type of music.

There are four vocal parts: treble, counter, tenor, and bass and each line has a separate melody, although they sound as though they are moving rhythmically together in harmony. The song begins with everyone singing the shapes on their individual part. Then they sing three verses of text interspersed with a refrain or chorus that keeps returning with the line, "I am bound for the Promised Land."

Recorded by Ron Pen.

A man holding a book with his other arm raised talks to a room full of people in low-backed armchairs who also hold books.
Singers in the "hollow square" led by Zachary Davis at the Kentucky State Sacred Harp Singing, 2010. Photo by Ron Pen.