Another new setting of a tune from Southern Harmony. Several of the Southern Harmony hymn tune names have their source in the Hebrew Bible. Every lazy person’s (like me) guide to the universe (Wikipedia) says “ancient Idumea or Edom, [was] a historical region south of Judea and the Dead Sea. This Wikipedia article on Edom ( has considerable information, including a map. A detail about the sources of Idumea (or Edom) is this: “The Hebrew word Edom means “red”, and the Hebrew Bible relates it to the name of its founder, Esau, the elder son of the Hebrew patriarch Isaac, because he was born “red all over”. As a young adult Jacob, Esau’s brother, stole Esau’s birthright by deceiving their aging father into thinking Jacob was Esau. Jacob for ‘red pottage’. The Tanakh [Hebrew Bible] describes the Edomites as descendants of Esau.

“This hymn tune is another that’s new to me. I think it captures the longing for a home and the feeling of isolation in a remote desert.

Author: Hilton Kean Jones

Composer and performer, retired college music professor, lyricist.

2 thoughts on “Idumea”

  1. Yes, you’re right. Folk music from the Appalachian mountains and Southern USA and the countries from which many of the people had immigrated long ago share a harmonic system that’s also the foundation of most East and Southeast Asian music. It’s called “pentatonic,” meaning it’s based only only 5 notes. Classical European music and music from South Asia is based of scales of more than 5 notes, although if you go back far enough in world history, even those systems have their roots in pentatonic music.


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