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By Ananais Davisson

SSATB choir, two violins (SSATB choir)
Composed by Ananais Davisson. Arranged by Richard Bjella. Octavo. Alliance Music Publications #AMP 0810. Published by Alliance Music Publications (AN.AMP-0810).

Item Number: AN.AMP-0810


Idumea (1991 Sacred Harp, page 47b) is the Latin form of the Biblical name Edom, which means red. It is a hilly land south of the Dead Sea that is now in Jordan and includes the ancient city of Petra. When Moses wanted to enter the land of Canaan via Edom, the rulers of Edom wouldn't let him. The tune was used effectively at the beginning of Cold Mountain, the 2003 American Civil War drama, accompanying pictures of the Battle of the Crater, one of the most horrible battles fought anywhere in the nineteenth century.

The tune, written by Ananias Davisson (1780-1857) from Shenandoah County, Virginia, is one of the most haunting and popular Appalachian minor songs in Southern shape-note circles. The lilt of the tune fits so well that it could have been written specifically for Charles Wesley's words. I have tried to enhance the text by changing the character rather dramatically on each verse. The phrase What will become of me? is especially moving. The phrase at the end, To see the flaming skies, is also terrifying and I have tried to allow that text to come off the page with the 'flames' appearing in the women's voices.

All the phrases of this setting are short and should be done with great conviction, but without losing the overall direction of the line and intent of the text. These are hard-working common folk singing from the inside out. In measures 69-88, the tenors sing aeh which should be bright and somewhat nasal on each fp, a bit like the word 'ate', but brighter and more spread like a bagpipe without the sustaining quality.

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  • Ratings + Reviews

  • 5

    Dana at
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  • February 16, 2011 What a stirring piece!

    One of my high school vocal students is singing this as part of an elite regional choir, and I've worked with her a bit on memorizing it. This is a new arrangement of a shape-note tune, and it is much more beautiful than the real thing. I wish...

    Sheetmusicplus had audio files to show customers what arrangements sound like -- and definitely we want to look inside the music!

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    9 of 20 people found this review helpful.
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