St. John's Lutheran Church

In the City for Good!

St. John's Lutheran Church participates in God's mission to bless, save, restore and reconcile the world through meaningful worship and faithful witness in the city of Des Moines and around the world.

St. John's Lutheran Church invites and welcomes all people to experience the Good News of God's grace, forgiveness and unfailing love. The Good News calls and empowers us to share God's love in word and deed throughout our city, nation and world.

Fine Arts

The Friends of the Arts at St. John’s supports the Arts in worship and as an outreach to artists and the greater community. All Fine Arts events are free and open to the public. If you have questions about the Friends of the Arts or would like to be active in Arts programming at St. John’s, please contact Beth Ann Edwards, Director of Arts, Handbells, and Youth Choirs ( or Larry Hanson, chair of the Arts Visioning Team ( more information about the Arts at St. John’s, please visit our website:

This valuable ministry is funded not by the general budget, but by donations from supporters and friends. Donations can be made online at or mailed to St. John’s at 600 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines 50309 (please indicate “Friends of the Arts” on the memo line). All donors who contribute $50 or more will be recognized in future programs and receive special invitations to Fine Arts events.

Friends of the Arts at St. John’s host
Sacred Harp All-Day Singing

Saturday, April 1, 9:30 am – 3:15 pm

Sacred Harp Iowa’s 16th annual all-day singing will take place in the St. John’s Chapel on Saturday, April 1. Registration begins at 9:30 am. Singing begins around 10 am, with a break at noon for a pot-luck lunch, referred to as “dinner on the grounds.”  Afternoon singing begins at 1 pm and will finish up around 3:15 or 3:30. Participants and observers are encouraged to stay for the day, but are welcome to come and go as schedules permit.

All are welcome to participate. Bring the voice you were born with—no special training is needed to sing, although an acquaintance with music reading is a plus! Loaner copies of the Sacred Harp book will be available if Sacred Harp (shaped-note) singing is new to you. An “observation gallery” (in the Fireside Lounge) will also be available; however, singing participation is the best way to experience this event.

A pot-luck lunch, an important part of an all-day singing, will take place in Weertz Hall at noon. All are encouraged to stay, and plenty of food will be available, whether or not you bring a dish to share.

This event is free and open to the public. A free-will offering will take place to cover expenses. For more information, please contact Beth Ann Edwards (

A Brief History of Sacred Harp Singing

Sacred Harp singing is a non-denominational community musical event emphasizing participation, not performance. Singers sit facing inward in a hollow square. Each individual is invited to take a turn “leading,” i.e. standing in the center, selecting a song, and beating time with the hand. The singing is not accompanied by harps or any other instrument. The group sings from The Sacred Harp, an oblong songbook first published in 1844 by B.F. White and E. J. King. The music is printed in “patent notes,” wherein the shape of the note head indicates the syllables FA , SOL , LA , and MI . The repertory includes psalm tunes, fuging tunes, odes and anthems by the first American composers (1770-1810), and also settings of folk songs and revival hymns (1810-1860). The current 1991 Edition contains many songs in these styles by living composers.

This style of singing stems from singing schools in the colonial period. Preserved in the rural South, Sacred Harp singing (also called fasola singing or shape-note singing) is making a major resurgence in cities and campuses throughout North America and beyond. Most singings last from about ten in the morning till three in the afternoon, with an hour break at noon for dinner on the grounds.


 600 6th Ave. Des Moines, Iowa  50309 - 515.243.7691 - a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America