Saturday, April 17, 2021
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
Search this site.View the site map.



Singers Glen Music & Heritage Festival 2007

The Music and Heritage Festival is held every five years.  The Singers Glen opera (actually, a musical drama) tells the story of Joseph Funk and the birth of sacred song here in the Shenandoah Valley with the establishment of singing schools in Singers Glen in the early 1800s.  The Harmonia Sacra, which Joseph Funk started, is still being used today. 
The Singers Glen Music and Heritage Festival 2007 was such a success! 

The weather was lovely, the displays were interesting, the walking tour was fascinating, the music was entertaining, the food was tasty, and the presentation of the opera, “Singers Glen” was excellent.  Scott Smith, the director, and the cast did a great job!   The overall attendance was good and the crowd on Sunday afternoon was thought to be the largest ever for the opera.  Hats off to Chairman, Dale MacAllister, and the many volunteers who helped make this a success.

(Click on each photo for  a larger version.)
Singers Glen Music & Heritage Festival 2007
Photos from the Opera, "Singers Glen"  (courtesy of Gayle Davis)
A special thanks goes to Scott Smith, our director.
At the funeral of Joseph Funk's 2nd wife, Rachel. 
Joseph Funk explains shaped notes in his singing school. Joseph has his son help lead the singing.
Joseph's children enjoy musical instruments
but, what would the Mennonite Bishop, Brother Peter, say?
Mary May Angelil and Emma Foerster
(If you have more photos of weekend you'd be willing to share, please email them to

Singers Glen Music &Heritage Festival

 September 15 & 16, 2007

 Three performances of the musical drama
“Singers Glen”
Musical programs on Saturday by Just Jazzin, Appalachian Rain, Raelyn McMillion, Kenneth & Dawn Miller, and a Harmonica Sacra Sing.
Local heritage displays and traditional crafts demonstrations on Saturday.

Village walking tours (Saturday 9 & 11 a.m.)
Sandwiches, homemade desserts, and soft drinks

Singers Glen Community Center

Here is more information for your reading pleasure:
 “Alice's opera, Singers Glen, is based on the life of Joseph Funk, and includes wonderful arrangements of the shape-note hymns from his tune book Genuine Church Music."

“Shape-Note Singing in the Shenandoah Valley” 

An Address delivered to the Singers Glen Music and Heritage Festival, August 16, 1997, on the sesquicentennial of music printing at Singers Glen, Virginia. 
“Joseph Funk….. did not hit his stride as a music publisher until a relatively advanced age, but, through his own personality, and his careful training of his numerous and talented sons and grandsons, he was able to ensure the success of his work even after his death. The activities of the Funk sons, and of the Ruebush-Kieffer firm of Dayton, well into the twentieth century, are evidence of that success; so is the existence of the musical opera Singers Glen by Alice Parker. But his most valuable legacy is the continued vitality of the Harmonia Sacra, now in a beautiful and accurate edition with Funk’s introductory rudiments restored, and especially the continued vitality of a living tradition of singers who have kept the music alive and ringing for over a century and a half.  

About Singers Glen, Virginia

Singers Glen, VA is a small community in the Shenandoah Valley about 8 miles west of Harrisonburg just off US Route 33 near Shenandoah National Park. Originally called Mountain Valley, it was renamed Singers Glen in 1860 when a post office was established. Situated in one of the most beautifully scenic areas of the Shenandoah Valley, this small community is remarkable for being the birthplace of Southern Gospel music and for being the site of the publication of the oldest continually published hymnal in America.

Panoramic view of Singers Glen, VA

In 1804, Joseph Funk built a log house in what would later become Singers Glen. Originally from Pennsylvania, Joseph was the grandson of the first Mennonite Bishop in the United States (Henry Funck). In 1816, Joseph Funk published a little book of Choral-Music in nearby Harrisonburg.

Later in 1832, Funk established the first Mennonite printing house in the United States at Singers Glen and started printing a singing school manual which he entitled, Genuine Church Music (later to become Harmonia Sacra -- pronounced locally with a "long A" as in "sacred").

Still in print today, Harmonia Sacra is the oldest continually used hymnal published in America. Funk also started a singing school at Singers Glen and began training young men of "high moral character."  Joseph Funk died in 1862 and his grave is located in the cemetary at Singers Glen.

Joseph Funk's grave stone located in the Singers Glen community cemetery.  Funk's grave is located in the far back of the cemetery (which is the oldest part).
In recent years his grave stone has become unattached from its base and is now laying face up in the position shown (June, 2001). Funk family members are in the process of having the stone restored.

After his death, two of Funk's grandsons, Aldine S. Kieffer and Ephraim Ruebush took over Funk's publishing and printing business and started producing new hymn collections for Sunday schools, revival and camp meetings, and home gatherings. These new collections proved to be very popular and lucrative, consequently establishing the Ruebush-Kieffer Publishing Company as one of the earliest and most successful publishers of gospel songs.

