I have been around Sacred Harp singings as long as I can remember. My father, Floyd Monroe Frederick, was a lover of Sacred Harp music and faithfully supported the singings in and around his community during his lifetime. My mother, Sarah Alice Mullins Frederick, did not sing but she supported my father by preparing large baskets of food to help feed the visiting singers for all local singings.
God had a place of honor at our home. Our Dad taught us to love ourselves and one another. He valued hard work, urging us to always do our best. He shared his love of music with us. With his beautiful treble voice he sang and taught Sacred Harp music in north Alabama and Mississippi. In the summertime after supper our family often sang together on the porch of our home. And oftentimes we would gather and sing at the homes of friends and neighbors who loved to sing.
My Dad carried me to singings as early as I can remember and when he would be called to direct the singing, I would go with him and hold his leg. When I could remember the tunes, I would try to sing with him. After I was grown he would relate to me some of these times which he said were joyous occasions in his life.
He composed several songs during his singing career, but never had one published in the Sacred Harp songbook until the 1960 revision. One of his songs was published in the 1958 revision of The Christian Harmony. While he was composing these songs he would delight in getting my sisters and I together in order to sing all parts.
The last singing I attended with him was at Mountain Home Church near the little town of Bear Creek in Marion County, Alabama on the second Sunday in September 1960. This was the first time that I had the opportunity to use the new 1960 revision of the Sacred Harp book. Dad asked me to direct, with him, one of the four new songs written by him that was published in this edition.
On the second Sunday in October 1960 I was preparing to leave my home in Birmingham to come to Huntsville when I received a phone call with the news that my father was in the hospital at Hamilton, Alabama suffering from a severe heart attack. He had attended the Sacred Harp singing at the Courthouse in Fulton, Mississippi on that Sunday. During the afternoon session he collapsed while directing the song "Anthem on the Saviour." He led to the place where the key changed to A Major, and the last words he spoke before he fell were, "The next we hear of this blessed Saviour." He never regained consciousness, but he left this life with a song in his heart.
[(Huntsville Sacred Harp Newsletter) Editor's Note: Paul Frederick and his wife, Peggy, have been ardent Sacred Harp supporters in Huntsville (Alabama). Like his parents before them, Paul and Peggy are faithful to support singings, including provision of large baskets of food.]