COPYRIGHTS & PERMISSIONS: All arrangements and tabs in this blog are the original work of the blog owner, unless otherwise noted. They may be downloaded and copied at no charge, only for non-commercial church or home use. All other rights reserved. Ask for permissions-- I intend to be generous. Copyright information for each song is listed in its commentary. Arrangements and tabs of public domain songs are still covered by these copyright restrictions. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Heark, All Ye Nations

This song is in the public domain, which is good, as it’s a sprightly song that’s fun to play.  The tempo is fast, the chord changes are fast, and there are a few interesting chords, but none that are especially difficult for intermediate guitarists who can cope with normal barre chords.  There are a few minor challenges, though.

The first occurs right in the very first measure.  The ligado --2__0-- on the third string is nearly impossible to do well, if you do it as a normal pull-off.  But it’s easy if you treat it as a “push-off” instead. Push the string toward you and away from the fretboard, plucking the string with the back of the fingertip, instead of the front edge, as in a normal pull-off.  This is still called a pull-off, but the motion is the exact opposite to what you’re used to.  It may seem odd at first, but is much easier and faster than pulling, at least in this circumstance.  Other pull-offs and hammer-ons are done normally.

The first measure of the fourth line also has a few tricky spots.  If you leave the left hand fingers in the C chord shape, and just fret the D on the 2nd string with the pinky, you are actually forming a C9 chord, so there’s no reason to change your hand position.  For this reason, I have shown the index finger position in the chord chart for C9 in lightface type.  It’s not actually part of the chord, but there’s no reason to remove it.  Hit the A on the 3rd string by flattening the middle finger while releasing all the other fingers, preparatory to moving the hand up to the III position for the GIII chord.

Play the G6III in the next measure by moving the pinky from the 4th string to the 2nd string.  This is really easy, because it’s still in the same fret.  Hold the other notes of the chord while doing the pull-off that converts it back to GIII.  Technically, it’s really a G7III, but since you’re not playing the F on the 4th string, but only letting it ring, the difference is academic.

Hit the C note on the 3rd string by flattening the ring finger.  Hit the A note on the same string by moving the barring index finger to the II position.  From here, it’s just about as easy to slide up the neck to the III position and play a CIII, as it is to continue down the neck and play the C/G as written.  I like the sound of the C/G better, so I have called it out in the tab, but you can play it either way, as all the notes of the two chords are identical.  Just the order is different. 

C/G = G-C-E-G-C-E

The first measure on the second page contains another one of those “push-offs” again, exactly like the first measure of the song.  The next measure shows an FI chord, though it’s actually a continuation of the C chord from the previous measure.  But the last chord of the measure is an FI.  Since only the 2nd and 5th strings are being played at the beginning of the measure, and the notes are the same in FI as in C, there’s no reason not to make the change at the beginning of the measure, where you have more time to do it.

In the next-to-last measure of the line, you may have trouble with the double hammer-on:
--0__1__3--.  If you cannot do both, just do whichever is easier for you, or sounds better to you.

Play as many or as few verses as you like, then substitute the last two measures as shown.  Each triplet takes the same time as a single count of the other measures, so practice until you can get them very fast.  Do the quick changes between the GIII and the CIII by flattening the pinky across the strings briefly, then "unflattening" it.  Then slide quickly up the neck to the VIII fret for the final riff.  Sometimes I strum the entire CVIII chord instead of playing the final note, for a fuller sound.

Amazing Grace

Unusually for this blog, this song is meant to accompany a vocalist, at least in the second and third verses.  Words are provided for the first verse, for reference only, because the pattern picks can be confusing, but DO NOT SING THEM.  For those who may not be familiar with pattern-picking, I have provided detailed, line-by-line instructions.
The first time through is just an  instrumental introduction.  Play it simply, to state the melody, without a lot of expression.  In the seventh measure, there’s a slightly tricky slide that needs to be done with the pinky. Slide very fast, from the third fret clear up to the ninth.  Don’t hold that note at all, but drop it immediately and return to the third fret, to play the Gadd5 chord, fretting the extra note with the ring finger..  If you are OK with barre chords, you can substitute a GIII  for the Gadd5, which makes for an easier chord change.  But the barre chord isn’t necessary, as Gadd5 actually sounds better here.

