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.

Roxanne Sloan, composer

My grand-daughter, Roxanne Sloan, is seven years old.  This is her first composition.  She is taking piano lessons, but has never been taught to compose, nor to write music.  She composed this in her head, without using a piano or other musical instrument.  When asked, she said she could hear the notes in her head.  I promised her that if she would write out her composition, I would post it. Click HERE to see it.  --Proud Grandpa Don

Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains

“Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” may be the only popular Christmas carol originally composed for a Mormon choir.  It got its start in 1869, when John Menzies Macfarlane composed it for the St. George, Utah choir, which he directed.  It was first published in the December 15, 1889 issue of the Juvenile Instructor, ancestor to today’s New Era magazine.  Brother Macfarlane also composed the tune.  The song has achieved acceptance in the Christian community at large.  Few who sing it realize it is not a traditional Christmas carol.

Merry Christmas!

This song contains a lot of dotted eighth-notes and sixteenth-notes.  I haven’t put them in.  You know the song anyway.  Remember that the metronome count is for quarter-notes.  Play it fast.

The entire first line is fretted from the basic C-shape.  CaddG is just a normal C chord with the G added on the first string, to bring out the melody.  The bass note C on the fifth string forms a drone that helps to keep the rhythm steady.  Don’t leave it out-- it will help your audience follow the rhythm too.  The notes on the bass strings in the next two measures serve the same purpose.

Similarly, the second line is played (mostly) from the GIII position.  The exception is a very brief excursion into the CIII position.  You don’t even have to move the barre.  Just switch from the barred E-shape to the barred A-shape, and then right back. 

The first line of the chorus is played from the C-shape again, but the second line is different.  FV is normally played as a C-shape barred at the 5th fret.  Since many guitarists have a hard time reaching this chord quickly, I have modified it to a four-string chord.  This also eases the transition to the following CIII chord.  The arpeggios at the ends of measure 5 and 6 are for time-keeping, similar to the drones in the first line of the verse.  You can hold the G7III briefly for emphasis, if you wish.

The arpeggio at the beginning of the last line is another one for time-keeping, but the ones in the next measure are not.   They are part of the melody.  Do not leave them out!   The C/G in the last measure is just another variation on the basic C-shape.  Just add the bass G note with the left pinkie and strum all six strings.  The full sound gives a better resolution for the end of the song.

You can play as many verses as you like.  You may want to alternate pinching and strumming the chords from verse to verse,  or change the tempo, for variety.  This song is in the public domain.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Just BARELY in time for Thanksgiving-- sorry for the delay.  Anyway, here it is.  I’ve never performed it before an audience, but it’s easy enough to play, fingerstyle or flat-picked.  It’s short enough that you may prefer to use it as an introduction to a vocal accompaniment.  There are NO difficult chords or transitions, and you can leave out the hammer-ons and pull-offs if they are hard for you.  The only unusual chord is GaddD, but it’s very easy.  It’s played EXACTLY like G, but the ring finger is on the 2nd string instead of the 1st string, which is muted or not played.


Originally called “Wilt heden nu treden,” (We Gather Together),  the hymn was written by Adrianus Valerius in 1597, to celebrate the Dutch victory in their war of liberation against Catholic Spain.  Under Spanish rule, Protestant Dutch were forbidden to gather for worship, hence the title.  The lyrics and title we now know were written by Edward Baker in 1894.  These lyrics do not actually translate the Dutch, but they do preserve the internal rhyme scheme and much of the sentiment of the original.

The tune is an old, Dutch folk tune.  An orchestral score was first published in 1877 by Eduard Kremser, who also translated the lyrics into Latin and German.  For this reason, the tune is often called, “Kremser.”  The hymn became popular in the United States during World War Two, when “the wicked opressing” was understood to refer to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. 

In the United States, this hymn is usually associated with the Thanksgiving Day holiday, but in other parts of the world, and especially in Europe, it is more often considered a hymn of liberation from military conquest.  The hymn is in the public domain.

