Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Harps at Historic Hanover House

We had such a fun time playing at Historic Hanover House! Located at Clemson University, the house was celebrating its 300th birthday and we were honored to be invited to play.

We enjoyed the beautiful Christmas decorations and absolutely LOVED the old piano! The label on it assured us that the piano maker (Joseph Kirkman) was the Grand Piano Maker for Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. My, we are moving in exalted circles here! :)

We played on our harps as well as the old piano and the many people who came to visit seemed to enjoy it. Just for fun, we not only played Christmas carols from the time period, but also some folk and classical music that would have been played then as well. 

For those who are used to seeing us in our Civil War era clothing, these outfits look a little different! This is "regency" attire - the same date as the old piano (1811-1820). The dresses made us feel so elegant - although they were a trifle cold as the weather that day was in the 30s!

We hope you can come see us live at some of our other gigs this year, but remember that you can always bring us home with you - on CD! :)

We have two Christmas CDs, as well as CDs of historic American music. When people ask us which CD is our favorite, we tell them that we only play our favorite music - so they are ALL our favorites! You'll have to look at the song titles to see which CDs include YOUR favorites!

We hope you have  very merry and music-filled Christmas season!



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Saturday, October 1, 2016

In the Sweet By and By

If you love our version of "Lorena," you will likely also enjoy "In the Sweet By and By." After all, the music was written by the same man!

There's an interesting story behind the writing of this beloved hymn. The lyricist, Sanford Fillmore Bennett, tells what happened. 

"Mr. Webster, like many musicians, was of an exceedingly nervous and sensitive nature, and subject to periods of depression, in which he looked upon the dark side of all things in life. I had learned his peculiarities so well that on meeting him I could tell at a glance if he was melancholy, and had found that I could rouse him up by giving him a new song to work on.

"He came into my place of business [in Elkhorn, Wisconsin], walked down to the stove, and turned his back on me without speaking. I was at my desk. Turning to him, I said, 'Webster, what is the matter now?'

"'It’s no matter,' he replied, 'it will be all right by and by.' 

"The idea of the hymn came me like a flash of sunlight, and I replied, 'The Sweet By and By! Why would not that make a good hymn?' 

"'Maybe it would,'” he said indifferently. Turning to my desk I penned the words of the hymn as fast as I could write. I handed the words to Webster. As he read his eyes kindled, and stepping to the desk he began writing the notes. Taking his violin, he played the melody and then jotted down the notes of the chorus. It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn."

It is said that someone just entering the store stood listening to the impromptu quartet. With tears in his eyes he exclaimed afterward, "That hymn is immortal!"

Our version of this beautiful, comforting hymn is available on Amazon and iTunes.

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

Refrain:
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Carolina In The Morning

"Carolina in the Morning" was written way back in 1922 but it remains a popular song nearly 100 years later! The list of artists who have sung it is long, including Al Jolson, Danny Winchell, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Jimmy Durante, Dinah Shore, Judy Garland and Danny Kaye. It has been featured on shows like "I Love Lucy," "My Three Sons" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

The song was written by Gus Kahn (words) and Walter Donaldson (music), neither of whom lived in the Carolinas, oddly enough! It debuted on Broadway in 1922.

Since we are from South Carolina, we personally think the lyrics are quite appropriate! 

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning
No one could be sweeter than my sweetie when I meet her in the morning
Where the morning glories twine around the door
Whispering pretty stories I long to hear once more

Strolling with my girlie where the dew is pearly early in the morning
Butterflies all flutter up and kiss each buttercup at dawning
If I had Aladdin's lamp for only a day
I'd make a wish and here's what I'd say
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning


Available on "Joyful Harps Encore!" or as an MP3 download.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Need A Stocking Stuffer? Beautiful Music on Sale!

We're barely past Halloween (or Reformation Day, in our family!) and already the Christmas music is playing in stores. Unlike many people, we love it!

Christmas is more than one day a year. Christmas is a celebration of Christ coming to earth to save us from our sins. This gift from God the Father to us is the essence of amazing grace. And it's something we're thankful for all year, not just on December 25!

We love to mirror the Father's loving gift by giving gifts to our friends and family this time of year. And so we want to give YOU a gift too!

This holiday season, we are putting all of our CDs on sale!

PLUS we are giving you a package deal of our 2 Christmas CDs for only $15!!

PLUS we will give a free, handmade harp Christmas ornament to all of our friends who order 5 or more CDs!!!

It's our way saying "Thank you" for supporting and encouraging us to make beautiful music for you.

We wish you God's blessing this holiday season!
~Heather & Raquelle



Sunday, October 4, 2015

For the Beauty of the Earth

Folliott Pierpoint was a scholar who lived in Bath, England in the 1800s. He was just 29 when the beautiful countryside inspired him to write what is now a favorite harvest hymn: For the Beauty of the Earth. But he didn't write it as a harvest hymn.