The hammer-on/pull-off in the tenth measure is not hard to do if you release the chord first.  The rest of the introduction is straghtforward.  Remember to count out the timing, so you know where each note starts. 

Verse 1 is NOT sung, but is pattern-picked.  The pattern refers to the pattern in which the fingers of the right hand pick the strings, not the specific strings picked, or the acutal notes played.  The verse contains the same 3-/-9 slide as the first verse, played the same way. There is also a tremolo to hold the G note in the next measure. Do this tremolo by moving the “a” finger (left hand) ACROSS the string, rather than ALONG the string, as usual. Most guitarists find this easiest to accomplish by holding the finger rigid and vibrating the whole hand.

Verse 2 is meant to accompany the first SUNG verse. Play the whole verse with the right hand THUMB, not the fingers.  Use a slow, even tempo, and don’t try to fancy it up. You want to back up the singer or singers, not distract the audience from them. There are LOTS of verses to Amazing Grace. Repeat this instrumental accompaniment through as many as you like, but switch to Verse 3 for the last sung verse.

Verse 3 is almost identical to Verse 1, but play it softly, behind the singer(s).  Then reprise the instrumental solo of the Introduction, ending with the last two measures as shown.


The chords in this song are easier to play than many of my other arrangements, as there are NO barre chords required!  Even the three “advanced” chords called out in the tab are not especially hard, being only slight variations of the basic C - F -  G

Cadd5 is just a regular C chord, with the G note added on the first string with the little finger of the left hand.  It is actually just a C chord, but the G note (the fifth note of the scale) is emphasized because it is the highest note played.

F/C is read as “F with a C bass.”  Add the “extra” note on the fifth string with the little finger. This emphasizes the C note by making it the lowest note of the chord, a position normally reserved for the note that gives the chord its name (the “tonic” note).

Gadd5 is the only one of the three “advanced” chords that requires more than merely adding a note, though that is the effect.  Play it like a regular G, but place the “a” finger (the ring finger) on the 2nd string, and the little finger on the 1st string.  It’s called the “a” finger from“anulario, the Spanish word for ring.  Most classical guitar terms come from Spanish, for example: “p” is for pulgar, Spanish for  thumb.  Also, “i” is for indicio (index or pointer), and “m” for medio (middle).  Classical guitarists do not normally use the little finger of the left hand, which is a good thing, as it is either called muňeca (for wrist, which it is closest to) or pequeňo (little).


There are two basic pattern picks in the second verse.  Pattern A is 4-1-2-3-4-3.  If you are not used to pattern-picking, the thumb of the RIGHT hand is called the #1 finger, the index finger is the #2 finger, etc.  In the last half of the first line, the pattern changes to Pattern B:  4-1-2-1-3-1, slightly modified to  3-1-2-1-3-1 in the last measure. 

The second line returns to Pattern A, but slightly modified in the second measure by the 3 - / - 9 slide.  Play the third measure as a slow strum with the thumb.  Use tremolo to hold the G note on the first string if you have to.

The third line starts with a modified version of Pattern A, then a return to Pattern B in the second measure, Pattern A in the third measure, and a modified Pattern B in the last measure, with the hammer-on at the end of the line leading into  the patterns of the fourth line.

The fourth line of this instrumental verse consists of measures of Pattern A, followed by a slow thumb strum, exactly as in the second verse.  The singer needs to start singing at the very end of the last measure of this verse, with the first syllable of the word, “A-maz-ing”,


Although many people associate this song with Scotland and the bagpipes, or think it is a Negro Spiritual, neither is true. The lyrics were written by an Englishman, and the music was composed by two Americans, who combined a couple of popular church tunes of the day.  So far as anyone knows, it was not performed on the bagpipes until the 1970s, though it is now perhaps the most-requested of bagpipe tunes.

The lyrics were originally a poem written by English clergyman John Newton, to express repentence for his former life of slave-trading, rapine, drunkenness, atheism, and profanity so constant and foul as to embarass even his sailors-- a rowdy lot, it’s true.  It was first published in England in 1779, and remained obscure there for more than 50 years. In America, though, it was well-received, and sung to more than 20 different tunes, none of them the one we know today.