Come, O Thou King of Kings-- two versions

Another favorite from the pen of pioneer apostle Parley P. Pratt, who also wrote the lyrics to  “The Morning Breaks”, “An Angel from On High”, and “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth”, as well as several other popular LDS hymns, Most were written as poems while traveling to England for one of his many missions.  The date and specific provenance of “Come, O Thou King of Kings” are unknown, but Elder Pratt wrote all of these hymns as poems, and is not responsible for the tunes of any of the above, just the lyrics.

This is an easy song to play on the guitar.  I include two versions: one for beginning to intermediate guitarists, and another, even simpler, for absolute beginners.  The simplified version contains only four chords: C, G, G7, and a three-string version of F with no notes on the 1st string, thus avoiding any need to barre. It does contain hammer-ons and pull-offs, but they are easy ones, making this arrangement a good one for learning those techniques.

As simple as this version is, it contains the full melody, in both parts, as well as a few strummed chords for rhythm.  There is no finger-picking or pattern-picking.  It could also be flat-picked.

The more difficult version contains barre chords and a few alternate voicings.  It also contains slightly more complex riffs, a bent note, and a final verse featuring a pattern-picked fill.  The chord changes are a bit harder, but any intermediate guitarist should have no trouble with this tab.  Only the final measure on the first page is at all unusual; it includes a slow-strummed FI chord that takes up two beats.  Both versions are so easy that no specific instructions should be needed by any but a true beginner. 

For true beginners

1.  Please use the Simplified version until you can play it well, then advance to the more complex version.  It will be much easier to learn that way.

2.  Reading the tab:  each line of the tab represents one string of the guitar; the numbers show which fret needs to be fretted with the left hand.  Right hand fingering is not shown.  Generally, the two bass strings (E and A) are played with the thumb; the D-string is played with the index finger, the G-string with the middle finger, the B-string with the ring finger, and the e-string with the pinkie.  Chords are shown by placing two or more notes in line vertically.  A wiggly vertical line to the left of the chord means to strum it with the right thumb.  For convenience, I have placed the name of the chord above the place where you need to change your left hand position, even if you don’t actually strum the chord until later.  Hold the hand position until a different chord is called for.

3.  Ligados:  underscores between two notes indicate you are to hammer-on or pull-off from the first note to play the second.  For example, in the second measure, you twice have to pull-off a note that is fretted in the first fret.  Play the first note in the first fret normally, then pluck the string with the fretting finger of the left hand, producing two notes in succession that sound like they are tied together.  (Ligado is the Spanish word for tied.)  This is called a pull-off, and produces a falling tone sequence.  In the fourth measure, you have to produce two rising ligado notes.  Play the note on the open string, then hammer down the tip of the index finger in the first space.  This is called a hammer-on.  These techniques are very common in fingerstyle guitar.

4.  Melody notes:  Occasionally, you will need to add a note that is not in the chord you are playing, in order to play the melody.  The final two notes of the second line are such.  In general, you will fret melody notes in the first space with the index finger, in the second space with the middle finger, and in the third space with the ring finger.  Such “finger dancing” may feel uncomfortable. After a bit of practice, it will begin to feel natural, and will keep your fingers from colliding.

5.  Combining techniques:  In the last line you need to combine techniques.  Play the G chord normally, lift the ring finger of the left hand to play the e-string open, replace it to play the G note in the third space on the e-string, then pull it off to sound the string open.  The first time you do this, it will feel weird to pull-off with your ring finger.  Do it that way anyway-- it will strengthen that finger.  In more advanced music, you will often use that finger for advanced techniques.

6.  Counting tempo:  This hymn was written in 4/4 time, but most of the notes are actually eighth-notes, not quarter-notes, so I have arranged it in 8/8 time.  This simplifies counting, but remember, if you use a metronome, each tick equals two counts, or the music will drag terribly.  Unlike sheet music, tablature has no way to indicate how long to hold each note.  Using the counting numbers below the tab will help.  The physical distance between successive notes has no meaning; it is determined by the length of the words in the lyrics.  I have included the words of the first verse as a reference, so you will know where you are in the song.  The repeat signs at the beginning of the first measure and the end of the last measure show that you can repeat the piece, for several verses.  This is a guitar solo, not a vocal accompaniment, so only the first verse is included.

