William Walker's Southern Harmony, first published in 1835, was the most popular tune book of the nineteenth century, containing 335 sacred songs, dominated by the folk hymns of oral tradition and written in the old four-shape notation that was for generations the foundation of musical teaching in rural America.
Born in 1809 in South Carolina, William Walker grew up near Spartanburg and early became devoted to the Welsh Baptist Church of his ancestors and to the musical heritage that church had brought to early America. Walker became a singing master, and Southern Harmony was compiled for his students in hundreds of singing schools all over North and South Carolina and Georgia and in eastern Tennessee.
Southern Harmony reached Kentucky in the company of music-loving pioneers, and today an annual singing in Benton, Kentucky, remains the only such occasion on which Southern Harmony is consistently the source of the music.
The CD included with the book contains 29 tunes, hymns, psalms, odes, and anthems, including New Britain (Amazing Grace), Happy Land, O Come, Come Away, Wondrous Love, and many, many more.