What Are Shape Notes?

Melody Publications is pleased to announce the arrival of the Shape Note edition of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs. This edition offers your favorite selections in the classic shape note notation loved by generations. The notes used in this book are consistent with the traditional seven shape system, and implement 'moveable Do' for ease of use.

Shape notes provide a different shape for each note in the music engraving, simplifying sight-reading and harmonies. By indicating the degrees of the scale through shapes, a key signature is not required to understand the appropriate pitch, thus reducing the complexity of part singing.

Comparison of round notes vs. shape notes.

Existing for several hundred years, the original shape note designs were four shapes instead of the seven modern ones. These four-note systems were used in enduring publications like 19th century "The Sacred Harp" and "The Christian Harmony." To this day, many regularly meet to sing out of these old books, particularly in the southern United States.

Singing schools, like those led by William Billings or Charles H. Gabriel, used shape notes extensively. Many found shape notes to be a powerful tool in training students to read and sing parts.

Our prayer is that this Shape Note Edition of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs will be a worthy addition to these foundations of Christian hymnody, and that it might spark a renewed interest in Singing Schools and vocal harmonies. Preservation of hymns begins with burning a love for these sacred lines within generations to come. Teaching them to love and sing these indelible songs is our goal.

The Shape Note edition exactly mirrors its round note counterpart. All the hymn history, scripture references, and restored stanzas that you have come to love are joined with the benefit of shape note notation.


Colossians 3:16

Melody Publications is focused on reawakening the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.



All rights reserved. Without the express written permission of the publisher, this publication may not be reproduced or transmitted, whether in whole or in part, in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, storage retrieval system, recording, or any other.

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