7.  Chord charts are found at the end of the tab, and show the exact fingering of each chord used in the tab.  Note that F is a three-note chord.  The Xs indicate that you are not to play the 1st, 5th, and 6th strings, eliminating the need to barre the first two strings,  which causes many beginners difficulty.  If you can play the F normally, you are, of course, welcome to do so.

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Like many hymns, this song is better known by its first line, “Whenever I Hear the Song of a Bird.”  It has also been called, “The Beautiful World,” which is not its title at all. 

The author/composer was Clara W. McMaster.  As a member of the Primary Board of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for many years, she wrote many popular children’s songs, including “Teach Me to Walk in the Light,” “Reverently, Quietly” and “Kindness Begins with Me.”  She was also a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 22 years.

Like many Primary songs, this one is more complex musically than it sounds, but it is not difficult to play, if you don’t mind barre chords.  Half the chords in the song are barre chords, including CIII and FV, which many intermediate guitarists find difficult. They are worth learning, as they are used frequently in pattern picking and fingerstyle music of all sorts, as well as in much jazz guitar music.  The solution, as usual, is plenty of practice. 

If you just want to strum this song for accompaniment, you can use the more common chord voicings, but you will lose the lovely, high-pitched melody.  If you do this, substitute G7 for all of the G chords, C for all the C chords, etc.  This arrangement is intended as a guitar solo.  A really cool way to use it is to strum the chords as accompaniment to a singer or vocal group, then play this solo as an instrumental bridge between verses.  The last line of the tab, beginning with the last note in measure [13], makes a great instrumental introduction, too.

Begin measure [1] by fretting the single G note with your pinkie.  The best way to do this is to pre-position your left hand for the CaddG chord, but only play the top note, changing to the C chord at the beginning of [2] by simply lifting the pinkie off the string.  Replace it for the second half of the measure, to make the CaddG chord again.

The next two measures use partial and full chords to emphasize the melody line on the first two strings.  Be sure to strum only the strings indicated.  Because all chords are to be strummed, this is an easy song to flat-pick.  I think it sounds better thumb-strummed, or you can use a very soft pick.

In measure [5], you can substitute an E chord for the E7 if you like.  E7 gives a softer sound, and is called for in the original music.  Sometimes, I like to play E in [5], and E7 in measure [13], to avoid excessive repetition. 

Notice the slide up on the first string at the very end of measure [7].  There is no final note shown, as the slide is just an accent.  This is called, slurring the note.  It’s quite easy to do: just leave your index finger on the string as you slide up from the third fret to the fifth, then strum the chord normally.  It sounds really cool, and takes absolutely no trouble at all to add.  Just don’t get too carried away and do it all the time, or it will lose its impact.

There are a couple of tricky spots in measure [8].  If you are not completely easy with the barred-C chord shape, you’ll need to practice it until you can hit it reliably while sliding your hand up the neck from CaddG, a rather quick slide from first position to fifth position.  There’s also a pull-off called for at the end of the measure.  Making this pull-off while holding the chord can be tricky.  You can either release the chord, to give your hand some extra room, or push the note off instead of pulling it.

Measures [10], [11], [12] and [13] are played exactly like [2], [3], [4] and [5], unless you choose to substitute an E chord for one of the E7 chords.  Measure [14] is just a very slow, deliberate strum of an FI chord.  Play each note separately.
In [15], you could substitute a CaddG for the CIII, if you find it easier to play.  I use the CIII to ease the transitions from FI, and to the following CVIII, as all three are barre chords.  Play the A note on the first string (fifth fret) by flattening the pinkie across the string, then play the B at the seventh fret by stretching the pinkie along the string, slurring the note.  Slur the 5th note too, coming down from the twelfth fret to the tenth, at the end of the measure. 

