In the past few weeks, as it became clearer and clearer that our singing year, and possibly life, will never be the same again, I have had a chance to truly reflect on what it means to be part of this wonderful sisterhood that we call Harmony, Inc.
During that reflection, I have spent a lot of time thinking about our Harmony Creed. How many of us have gotten to the point of simply reciting it as if we are asleep at the wheel? How many of us take the time to truly understand what it means to us?
During this stay-at-home time, I have been working on a history project for the Association of Harmony Queens, and as such, have been going through all of The Key-Note publications since fall of 1959. Back then, the Creed didn’t exist yet. The first iteration of what we now call our Creed was a Code of Conduct (a fun read for another time). All of a sudden, in March of 1961, the new Harmony Creed showed up in The Key-Note.
For those who don’t know, the Harmony Creed was written by a Harmony, Inc icon, Ruth Geils. In the December 1965 issue of The Key-Note, Ruth wrote an analysis of the Harmony Creed – an explanation of what each line meant to her and why it was written. Though some of the exact sentiments are a little dated, they are still very important today. Today, I would like to share those words with you, as they have really helped me to remember what our sisterhood is about!
Harmony from our hearts, as well as voices
In educational and organizational work it is essential that people learn to work happily together towards a common goal. With harmony in our hearts – towards each other, towards those we entertain and towards those unfortunate people who cannot understand what we are all about – we can accomplish our aims and purposes. Any and all bitterness over past associations that resulted in personal unhappiness must be put aside as we work in harmony together, proving that ours is a worthy cause as well as a joyful one.
Affection for each other, oft expressed
The human heart responds to affection, and the human mind functions more productively in a climate of affection, respect and understanding. Because Harmony has a larger job to do than other barbershop organizations, and the road is more uphill, it is even more important that we uplift and encourage each other in our travels together.
Radiant with our love of barbershop
It is the aura we create by singing together happily that draws others to us and convinces them that we are engaged in something special, something interesting and something worthwhile. It is important, therefore, that we not only enjoy our music together, but that we share it with as many others as we can reach.
Mindful of our principles and ideals
Harmony, Inc. is founded on the principle that democracy can and should be applied in educational, organizational and social work. It is the responsibility not only of the leaders, but of every member to guard and maintain the highest degree of democratic practices and policies in
the conduct of Harmony’s business. Free speech, free press, open discussion, rule by the majority with respect for the minority – all are part of our structure. Members of Harmony should, therefore, be familiar with their organization and take an active part in its business and in the
formation of its policies.
Outstretched hands to every race and creed
Because of our very reason-for-being, we have a responsibility to pay more than lip service to this line of our Creed. If we are to demonstrate that we believe in our own policies and justify the existence of our organization, it is important that our choruses be integrated. Only by living by our code of honor in this respect can we hope to prove the sincerity of our convictions.
Neatness in our dress and in our thinking
Neatness is another word for cleanliness which, it is said, is next to Godliness. This pertains to our minds and hearts, as well as our appearance. It implies also a neat, orderly and business-like manner and approach to our hobby and objectives. Our emotional responses should be reserved for our music.
Young in heart, for singing keeps us young
There is that about our music that is exciting and youthful, as well as nostalgic.
Inspired with our desire to grow and flourish
Only by constant, steady growth can we prove that good government policies to work and are practical. The best means we have of proving our worth as a separate organization is to attract many women who might not otherwise enjoy this hobby, and many more who find the
combination of good music and high ideals attractive.
Nourished by our devotion to our music
Ours is the only barbershop organization with a higher purpose than the music itself. Our music is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Nevertheless, from our music we gain the constant nourishment we need to fulfill our several purposes. It is, therefore, even more
important that we are ardent and faithful members and barbershoppers, receiving regular and frequent sustenance from our singing.
Constructive in our work for Harmony, Inc.
The natural outcome of accepting and living by the other letters of our Creed is that we will be constructive in our work for Harmony.
-Ruth Geils, December 1965
The rest of the story . . .
I’ve read this before but it’s great to read it again, with a new life experience filter.
I “grew-up” in barbershop under Ruth Geils’ direction. I didn’t realize at the time that I was experiencing the wisdom of a Harmony, Inc. icon, but I sat at her knee and learned not only how to sing barbershop style music but also about our roots, our history. She gave me a profound
understanding of the responsibilities that our history demands of us.
As I look back at my time with Ruth I truly believe that she was preparing me for the future roles that I would have the opportunity to play in Harmony, Inc. and I treasure her preparing me for what was to be my future in our wonderful organization. I am reminded of all that as I read again her explanation of our Creed.