Macedonia Baptist Church began the annual all-day singing of praise known as Sacred Harp, commonly known as fa-sol-la singing (cannot be accompanied by any musical instrument) on the 4th of July, 1870.  (Photo by Faye Gaston)

Macedonia Baptist Church began the annual all-day singing of praise known as Sacred Harp, commonly known as fa-sol-la singing (cannot be accompanied by any musical instrument) on the 4th of July, 1870.  (Photo by Faye Gaston)

By Faye Gaston

The Bullock County Historical Society met at the Presbyterian Church on July 12, 2021, the first meeting held since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the handout of information was the history of the celebration of the 4th of July with the annual "Sacred Harp" singing at Macedonia Baptist Church.

The material revealed that twelve residents in the Macedonia area met to organize a Missionary Baptist Church on November 29, 1840. In 1855 a committee was appointed to "lay off a burying ground."

There were originally two cemeteries, one on church property and a community cemetery south of the church cemetery. About 1940, the church secured a deed to the community cemetery and joined the two cemeteries.

In 1869 colored members of the church were dismissed by letter to join the church of their choosing. In November 1875, Macedonia Baptist Church was one of nine Baptist churches to form the Centennial Association.

The residents of the community came together on Monday, July 4, 1870, for an all-day singing of praise known as Sacred Harp, commonly known as fa-sol-la singing, which cannot be accompanied by any musical instrument. The first session was enjoyed so much the group agreed to make it an annual affair. Throughout the years afterward, the Union Springs Herald newspaper reported on the singing.

The Herald of July 13, 1880, reported that two thousand people are said to have been in attendance on the singing exercises at Macedonia on Sunday, July 4.

Quoting the July 7, 1930, Herald, "The great event of this locality, the annual Fourth of July singing at Macedonia Church, has come and gone. This was indeed a great day of handshaking, feasting, and meeting of old friends. There were large numbers in attendance, not only from all parts of Bullock County but many from Pike, Montgomery, Barbour, Macon, and other counties.

"This singing convention which still uses the Sacred Harp songs, was organized about 1872 by John S. Terry, John Faulkner, A.C. May, B.B. and Geo. Champion, and others. The convention has not missed celebrating the fourth at this place a single year since its organization, and not one single tragedy has occurred to mar the convention in all these years, a most remarkable record when the number attending these conventions is taken into consideration, and the large number of fatalities that take place annually in other parts of the country on the Fourth of July. It is estimated that there has been an average of attendance at these conventions of about 2,000."

A schedule of the day was given in the article. A chairman and secretary were elected. A song was sung, and a prayer was offered. Two classes were held, and lunch was served in the recess. Then there was an afternoon class. Leaders were named. Singers from a distance were named. Old-time friends who had moved away and returned to enjoy the day were named. "Refreshments of ice cream and cold drinks of all kinds were served by Messrs. J.O. and A.T. Roughton. All in all, the convention was a great success."

Macedonia (Southern Baptist) Church has continued to serve the surrounding community and its people through the years and continues this service today.

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