Yesterday I encountered vintageworshiptapes.com, a site which is:
A project to preserve classic worship music from the golden era of Harvestime worship music.
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.