In measure [16], change hand position to GIII at the fourth note, where indicated, even though you don’t strum the chord until the last note of the measure.  The change is not strictly necessary at the fourth note, as you can easily reach that note from the barre-A shape of the CIII chord, but this is the easiest place in the measure to make the change.  Holding the CIII until the next-to-last note necessitates a rather quick and complex chord change (CIII to GIII to C/G) all within the span of three counts.  The tempo is slow enough that you can make such a chord change, but why make things harder to no purpose?  It sounds exactly the same either way.

This song is not in the public domain.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints holds the copyright, which allows you to use the song only for non-commercial, church and home use.  Please abide by the terms of this copyright restriction.

In the Garden

This is one of the most famous, and most performed Christian hymns.  It has been covered by performers as diverse as Elvis Presley and Mahalia Jackson.  There is no special story associated with its creation, though.  Charles Austin Miles was a professional hymn writer, and the garden in the song was non-existent.  In fact, his grandson states that the song was composed in a New Jersey basement that lacked even a window to look out of, much less a garden to look at or walk in.  Nevertheless, this sentimental hymn has inspired millions of Christians around the world.

There are several good guitar versions available for free on You Tube.  I especially like the one by Austin Parker, found HERE.  (You may have to adjust the volume, if the link opens up muted.)  He plays it in D, and in a totally different style.  I’ve invited him to submit a tab as a guest composer, so far without response.  If he does, I’ll publish it, as I like his version better than my own.  Until then, I guess I’ll have to make do with my own version of this public domain song.

I like to play the first verse by strumming the chords with my thumb, then pinch the chords for the second verse, for variety, but I strum the choruses, slowing for emphasis as prompted by the Spirit.  There are only a few spots that need specific instructions.

The hammer-ons and pull-offs in measures [3], [5] and [7] are done with the pinkie.  Do the hammer-on in [9] with the index finger.  This allows you to hold the chord while accomplishing the ligado.  The G13 chord in [10] is just a normal G7, with the D on the 2nd string added with the pinkie.  Do the slide in [11] with the middle finger.  The C9 in [12] is formed exactly like the G13 chord in [10], by adding the D on the 2nd string with the pinkie.  Do the slide in [19] with either the ring or middle finger, whichever is easier for you.

Either way, you’re going to have to hustle to get back to the GIII in [20].  It would be much easier to go to a normal G, or even a G7 (with the first string muted), but then the transition to the G7III in [22] would be much harder. 

The second string riff in [23] needs to be played fluidly, with the pinkie, making sure that each note gets a full count.  This is a bit slow and deliberate for slides and pull-offs, but sounds really great. 

If you are only planning to play the song through one time, skip measures [27] - [33].  If you are planning to play two or more verses, play these measures, reverting to measure [2] each time at the beginning of the next verse.  Only the last time should you substitute measures [34] - [40].

Be careful in counting measures [32] and [33].  The notes in [32] are eighth notes, and there are six of them to the measure.  The notes in [33] are quarter notes, so each is held twice as long as those in the previous measure.

Measure [35] is played exactly like [28], except, you may wish to slide up to the 5th fret for the FV chord in the next measure, instead of simply changing to it, as shown in the tab.  Use the middle finger for the slide from the 5th fret to the 10th.  Do the hammer-on in [38] with the ring finger.  This helps position the index finger to fret the D in the 7th space, third string.  You’ll have to move your hand quickly to reach the F/C chord that begins measure [39].  You may find a different fingering better suited to these last five measures.  This one seems to be the best to me, but there’s no way to play it that makes all the transitions easy.

