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In Humility, Our Savior

So, why did it take so long for me to get around to tabbing a Sacrament song?  Well, if you think about it, Sacrament hymns are meant to be sung by the congregation, while the Sacrament is being prepared.  They aren’t often appropriate for an instrumental solo.  This one is just too pretty to pass up, though.  And it’s EASY.

Basically, it’s only three of the first chords any beginning guitarist learns: A, E and D, plus a couple of simple variations on the E chord.  In fact, the E5 “Power Chord” is the easiest chord possible:  only two strings are played, an they are both played OPEN.  The E7 chord is a little harder, requiring you to play the E chord and add your little finger on the 2nd string, III space.  Don’t try to “cheat” by using the easier, two-finger version of E7; the melody won’t come out right.

The only other chord is the optional, final barre chord (Av).  It’s printed in light face type, to show that it is optional.  Only the high A note on the first string is truly necessary, but if you play only the single note instead of the barre chord, it would be well to play it as a tremolo.

You will probably notice right away that the song begins in 3/4 time, but switches to 6/8 after the first line.  Actually, the whole song is in 3/4 time, but the counting gets confusing, so I wanted to re-cast it as 6/8.  But then, the counting in the first line gets confusing, hence the switch.  Since eighth notes are exactly half as long as quarter-notes, the tempo comes out the same.

The slow strums in the fourth and fifth lines can be performed in either of two ways.  You can either strum them normally with your thumb, taking two eighth-notes time to do so, or you can substitute a flamenco strum with the fingers, taking the same time.  If you do this, be careful to make the flamenco strum no louder than the rest of the measure.  The last three strums of the measure (up, down, up) can be strummed with either the thumb or the fingers, slightly accenting the down strum: 1-2-3-4-5-6.  If you opt for the slow strum instead of the flamenco strum, it’s easier to use the fingers for the up-down-up.  Otherwise, it’s usually easier to use the thumb.

The only difficult part of the song is the run of ligados (hammer-ons and pull-offs) at the end of the next-to-last line.  If you use the E5 chord, you can pluck the two open strings while repositioning the left hand for the hammer-ons.  In this way, you can use the strongest fingers of the left hand for the ligados.  It may still  take some practice to get it right.

One way to make the song easier is to minimize the “finger dancing” needed to hit the A notes (third string, II space) while playing an E chord.  Briefly flattening the middle finger of the left hand, so it frets the A will do it.  You can even use this trick to quickly switch between E and A chords-- sometimes.  It’s hard to do if you need the open 1st string to ring, as the flattened middle finger can damp the 1st string, producing unpleasant sounds, or no sound at all.  It works a lot better if you can bend the left fingers backwards, a little.  I can’t, so I’ve had to learn to change chords fast.  Fortunately, the E - A - E changes are among the easiest there are.

The Spirit of God

This song sounds good on just about any kind of guitar, but face it: you're not going to sound like the Tabernacle Choir, no matter how big your amp is.  They have 330 voices, and you only have six strings-- maybe twelve.  But you can still play it so it sounds really good, even "spirited." (Pun intentional).

There are only six chords in this song, but if that's too many, you can easily substitute a regular C chord for the C/G at the end, and no one but you will know.  I just think the sound of the G bass on the final chord resolves better, but it's really just a matter of preference.  Don't substitute a regualr G for the Gadd5 chords, though.  They are necessary to carry the melody, and besides, they are even easier to play than a regular G.  Just play like a regular G, but with the ring finger on the second string instead of the first string, and mute (or avoid) the first string.  Easy, huh?

Sorry, but you're going to have to play those pesky barre chords for this one.  I tried to avoid them, but the melody just doesn't sound right without them.  And they do make the song easier to play.

The tempo is a bit difficult to count, but if you know the song, you'll know the right tempo anyway.  I've included counting numbers, for those few who may not be familiar, or who just aren't sure of themselves.  If it seems wrong to you, go with the tempo you feel is right.  That's musicianship.

God Be With You Til We Meet Again

The first part of the song can be strummed with the thumb, or even flat-picked, if you like.  Most of the chords are easy, but you're going to have to play the full barre G7III anyway, so you might as well play the F with a full barre too.  If you try to substitute a regular G7, the melody will seem to go down when it's supposed to go up.  If you're only strumming accompaniment, that may be OK, but it's no good for a solo.

The second part of the song is the chorus, and is played very differently, with lots of single notes, and a few ligados, but I've tried to keep it pretty simple.  There are a few "extra" notes, which are mostly inserted to help with the timing, and for emphasis.

This tab is pretty basic, to give you an idea how the melody and supporting chord structure go.  You can easily fancy it up yourself, adding pinches, hammer-ons, etc. wherever it sounds good to you.  I never play it the same way twice.

Of it's composition history, the lyricist, Jeremiah E. Rankin wrote:
Written…as a Christian good-bye, it was called forth by no per­son or oc­ca­sion, but was de­lib­er­ate­ly com­posed as a Christ­ian hymn on the ba­sis of the ety­mol­o­gy of “good-bye,” which is “God be with you.” The first stan­za was writ­ten and sent to two com­pos­ers—one of un­u­su­al note, the other whol­ly un­known and not tho­rough­ly ed­u­cat­ed in mu­sic. I se­lect­ed the com­po­si­tion of the lat­ter, sub­mit­ted it to J. W. Bischoff—the mu­sic­al di­rect­or of a lit­tle book we were pre­par­ing—who ap­proved of it, but made some cri­ti­cisms, which were adopt­ed. It was sung for the first time one ev­en­ing in the First Con­gre­ga­tion­al Church in Wash­ing­ton, of which I was then the pas­tor and Mr. Bis­choff the org­an­ist. I at­trib­ut­ed its pop­u­lar­i­ty in no lit­tle part to the mu­sic to which it was set. It was a wed­ding of words and mu­sic, at which it was my func­tion to pre­side; but Mr. To­mer [William G. Tomer, the composer] should have his full share of the fam­i­ly hon­or.

This song was first published in 1880, and has since been translated into just about any language you could wish, including Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic.  It's the only religious song I know of that's sung by Christians, Muslims and Jews, making it one of a handful of songs with universal appeal.

New blog name

As Elder Boyd K. Packer pointed out in General Conference, "Mormons" is what others call us, referring to our belief in The Book of Mormon.  But that is incorrect. Our correct name is, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and church members are correctly addressed as Latter-Day Saints.  If we don't get it right, we certainly can't expect others to.  So, in the spirit of emphasizing the central role of the Savior in my life, I have retitled this blog.  I hope this doesn't confuse anyone.

A wonderful tribute -- "I Get Lifted Up"

An old college friend, Carolyn Wing Greenlee, has posted a wonderful tribute to her deceased friend Jim. Carolyn is a blind musician, songwriter, author, publisher and producer.  Her friend Jim was a great guitarist and Christian songwriter.  Carolyn has posted a touching and sensitive post about his death and how it taught her the meaning of the Redemption of Christ, together with one of her favorite tracks of Jim's music, "I Get Lifted Up."  I hadn't heard it before, but it's worth listening to.  I told Carolyn I would post a link on my blog HERE.  The track is at the end of her blog post, so you'll have to scroll to the end to find it, but it's worth it.  Not LDS, but definitely Christian.

I don't often post links to other people's blogs, especially if they are not related to LDS music.  This one is exceptional.  I hope you like it.