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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.

2 comments:

Kathryn said...

Don!

Count me in as one of your new, avid readers!!! I am so excited to have stumbled upon your website - since I am in the process of learning to play (well the very beginning stages of teaching myself. Lets be honest.) I hope you don't mind if I "follow" you on my blog! Thanks for all the work you have put into tabbing out the hymns! Any tips for beginners on how to get started learning to "teach ourselves to tab out something." would be great. I have no idea how to get started learning to read "I am a child of God" for instance and playing it for my young children. Love. This. Website!! What a cool service project you have made. :)

Don Fallick said...

Hi, Kathryn! If you join the site, I can answer your questions by clicking on your picture and emailing you securely, and you can contact me by clicking my picture. There are lots of older posts with tips for beginners on reading tab, chord theory, etc. Don't feel bad about "I Am a Child of God." It's one of the hardest I've tabbed--NOT for beginners! It's also the absolute, unchallenged, all-time favorite of my readers, accounting for more than half the pageviews. I wish there was an easier way to play it!