In 1829, two Americans, Charles H. Spilman and Benjamin Shaw, joined a couple of folk tunes called “Gallaher” and “St. Mary” to create a tune they called “New Brittain.”  Six years later, an American Baptist song leader, William Walker, assigned the tune to Newton’s lyrics, creating a combination that is performed about ten million times every year.  It has been recorded thousands of times. Judy Collins’ hit a cappella version topped the charts for 15 weeks in 1970. Two years later, it was recorded by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the first bagpipe arrangement ever known.

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How to tab your own hymns (humor?)

From time to time, readers ask me how they can tab-out a hymn themselves. Here's the answer.

How to Tab-out a Hymn Yourself

If a hymn you want to play is not on this blog, or you don’t like the way I’ve done it, and you can’t find it on another site, you can tab it out yourself. Here’s how, in ten easy steps:

1. Find the song in a hymn book or sheet music. If it’s an LDS hymn from Hymns, or from The Children’s Songbook, you can print the sheet music for free from / menu / study / music / music / hymns. Type the name or number of the desired hymn in the Search field. Click on the hymn name. If the hymn is not on the Church website, you’ll have to find it in another hymnal, or purchase sheet music. If it’s a popular hymn, the sheet music may be available for free online, but if it’s that popular, it has probably already been tabbed by someone else. Keep looking.

2. Play the melody from the sheet music or book. The melody is usually in the soprano line. (That’s the top line.) If you cannot read sheet music, take a course in Classical Guitar. If you live in the greater Salt Lake City metro area, you can take lessons from me, if I have a slot open. I charge $25 per half-hour lesson for Classical Guitar lessons, which is about average for Classical lessons. Be prepared to devote at least a year.

3. Transpose the melody if needed. If the melody is not easy to play on the guitar, you may need to transpose the song into another key. will do this for you. Use the key selector from the menu bar at the left of the sheet music. There are twelve keys. Try them all, and select the one that sounds the best to you. If the song is not on the Church’s website, you will have to transpose the song yourself. If you do not know how to do this, take a course in music theory from the music department of a nearby college or university. College and university tuition ranges from $300 to $500 per course. You can sometimes audit the course (take the course for no academic credit) for a lower fee, especially if you are a senior citizen.

4. Play the music, using the music player at the top of the menu bar. It may sound lousy in the new key. That’s because the Church’s music is designed to be sung, and most singers’ voices do not have as great a range as the guitar (with a few, notable exceptions). About half the time, the interactive transposer will transpose down, when you want it to go up. Don’t worry too much about this; you can always raise the pitch of the guitar by clamping a capo around the neck. (Clamping a capo around the neck of a singer does not usually work. In fact, merely trying it could get you in a lot of trouble.)

5. Try playing the chords. does not show the chord names, so you will have to read the music. (See step 2). You may have to select a different key if the chords are not easy to play. (See step 3). You can probably eliminate the keys of B and F, and any key that has a # (sharp) or b (flat) in it, as they all require the use of barre chords. If you want to learn barre chords, so you can play in more than five of the twelve keys, you will need to take lessons. Normally, Beginning and Intermediate guitar lessons cost $15 per half-hour. And up. I have a few slots open. Guitar classes are usually cheaper than individual lessons, where available, but may not offer what you want to learn, and are usually charged by the month. In advance.

6. Play the hymn as written in your transposed sheet music. (See steps 2, 3, and 5.) Add pinches, strums, arpeggios, and pattern picks of various sorts. Use ligados (hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides) to bring out the melody. Use tremolos to hold a note, and harmonics to emphasize special notes. Mix and match. If you do not know how to do all of these things, take guitar lessons. (See step 5.)

7. Practice the hymn until you can play it fluently. This can take somewhere between a few hours to a few months, depending on the song. The simplest-sounding songs may not be the easiest to play. For example, I Am a Child of God is one of the hardest songs I know. Often, the most beautiful songs are extremely hard, such as Til There Was You, the love song from The Music Man, which took me a year to learn, practicing five times every day. Once you can play the hymn fluently, you are ready to actually begin writing the tab.

8. Prepare a blank tab by typing six lines of hyphens. Use an equal-spaced font like Courier, where all letters and numbers are the same size, or nothing will line up correctly. I use Courier New, 10 point, bold face, which looks like this. If you are going to include lyrics, type them beneath the tab, so you will know where to place the notes.