Many people don’t realize it, but there are actually three verses to this hymn.  Here are the complete lyrics:

1. I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

2.  He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


3.  I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.



I am frequently asked if this blog has ever been hacked.  The answer is, Yes.  In the last five years, it has been hacked twice.  Both hacks were by people concerned that I might be publishing pirated material.  (For the record, I do not knowingly pirate material.  Ever.)  In the first case, I was able to ID the hacker and sent him an email politely explaining that I had not tabbed his published recording, which he would have known right away if he had bothered to look at the tab, or had read the posting in which I lamented that my arrangement was not as good as his!  I had published a link to his recording, but unknown to me, the link led to a pirate site.  It looked legit to me, but I immediately took down the link, and have not used that site since.

The other time, I was not able to ID the hacker, so I had to hack his hack to get my message back to him.  This was a person who thought I must be ripping off copyrighted material belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  In my reverse hack, I pointed out that I have received written permission to use the Church's material (under the proper conditions), and offered to show it to him.  He emailed me and apologized.

Both cases could have been avoided if the hacker had bothered to read the material they were so concerned about.  But I also learned an important lesson:  there is no way to know for sure that a private website is not engaging in piracy.  That's why there are so few links to other sites here.

Glory to God on High

The name of the tune used for this hymn is “Italian Hymn.”  It was composed in 1869 by the Italian composer Felice de Giardini (1716–1796), who was living in England at the time.  First published that same year, the tune has been included in LDS hymnals since the 1840 edition of A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe.  There were originally five verses, but only three were used in the Collection of Sacred Hymns.  The selection was made by Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor.  The lyrics and music are now in the public domain.

The original tune was written in F, but I have transposed it to A, to make it easier to play on the guitar.  I have also slowed the tempo a bit.  For the first two verses, it wouldn’t matter if you played it faster, but the third verse is nearly all triplets.  If you like playing that fast, so be it, but I prefer to play a bit slower.  Don’t make the mistake of playing the first two verses fast, then slowing down for the triplets.  There is no way to disguise the fact that you are doing just that.  Instead of thinking you are awesome, the congregation will just think you are an amateur.  Far better to play the whole thing at an even tempo, even if it’s a bit slow.

In the second measure, use your pinkie to make the pull-off.  You may feel more comfortable doing this as a “push-off” instead.  Either way, keep the tempo steady.  A steady tempo allows the melody notes to stand out. 

Do the mordant in the fifth measure in the same tempo, by strumming the D chord normally (except for the 1st string), then quickly sliding the whole chord up and down two frets, without striking the strings in the middle of the mordant.  Play the C# on the 2nd string, 2nd space normally, then strum the E chord.  If you do this all without breaking rhythm, you will have the audience eating out of your hand for the rest of the song.

The AV chord at the beginning of the second line is just an E-shape barred at the 5th fret.  It sets up the descending pinches.  You can use either the index and middle fingers of the right hand, or the middle and ring fingers, for all three pinches.  Use the left pinkie to fret the additional notes on the 2nd string in the third measure, and again in the fifth measure.

In the second measure of the third line, the second and third notes are actually part of the strum that begins with the first count, but the strum is slowed way down, so they sound separate notes.  The pull-off in the next measure is easy to do, if you lift the ring finger from the 2nd string and use it to do the pull-off.

You can, if you wish, play the third verse the same way, if you are a beginner, or if you just don’t like adding triplets to “fancy up” the sound.  A simple tune can be highly effective, and very spiritual.  If you would like to add some variety, use the triplets version for the final verse.  This may not actually be the third verse.  The original song had five, but since this is an instrumental solo, and no one is going to be singing anyway, you can play as many verses as you like.

A triplet consists of three notes, played as a quarter-note, and taking a count of ONE beat.  The first note of the triplet is accented.  Some musicians actually count, “ONE-and-a, TWO-and-a, THREE-and-a.”  I find the extra counting more trouble than it’s worth, so I have stuck with the basic, “ONE, two, three”.    To make it more obvious where the triplets end, I have left extra spaces between the last note each triplet and the first note of the following one.  

