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An Angel from on High, easier and better

There are a few transitions in this version that may require a bit of practice for smoothness, but not as many as you might think. That’s one reason I tabbed it in C, instead of the key of G, as it’s written in Hymns. The other reason is that I have tendinitis, which makes my left hand lock up when I play in G. I got it from years of twisting my left wrist so I could see what my left hand was doing. If your guitar teacher tells you not to look at your left hand, there’s a reason!
The (slightly) hard transitions are in the fourth measure of the first line and the third measure of the last line, where you have to go rapidly from a barred GIII chord to an F note on the first string. All you really have to do is slide the left hand down to the F, but you’ll want to lift your fingers from all the strings during the slide, to avoid sliding noises. You may also find the pull-off in the third measure of the second line difficult. The trick is to leave all the fingers in place except the barring finger, then use that finger to do the pull-off.  This is actually the easiest way to make the change, at least for me.

The second and fourth measures of the third line require you to play the CIII as a barred-A, a barre chord that gives lots of people problems.  This could be done in other ways, but none lends itself to the quick series of rapid chord changes required so well as the barred C, F, and G progression. If you have trouble with barred-A chords, you may be exerting more pressure with the left hand than the chord really needs. Done properly, this type of chord is not really hard to play at all, but the finger placement has to be exact, using good technique, with the fingers arched, and only the tips contacting the strings. Many beginners try to muscle this chord instead of learning it right, then wonder why it seems so hard.

A word about the tempo.  Switching from 6/8 to 4/4 does more than change the count. The speed of the music also increases dramatically. If you are playing more than one verse, you can play the second part in 8/8 instead of 4/4, which will make the last two lines slow and lyrical instead of quick and bright. You might also consider strumming more of the chords instead of pinching them, as shown in the tab.  The bright sound of the pinches sounds really good played near the bridge, giving the piece a real “guitar” sound, especially when played a bit faster than is normal when accompanying singers.

This song is intermediate level, and is in the public domain.

Nearer, My God, to Thee, YouTube video

Click here for the video.  A good headset is helpful, as the guitar is rather quiet, but the tone is excellent.  Thanks to Jason Booth for this one.  His picking is impeccable.  Nice classical guitar, nice intro and finale (Jason's own).  Thanks for sharing this one, Jason.  And thanks for the credit, too.  Let us know if you do any others!  Best way to do that is to join the site and click on my thumbnail pic to send a message.  I answer all legitimate emails.  Or, you can comment on the song post.  I don't check comments on old posts every day, as there's a lot of spam to wade through.  So member messages are still the best way.