UPDATE: Our friends Becky, Leland, Cheri, and Ivy in Northampton recorded JUDGMENT ANTHEM! You can hear and download it from Soundcloud.
I just completed a new shape-note edition of Justin Morgan’s JUDGMENT ANTHEM, available for download here. It’s a real choral showpiece, with multiple key changes and solo sections. Asahel Benham first published JUDGMENT ANTHEM in his Federal Harmony in 1790. It was the first anthem ever published in shapes, appearing in the first shape-note book, Little and Smith’s Easy Instructor (1801), and continued to be popular among early shape-note publishers, including Davisson and his contemporaries. It appeared in Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (1813), Davisson’s Kentucky Harmony (1816), Carden’s Missouri Harmony (1820), Moore’s Columbian Harmony (1825), and several other books.
Whether by accident or design, Little and Smith changed the anthem in several significant ways, and these changes were copied in all the subsequent shape-note printings that I’ve seen. In addition to my goal of producing a modern typeset version on a minimal number of pages (10), I also aimed to restore the original 1790 version of the piece as best as possible, with the addition of shaped notes. I’ve listed my editorial changes on the last page.
To get a sense of the JUDGMENT ANTHEM in popular culture, read this selection from Gerald Stanley Lee’s Mount Tom: An All Outdoors Magazine, 1906. (This whole essay is a satirical account of the “wars” over church music at the time–definitely worth a read!)