Nearly all of the triplets begin with either the ring finger or the middle finger of the right hand.  If you are not used to treble string leads, you may want to practice until you get the hang of it.  Treble leads are not any harder than bass string leads, but if you are used to playing the bass string first, your right hand may not want to co-operate.  Pay particular attention to the notes on the 2nd string.  Most of the melody notes in this part of the song occur on this string.  If something doesn’t sound right, check to make sure you’re playing the tab exactly as written, especially on the 2nd string.  The triplets stop after the first measure of the last line, switching instead to a straight 3/4 time for just one measure.  Then switch back to triplets for the 3rd measure. 

Play the third measure of the last line off an AV chord, using whichever right-hand fingers you find easiest.  You could play the same notes off a standard A chord, just by shifting the right hand one string towards the treble side of the neck, at the cost of an extremely fast transition to the final, strummed AV.  It is much easier to make the change after the second measure, where you have an extra 1/8 note to move your left hand to the V space, while playing the open E string.  You may wish to gradually slow down during the last measure of triplets, to clue the audience that the end is coming.

Meditation (Meditaçao)

This post was posted some time ago, but the link failed, and never posted.  Just scroll down for the post.  The link is working now.  Sorry!

Rock of Ages

Short, easy, beautiful piece.  Only twelve full measures, only three chords, all easy.  No barre chords.  No hard or fast changes.  Lots of fun expression-- it can make people weep.  And it’s in the public domain.  What’s not to love? 

Tempo is approximate; don’t even try to use a metronome.  You’ll find yourself wanting to adjust the tempo throughout the song, as you speed up and slow down for emphasis.  The count is approximate, too, as I found it confusing to try to put in sixteenth notes.

I recommend you try to stick with the chord strums and pinches as tabbed, as well as the slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, at least until you get a feel for the arrangement.  Yeah, it’s easier without all that expression, but it’s not nearly as beautiful.  Done correctly, after three verses, you should see members of the congregation dabbing their eyes.

There are two ways to make a tremolo, and this piece requires both, depending on fretboard position.  For notes at the fifth fret and above, make the tremolo by vibrating the fretting finger along the string.  For notes below the fifth fret, vibrate across the string, or the tremolo will be weak, or even inaudible.

A few of the slides and changes require you to use specific fingers:

In the last two measures of the second line, use the middle finger for the slide, leaving the index finger free to fret the G on the 6th string in the last measure.  The ring finger then plays the B in the IV space of the third string, pulling off to G.  It’s not difficult at all, just unusual.

For similar reasons, in the second measure of the last line, I like to use the middle finger for the double slide on the 4th string.  In the next measure, the second note is actually part of the strummed chord, but is a quarter note, for emphasis, while the rest of the chord receives a standard strum. 

Try to hold the tremolo in the penultimate (next to last) measure as long as you can.  You can slide down to the D on the 2nd string if you wish, or play it separately as shown.  The rest of the song need not be played very deliberately for the first two verses, but the last time, play at half speed as shown, with great deliberation, emphasizing each chord separately.

The final chord may be played as a standard C if desired, but I think adding the G bass note with the little finger gives a fuller sound.  Tip:  Play the standard C for the first two verses, reserving the C/G for the final resolve of the song.  This chord is properly called, "C with a G bass," but guitarists often call it "C-slash-G," or "C-over-G."  Whatever you call it, it's a strong way to end a beautiful song.

Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

I haven’t been able to learn much about the history of the lyrics, other than the author was John Fawcett, a British-born Baptist theologian, pastor, and hymn writer.  The music has been attributed to the XVIII Century, French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who apparently was something of a polymath (multiple genius).  Besides writing on philosophy, religion, and various works of literature, he wrote the constitutions of two countries (neither his own), influenced the political thinkers of the day in favor of democracy, and taught music and music theory.  He also gave music lessons, wrote an opera, and wrote the tune (Greenville) for this hymn.

The hymn itself originally had three verses, and is still listed that way in many Protestant hymnals, though the LDS hymnal only lists two of them.  Since this intended as an instrumental solo, you can play as many verses as you like.  I have included a key change, from D to C, which is not in the music, but adds to the variety of the piece.  If you are going to play three verses, you can change back to D for the third verse, or you can start in C, then change to D and back to C for the third verse. 

