Challenging songs, Part II: 160 ADMIRATION

May 21, 2012 by

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As a follow up to my previous post on challenging songs, here’s another example of a difficult song that we may or may not include in the book.  Lemuel Babcock’s ADMIRATION (ShH 160), from The Columbian Harmony (1793), illustrates one of the challenges of the shapenote system: making key changes in the middle of a piece.  (Of course, the song was originally published in round notes, so that wasn’t an issue for Babcock.)  ADMIRATION was also in the first shapenote book, The Easy Instructor (1801), but the entire song is in the minor key.  We think the key change should be singable with a strong leader and tenor section—notice that the tenor’s “la-fa-mi” fugue entrance is repeated by each part in turn, so everyone else has a chance to hear the figure first.  And there are some tasty moments in the song.  What do you think?  Is this song worth the risk?  I happen to know it’s a favorite of our very own D. L. Hunter!


  1. Fynn Titford-Mock

    Yeah! Worth it – leave it in!

    • Dan says this was the song that first turned him on to the Columbian Harmony (1793). Yeah, it’s powerful!