There was nothing particularly remarkable about compiling and printing a collection of hymns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the early 1800's. Many such collections were printed in Winchester and Harrisonburg between about 1815-1860 (for example, the first Southern shaped-note tunebook, Kentucky Harmony, was printed at Harrisonburg in 1816). What makes this collection (Harmonia Sacra ) and this location (Singers Glen) of particular interest:

  • Harmonia Sacra contains the first printing of FOUNDATION ("How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord") -- originally called PROTECTION.
  • Joseph Funk also established a singing school at Singers Glen for the teaching of music to young men.
  • Joseph Funk's 2 grandsons, Aldine Kieffer and Ephraim Ruebush transferred Funk's printing house and singing school from Singers Glen to Dayton, VA in 1878 and established one of the most successful gospel music publishing companies in America, the Ruebush-Kieffer Publishing Co. In addition, they formed an alliance with Shenandoah Seminary in 1879 which eventually evolved into Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (now Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA).
  • James D. Vaughan studied music at the normal school established by Ruebush and Kieffer at Dayton in the late 1800's and went on to establish his own publishing house in Lawrenceburg,TN -- the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company.
  • James D. Vaughan became a very successful gospel music publisher, establishing offices in several southern cities including Jacksonville, TX. The manager of the Jacksonville office, Virgil O. Stamps, went on to establish his own publishing house, the Stamps-Baxter Publishing Company.
  • Together, these three publishing companies -- (1) Ruebush-Kieffer, (2) James D. Vaughan, and (3) Stamps-Baxter were the primary sources for what is now called Southern Gospel music in the shaped-note tradition.

This is somewhat ironic, because Joseph Funk originally compiled Genuine Church Music specifically to counteract the influence of the rhythmical “fuging tune” which had become so popular in the 4-shape FA-SO-LA tradition. Believing that these rambunctious arrangements were improper for “GENUINE” worship, he compiled a collection of stately choral music which he believed to be more well suited to the conservative tastes of the Mennonite congregations [Eskew/McElrath, Sing With Understanding]. What would Joseph Funk think if he heard the rhythmical strains of one of the popular Southern Gospel quartets singing throughout the south today?

See Faceplates, Prefaces and Indexes of Genuine Church Music and Harmonia Sacra (1832 - 1866)
See Harmonia Sacra (maintained by James Nelson Gingerich)
See Harmonia Sacra Music (in PDF file format) - the complete (new) 25th edition of Harmonia Sacra: viewable and downloadable.
see Shape-Note Singing in the Shenandoah Valley by David Warren Steele (address delivered to the Singers Glen, VA Music and Heritage Festival, August 16, 1997).
See "Shape-Note Hymnody in the Shenandoah Valley" (1966) by Harry Eskew, doctoral dissertaion, Tulane University.
See Joseph Funk: the Man and His Accomplishements by Dale MacAllister (2001).
See Joseph Funk: Father of Song in Northern Virginia by John W. Wayland (probably early 1940's).
See Folk Hymns of the Shenandoah Valley (from the Virginia Cavalcade, Autumn 1956).
See Singers Glen: An Historic Place; A Walking Tour (prepared by Martha B. Caldwell, Caroline T. Marshall, and J. Robert Swank. Edited by Dale MacAllister, 1977).
See Virginia's Tradition of Harmonia Sacra Sings: 'No frequency of use can wear out these venerable airs' (Gospel Herald, August 2, 1994).
See Singers Glen: An Opera in a Prologue and Two Acts by Alice Parker (program notes from a performance, August, 1994)


Check out 100 Hymn Tunes You Should Know
© 2001 Smith Creek Music
Site last updated: February 15, 2007

The Musical Drama, Singers Glen was written by Alice Parker, a renowned and respected composer, conductor and educator of choral music.

Alice Parker:   A Brief Biographical Note

Composer, conductor and teacher Alice Parker was born in Boston, MA in 1925. She began composing early, and wrote her first orchestral score while still in high school. She graduated from Smith College with a major in music performance and composition, then receiving her master's degree from the Juilliard School where she studied choral conducting with Robert Shaw.

Her life-work has been in choral and vocal music, combining composing, conducting and teaching in a creative balance. Her arrangements with Robert Shaw of folksongs, hymns and spirituals form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world. She continues composing in many forms, from operas to cantata, sacred anthems to secular dances, song cycles to string quartets. She has been commissioned by such groups as the Vancouver Chamber Chorus, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Chanticleer. Her many conducting and teaching engagements keep her traveling around the United States and Canada.

In 1985, she founded Melodious Accord, Inc., a non-profit group that presents choral concerts, sponsors workshops, symposia, and her many professional appearances. The Fellows programs have provided unique training for composers, conductors and song leaders. She has made eleven acclaimed recordings with the Musicians of Melodious Accord, a sixteen-voice professional chorus. The group has received generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Copland Foundation, and the New York State Council for the Arts.

  Top of Page
  Home Page