Harmonia Sacra

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Title page of 25th ed.

Harmonia Sacra is a hymnbook published in 1832 by Joseph Funk (1778-1862) of Mountain Valley near Harrisonburg, Virginia. Remembered as "the father of song" in Northern Virginia, Funk was a pioneer leader, teacher, author, translator, and publisher of music. The book originally bore the title, A Compilation of Genuine Church Music (Winchester, VA., 1832, pp. 208 long octavo), but was renamed Harmonia Sacra in the 5th edition (Mountain Valley, 1851) with the first title continued as subtitle. This music textbook, in a 25th edition (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1993), has reached a total issue of nearly 100,000 copies.

Designed for use in singing schools, the book contained a variety of meters, all harmonized for three voices (four since the 11th or 12th ed.) together with "a copious elucidation of the science of vocal music." Four syllables, faw, sol, law, mi (the master note), seven since the 1851 printing, were used. As an aid to reading the notes in the various keys the compiler invented "patent" or character notes, a different shape for each syllable, which with slight modifications persist in a number of modern hymnals.

In addition to the theoretical part, the book is composed almost entirely of hymns and anthems, a considerable portion of which is of very high quality. Many of the songs look at the Christian life as a pilgrimage and in joyful mood anticipate heaven.

In 1847 a hymnal adapted for church use was compiled from selections drawn from the book and published under the title Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. This new book was used widely in Mennonite churches and became a source from which in 1902 the Church and Sunday School Hymnal was compiled.

Additional Information

Harmonia Sacra website

Author(s) Chester K Lehman
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Lehman, Chester K. "Harmonia Sacra." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 26 Mar 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Harmonia_Sacra&oldid=56892.

APA style

Lehman, Chester K. (1956). Harmonia Sacra. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 March 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Harmonia_Sacra&oldid=56892.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 664-665. All rights reserved.

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