Vintage worship tapes and other memories

Yesterday I encountered, a site which is:

A project to preserve classic worship music from the golden era of Harvestime worship music.

Awake, O Zion!

I should explain that in the late 70’s and early 80’s, there were a series of annual bible weeks held at showgrounds in the United Kingdom as part of the Restoration movement.  Dales Week, which I twice went to, was in Harrogate.  There was also Downs Week in the south of England.  I think the New Frontiers week in Stafford is more or less the successor of these, although I could be wrong.

The worship was recorded, and cassette tapes could be purchased.  I’m not sure if I ever actually bought any of the tapes, but I did buy the Songs of Victory songbook, which I still have somewhere.

The tapes themselves were played endlessly by people that I knew who were involved in the movement.  I can hear some of those songs as I write, for they are embedded deep in my mind.

These tapes should be preserved.  They are part of the musical history of the charismatic movement in the United Kingdom.  Yet they never existed other than on cassette tape, and I imagine most of the copies have deteriorated by now.

The site owner has digitised what he has into MP3 format.  The results are pretty clean and clear, but somehow less impressive than in my memory.

What is needed, of course, is a remaster based on the master tapes.  But the Harvestime organisation has long since disbanded.  I wonder where the master tapes are?  I wonder who even knows about these things any more?

The site owner has been deterred from distributing the files because he is quite unable to determine who, if anyone, he needs to ask for permission to do so.  At the time the idea of copyright in recordings of Christian worship was ridiculous — that much I remember myself — and the idea of licensing the use of new songs only appeared during the 80’s, as a response to the difficulties that congregations had in precisely this problem.

Yet these things should be online.  There’s no money in this.  But there are people out there who would like to hear these memories of their youth again.

13 thoughts on “Vintage worship tapes and other memories”

  1. Wow that brings back some memories. My dad had most of those tapes. I’ve converted a few of the Anglia Bible Week worship tapes to MP3 (which Bryn Jones spoke at). Shame about the copyright troubles. I’d be tempted to go with the easier to ask for forgiveness than permission approach myself 😉

  2. Well done! The more you can convert the better, you know? You don’t have the “Songs of Victory” tape, do you?

    Your approach is mine. I really don’t believe that people will sue over this, or should.

  3. If I remember I’ll see if my dad has still got the Songs of Victory tape when I visit at Christmas. Hopefully its not been thrown out. I mainly converted loads of sermon tapes. The only two Bible week worship tapes I’ve converted are 1985 and 1983 Anglia Bible Weeks.

  4. I’d be grateful if you did. I never owned a copy, but I remember it very well, since it was the first bible week I attended after being converted.

    I’m delighted to hear that you’ve converted loads of the sermon tapes too! Well done! You don’t have a list, I don’t suppose? What are you doing with the results? (he asks, tentatively).

  5. What do you think now, of that movement? Was it of God? I know that God blessed many people (including myself) through it. There were also some aspects to it that were less than good. How should we regard R1 and R2 now, I wonder (I’m sorry, I don’t know your own position).

  6. Roger, thank you so much for mentioning the site! As I am mentioning in a personal email to you, I am seriously considering the issues you have raised about the copyright stuff. Thanks again!

  7. Glad to help. I’ve also had some success finding contacts associated with the original organisation, via David Matthew. But I have also found that the Restoration magazine is on sale in PDF form, by permission. Which leads one to suppose that someone, somewhere, is paying attention to this.

  8. Hi i was a helper and down bible week and would like to get hold of the cassette version which i use to have but got stole several year ago in a robbery.

  9. I have a cassette of Downs worship here in California. It still plays. I loved those songs and memorized some to use in my church here on the west coast. Didn’t understand anything about copyright then. My friend traveled from here to Downs week specifically to encounter God and she did. Came back changed.

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