Pierpoint originally intended the poem to be eucharistic, that is, a hymn sung for mass or the Lord's Supper. The chorus he wrote reflected that intention. It said, 

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

He even titled it "The Sacrifice of Praise," which was how it appeared in an 1864 hymn book. But later the words were slightly altered to says instead:

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Since then, it has become associate with the season of harvest and thanksgiving. At a time when we reap and gather the Lord's material blessings in our lives, it's good to step back and not only thank Him but appreciate the non-material blessings He has given us as well.

For the beauty of the earth
For the Glory of the skies, 
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies: 

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night, 
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r 
Sun and Moon and stars of light 

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child.
Friends on earth and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

For each perfect gift of Thine
To our race so freely given.
Graces human and divine
Flow'rs of earth and buds of heav'n.

Chorus
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

This hymn is found on our "Joyful Harps Hymns" CD or you can purchase the song as an MP3 download.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I Wish I Was In Dixie

Dixie was written by Daniel Decatur Emmett, composer of other enduring favorites like “Blue Tail Fly” and “Old Dan Tucker.” Emmett was actually a Northerner, one of the famed Bryant Minstrels.

As the story goes, in 1869 the Bryant Minstrels were playing at a theater on Broadway but they were losing creative energy. One Saturday night Jerry Bryant, the troupe leader, decided the show need some new songs to generate enthusiasm among the audience. So Bryant asked Emmett to write a new grand finale song—and have it ready for rehearsal Monday morning, please.

Now, the typical minstrel shows of that time included parlor songs, caricatured mock-opera comedies, and scenes and music relating to life on a Southern plantation. Then there would be the grand finale. This grand finale was what Emmett was supposed to write.

So Emmett sat down to think out a song but he wasn’t feeling inspired. The day was rainy and cool and he sat in the kitchen glaring at the rain, wishing for the warm, sunny days of the South. “I wish I was in Dixie,” he muttered. That was it! Struck by his own words, he quickly penned the words and music.

When the song was first performed, even though Bryant opted not to use it as a grand finale, it became an instant hit and spread across the nation.

In December, 1860, John Dwight, the editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music wrote that the orchestra at a St. Louis theater played Dixie before the curtain rose on a play. A few moments later one of the actors stepped out for the opening scene—but the crowds roared for “Dixie” again. The audience would not settle down and the actor stormed furiously off the stage. The manager appeared.

“Gentlemen, what means this ill-mannered confusion, what do you want?” he bellowed in a rage.

“Dixie!” the audience thundered.

“Well, you can’t have it!” he thundered back. “You’ve had ‘Dixie’ once tonight and you’ll have ‘Dixie’ no more!” He walked off, thinking he had settled the matter. But as soon as the actor reappeared on the stage, the crowd roared for “Dixie” even louder than before. Fine! Down went the curtain, the orchestra played “Dixie” one more time, and everyone was happy and sat back quietly for the play.

“Dixie” was played at Jefferson Davis’s inauguration, linking it inextricably to the new Confederacy, and helping to establish the song as the unofficial national anthem of the South.

Interestingly, it is said that "Dixie was also Abraham Lincoln's favorite song!

Some Southerners objected to the slapstick nonsense words of the song. Henry Hotze, a reporter from Alabama who was sent as a delegate to England to spread sympathy for the Confederate cause, expressed wonder about the, “magic potency...in those rude, incoherent words, which lend themselves to so many parodies, of which the poorest is an improvement on the original.” The “rude incoherent words” are still a favorite today though, so apparently no one heeded his criticism.

Nonetheless, Albert Pike, a judge on the Arkansas Supreme court, apparently decided the words to the song needed a little help, so he wrote “The War Song of Dixie,” the version that begins—

“Southrons! Hear your country call you!
Up! Lest worse than death befall you...
To arms! To arms! To arms! In Dixie!

This version would prove very popular as well, in addition to many other spoofs, parodies, and alternate versions. Today Dixie is still a wildly popular song in both the North and the South.

We have two versions of Dixie on our CD "Joyful Harps 1865" - a slow version and a fast version. You can buy the CD by clicking here or you can buy the MP3 files in our shop.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

In The Garden

The hymn “In The Garden” is based on the text in John 20, where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. Here's part of that passage: 

Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Mary was deeply grieved. But then the beautiful part of the story occurs - Jesus appears. But she didn't recognize Him!

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

At the sound of her name from his lips, she realized it was him. Comfort flooded her soul. Many times when we are going through trials, we have Jesus present in our lives but simply don't recognize Him.

But Jesus is gentle with us too. In the same way He did with Mary, Jesus makes His presence known to us and speaks quietly to our spirits, reminding us that we are His dearly beloved child. As the hymn says,

He walks with me & he talks with me & he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.

"In The Garden" is available on our CD "Joyful Harps Hymns" or you can buy the MP3 in our shop.