Around 2005/06 I picked up a freebie Naxos sampler CD which featured, amongst other gems, a wonderful version of “Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal” by a mixed-sex choir whose name tragically escapes me. This version by Chanticleer is similar although all-male voice.
“Hark! I Hear The Harps Eternal” has a wonderful sense of the democratic, expansive, optimistic world of American popular religion – which it turns out it was very specifically written for:
“Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal” is a shape-note hymn. In mid-eighteenth century America, shape-note singing originated out of a desire to assist people who were largely musically illiterate in singing music on sight. The basic idea was to give people a visual cue as to the note of the scale they were singing