47b, Idumea, from “The Sacred Harp”

47b, Idumea, from “The Sacred Harp”
By Management
Oct 07

47b, Idumea, from “The Sacred Harp”

One of the most famous and beloved hymns in American folk music is “47b, Idumea,” which is found in the shape-note hymnal “The Sacred Harp.” This hymnal, first published in 1844, is a collection of songs that have been sung in churches and communities across America for over two centuries. “47b, Idumea” is a particularly powerful and haunting melody, known for its rich harmonies and emotional depth. In this article, we will explore the history and significance of this hymn, as well as its enduring popularity.

The Origins of “47b, Idumea”

The origins of “47b, Idumea” can be traced back to the early 19th century. It was composed by Ananias Davisson, a prominent figure in the shape-note singing tradition. The shape-note system, also known as “fasola,” was a method of teaching music that used different shapes to represent the different notes on the scale. This made it easier for people with limited musical training to participate in group singing.

“47b, Idumea” is written in a minor key, which gives it a mournful and melancholic quality. The lyrics are a prayer for redemption and salvation, expressing a longing for deliverance from the burdens of this world. The hymn’s haunting melody and poignant lyrics have resonated with generations of singers, making it one of the most popular songs in the shape-note tradition.

Singing “47b, Idumea”

Singing “47b, Idumea” is a communal experience that brings people together in harmony. The shape-note tradition emphasizes the importance of singing in groups, with each part – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass – singing a different line of music. This creates a rich and vibrant sound, as the voices blend together in intricate harmonies.

Shape-note singing is often done in a “singing convention” format, where singers gather in a large room or open space and take turns leading songs from “The Sacred Harp.” The leader stands in the center and sets the tempo and pitch, and then the group joins in, singing with full voice and passion. There are no musical instruments accompanying the singing – just the power and beauty of human voices coming together in song.

The Legacy of “47b, Idumea”

“47b, Idumea” has had a lasting impact on American folk and gospel music. Its haunting melody and powerful lyrics have been recorded by numerous artists over the years, both within and outside the shape-note tradition. The song’s message of hope and redemption continues to resonate with listeners, transcending time and cultural boundaries.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in shape-note singing, with more people embracing this uniquely American musical tradition. Singing conventions and workshops are held across the country, attracting participants of all ages and backgrounds. “47b, Idumea” remains a staple in these gatherings, a testament to its enduring popularity and timeless beauty.

“47b, Idumea” is a hymn that holds a special place in the hearts of shape-note singers and music lovers alike. Its haunting melody and poignant lyrics evoke deep emotions and speak to the universal longing for redemption and salvation. Whether sung in a small church or a large singing convention, this powerful hymn continues to inspire and uplift all who hear it. The legacy of “47b, Idumea” lives on, a testament to the enduring power of song.

Leave your Comment