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Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy

This is one of my favorite hymns, both to sing and to play. There are very few "grace notes" in it; nearly all of it is melody. The few grace notes are put in parentheses, in light face type. You can safely ignore them if you only want to play the melody. You can also substitute the regular C chord for all the different C chords, the regular F for all the F chords, and the regular G for all the different G chords, if you are not comfortable with barre chords. It won't sound as nice or follow the melody as well, but will be perfectly fine for accompanying vocalists.


I usually play the first F as a regular, four-string F, just because the chord change from C and back is easier that way, and it's a very fast change.

The transition F(I) to F(V) may be hard to make rapidly, if you are not used to playing these chords. It is perfectly acceptable to avoid the change by playing all the F chords in the tenth measure the same. If you do this, it sounds much better if you leave out the F(I) chord and substitute the F(5) chord, rather than the other way around.

It's also perfectly OK to make the final C chord a normal one, without the G bass, if your pinkie isn't up to it. But it sounds a bit thin for a finale. The full, six-string chord sounds much better to end the song on.

It wouldn't hurt to put tremolo on the E note on the third string in the next-to-last measure. That's why I play it in the 9th fret of the third string, instead of just playing the first string open, which is the same note. When performed as a guitar solo, this piece sounds better with lots of pauses, holds, and tremolos. I like to use these forms of expression to emphasize the words of the hymn that feel most important to me at the time I am playing them. You cannot be too expressive with this song-- the more expression you put in, the better your audience will like it, even at the risk of totally losing the rhythm!

This song is in the public domain.

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