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Be Still, My Soul

My daughter Amy requested this hymn. If I’ve got it right, [NOT QUITE!  See Amy's comment.]  her best friend had just died suddenly, her husband was recovering from a triple stroke, and she also had to cope with her three-year-old,  autistic son, while holding down a major ward calling. One of her Relief Society sisters sang this hymn to her. It was the first time she had heard it.  The message, the melody, and the gorgeous harmonies really impressed her. They’ll impress nearly anyone, but they were perfect for her at that moment. This is for you, Amy.


This is NOT a song for beginners!  Even though it's all strummed, and slowly at that, with no arpeggios or melody notes, the chords are not easy.  For those who are not afraid of barre chords, it's not too bad, but there are a few unusual ones.  The harmonies and gorgeous chord progressions make it worthwhile to learn them, though.

It's in the key of F.  No, it's not any better if you transpose it.  The first line is the easiest, containing only normal C and F chords, plus a Cmaj7, which is an easy chord to play, and sounds great.  If you have trouble changing from F to C and back, you'll want to get some help before you tackle the rest of the song, as these are about the easiest changes in the song.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  It's not easy, just worth it.

The next line basically repeats the chord progressions of the first line, but one octave higher.  Instead of Cmaj7, there's a Bb, for a slightly different harmony.  It's just a barred A.  If you're still with me, you've pretty much got it licked.  The rest of the barre chords are just variations of the barred E and barred A, played at different frets.

The  Dm/Av in the third line is only unusual in that you DO play the bass string.  This is necessary for the melody.  Read the name of this chord, "D minor with an A bass, barred 5th fret."  Don't let the Roman numerals throw you, they only describe where the barre goes. Play the rest of the chords as shown in the chord charts.


The count is mostly a straightforward 4/4, but it's syncopated, because each verse begins on the SECOND count of the measure.  I have put in underscores to show how the notes are extended over several counts.  For example, the chord played for the word "soul" in the second measure is extended for three counts, while the chord for the word "on" in the next measure is held for one-and-a-half counts.  Thus, the bold face & under the word "thy", to show it is only half a count.  Trust me, it comes out even.  If this does not make sense to you, click HERE to listen to an a capella version.  After you hear it once, you should have no trouble.  You'll want to get the beat right, as this combination repeats in every line.

At the end of the song, I have included the finale, but also the repeat sign.  You can either repeat from the next-to-last verse, or play the final measure and stop.

Comments from beginners

I welcome comments, if they pertain to the music.  I get a lot from beginning guitarists.  If you have a question or comment that's too long or that you don't want to share with everyone, email me HERE.  Here's a response I wrote to Melissa, who asked about the difference between strumming and picking:

IN GENERAL, tabs are for picking, and cheat sheets are for strumming.  To see the difference, check out both links to "Dream a Little Dream of Me",  which I have posted in both forms.  Some of my tabs are arranged for strumming AND picking. They will say at the top of the first page, "Strum all chords."  In other tabs, where some chords are to be picked and others strummed, the strummed chords are indicated by a wiggly line at the left of the chord.  In all cases, though, it is possible to strum any of the chords, whether so marked or not.  All of these tabs are my own arrangements, and I've written them the way I like to play them.  You may have different preferences.

If you just want to accompany singing, by all means, just strum the chords, and disregard the tab.  Usually this will work fine, but sometimes I leave out a chord, when I only need a single note from it, and that note is covered in the tab.  I never mention this, either in the tab or in the posting about the tab, because the songs on this blog are intended for instrumental guitar solos. 

A good source for those who want to accompany singers is the book, Hymns, Simplified, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It's arranged for easy piano, but also contains guitar chords, with chord charts at the back of the book.

If I had unlimited time, I would add a section of cheat sheets to the blog, but I also have a full-time job, two major callings, and a HUGE family.  If you would like to write cheat sheets for the blog, send me a couple to review!