If the lyrics are copyrighted, YOU MUST SECURE PERMISSION TO PUBLISH THEM from the copyright owner. Internet publishing counts as "publishing" under the law. You can request permission to use lyrics owned by the Church by contacting the Church music department. Expect a reply in six to eight weeks. Other copyright owners may be harder to reach, and may demand large fees. Permission is essential to avoid HUGE COURT JUDGEMENTS for copyright violation. Appellate courts have sustained judgements against ordinary folks for as much as ten million dollars. (No joke!!! It happened to a college student blogger.) [FLASH: Last week a U.S. court ruled they do NOT have to warn you before suing you, and it doesn't matter whether you are taking money, or even if you didn't know it was copyrighted.] Court judgements cannot be released in bankruptcy. TEN MILLION DOLLARS. Think about that.

9. Fill in the tab. Type each note above the correct syllable of the appropriate word. Leave at least one hyphen between notes. Open notes on a string are shown with a zero, others by the number of the fret where they are fretted. Show hammer-ons and pull-offs by typing an h or p in front of the note, or by connecting the notes with an underscore. Show slides with an s or a slash, harmonics with an exclamation point at the left of the note. (In front of the note, if you don’t know your left from your right.) Place the notes of a chord in a vertical line. For a pinched chord, leave it at that. For a strummed chord, place a wiggly line at the left of the notes. A wiggly line can be approximated by typing a stack of alternating forward and backward slashes. Type the names of chords above the tab, where each chord change occurs. Use a vertical stack of vertical line symbols (SHIFT + \) for measure bars. Many tab writers leave out the measure bars altogether. Add counting numbers, time signatures, and instructions as desired. It’s a good idea to leave some space between lines of music, by hitting the ENTER key a couple of times, for visual separation.

10. Play the tab, reading from the computer screen. Correct any errors. Print the tab out and play it again from the printed sheet. Errors are often easier to spot on a printed sheet, for some reason. Correct the errors again and reprint, repeating this step again and again, as needed. When you can play the tab through two or three times from the printed sheet, without spotting any new errors, save the file, and forget it for a while. Don't play the hymn. Work on other projects. After a couple of months, when you can no longer remember exactly how it goes, dig out the tab and check it again for errors. If there are none, congratulations-- you’re ready to start your own tablature blog!

Jesus, Once of Humble Birth

Depending on how you count, this song only has TWO CHORDS!  Well, actually, you can't really substitute a regular A chord for the Av chords, so there really are three.  Then, there's actually a couple of D chords buried in the pattern pick, but while you may hear them, you won't actually have to change your hand position to play them.  So, somewhere  between two and four chords.  Anyway, it's an EASY, but beautiful piece, if you are not bothered by the barre chord or by playing pattern picks.  I actually find pattern picks easier to play than open fingerstyle, but not everyone agrees with me on this.

The pattern starts out with a fourth finger (ring finger) lead.  In 6/8 time, the beat is:
/ ONE two three four FIVE six / ONE two three four FIVE six /. (That's two measures.)  ALL the notes are eighth-notes.  In most of the measures, each string is plucked by a different finger,  which makes the picking dead easy.  You can play the arpeggios with a flat pick, or a thumb pick if you want.  Thumb-picking the bass runs will give them a more ligado feel, which adds variety to the sounds of the notes, at the price of adding a bit of complexity to the pattern pick.  Do it whichever way works best or sounds best for you.

The only technically difficult part of the song comes in the third measure of the third line, where you have to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your little finger to reach the Ab at the 9th fret on the 2nd string.  An alternative way to play this note is to quickly slide the barring finger one fret toward the nut (4th fret), hit the note, then slide back to the 5th fret.  If you don't have long fingers, and you can slide your whole left hand quickly, without making horrible string noises, this may be a better option.  I've practiced it both ways, and it's about equal for me, but then, I have really short fingers.

There are several measures where you have to hit melody notes that are not part of the normal fingering for the chord, such as in the first line, third measure.  Use the little finger of the left hand to fret these notes, leaving the rest of the hand holding the chord normally.  This will minimize the number of chord changes needed, simplifying the fingering without detracting at all from the pattern.

A word about that pesky barre chord.  Learning this song is one of the easiest ways you'll ever find to learn barre chords.  Barre chords are easier to play high up on the neck, as the frets are closer together.  In this song, there are no fast chord changes, and each chord is held for at least two measures.  And the barred E chord position is almost universally acknowledged as the easiest one to learn.  It just doesn't get any easier than that!

This hymn is in the public domain.