Campus News 2007

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2007

Schreiner University Choir to sing ‘Sacred Harp’

The Schreiner University Choir, under the direction of Dr. Phil Summerlin, will offer a presentation of Sacred Harp music as part of Living History Day, at 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, in the historic Union Church at the intersection of Broadway and Water streets.

“Sacred Harp” refers to the human voice and is the name of a 19th century hymnal. It is a style of religious folk music that is also known as shape-note music. Sacred Harp music is sung a cappella, and uses minor keys and an unusual four-part harmony. Many people will be familiar with it without knowing the name; it was used in the movies “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and “Cold Mountain.”

Dr. Phil Summerlin

Dr. Phil Summerlin has a Bachelor of Arts from Abilene Christian University, a Bachelor of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Seminary. He is active in the Sacred Harp Music Association, and the brother of Schreiner president Dr. Tim Summerlin.

“Dr. Phil Summerlin recently retired after a career that took him from the ministry to social services work in Appalachia and East Texas to a brief stint with Exxon to over two decades as a hospital chaplain in Georgia and Tennessee and as the director of the clinical pastoral program for chaplains at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN,” Dr. Tim Summerlin said.

“He could read and write at 3, turned down an invitation to a Sadie Hawkins dance from Janis Joplin, and knows the license plate and telephone numbers (past and present) of most of his acquaintances. His love of music is deep, ranging from Flatt and Scruggs to Palestrina. He grows more and better vegetables than almost anyone that you know. He is married to Aline, has three sons, all married with a passel of grandchildren.”

Dr. Phil Summerlin also will present a master class in Sacred Harp singing at Schreiner.

For more information about this event, call Michael Kahl, Schreiner choir director at (830) 792-7417, or send him an e-mail at For more information about the University Choir, visit the Web site at

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