Either way, the music is played almost exactly the same in both keys, the main difference being which frets are barred.  There’s lots of repetition, making the piece much easier than it sounds.  For example, the first two lines within each verse are nearly identical, and the last four lines of the second verse are played exactly the same as the corresponding lines of the first verse, except for the barre position. Most of the tab is based on simple chords known to even beginning guitarists: D, A, and C.  Between them, they account for nearly half of the measures.  Four of the remaining seven chords are either barred A-shapes or barred E-shapes, the easiest barre chords there are.  Of the other three chords, two consist of just the first four strings of a barred C-shape.  The only other chord is a slight modification of a basic C chord, formed by adding the G on the first string, third space. 

Other than the barre chords, the only thing that might give you trouble in this song are the numerous slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, most of which need to be done with the left pinkie.  Please do not leave them out; they are the melody notes.  You can pick the notes individually, instead of doing the ligado techniques, but that actually makes the song harder.  As written, the whole song can be done by strumming with the thumb, a thumb-pick, or a flat pick.  For variety, or for emphasis, you can finger-pick or pinch the chords in the choruses, except for the final chords in each line.  This is not a hard song.  The whole arrangement and tab took me less than one day.

Naturally, this one is in the public domain.  Enjoy!

Meditation (Meditaçao)

Don’t let the weird chord names throw you, or prevent you from learning this song.  It’s actually not very hard.  In fact, it’s the very first Bossa Nova song I ever learned, strumming it softly, before I ever learned to finger-pick.  I’ve included the lyrics to all the verses, and a cheat sheet at the end, for those who prefer to strum it and sing the melody.  (The cheat sheet chords are even easier!)  If, like me, your fingers work better than your voice, you may want to pick it as a guitar solo instead.  It sounds great either way.  “Lovely” is about the only word to describe it.  If you don’t know the piece, see the guitar version by Antonio “Tom” Jobim HERE.  I don’t know if this is the original composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who also went by the name Tom Jobim, or a wonderful guitarist with a similar name.  As you can see, my chords are lots easier, but his are LOTS prettier!  Or check out the melody as originally performed by Astrud Gilberto in 1967 HERE.

In tabbing this piece, I have tried something new.  There are several places where a barre is indicated, to make the left hand fingering easier, but the indicated note is not actually played.  Where this occurs, I have marked the string with a capital X in lightface type, in place of the usual boldface 0.  The chords are A9IV, G9II, and especially Fmaj7I, in which the 5th string isn’t even part of the chord, but must be barred in order to ease the transition from C.

On the Coda, just barre the first five strings in the indicated space and slide from one chord to the next, sustaining each chord for just a moment, so the whole slide takes six beats.  If your guitar won’t sustain this long (few acoustic guitars will), try playing it as three separate two-chord slides, or play each chord separately as a finger-stopped thumb strum.  Finger-stop the chords (except for the last one) by quickly easing the barring finger pressure against the strings just slightly, just enough to damp the strings so they quit sounding, before moving to the next chord.  After finger-damping the chord, be sure to lift the finger completely off the strings while moving to the next chord, or the strings may sound.  This will not sound like a cool slide, but rather like a muffed transition.  Either make the slide definite, or make the stop definite.  Let the final Cmaj7 chord ring, and take your bows.  I just love a Major Seventh resolve.  Your audience will, too.

If you play around on YouTube, you’ll find that every artist who covers this piece does it differently.  It’s JAZZ.  There’s no “right” way to play it, just so it sounds good to you.  A nice thing about this song is that it sounds equally good as a simple melody, or tricked up with all kinds of fancy riffs.  Play around with it.  Have fun.  That’s what jazz is all about.

Guitar strings...

I was reading a blog thread about guitar string brands, and noted several comments from players whose "body chemistry" caused their strings to go dead quickly.  Or so they said.  My Classical teacher taught me to always wash my hands with soap and water before touching the guitar, to remove finger oils.  The oil gets into the windings of the bass strings and attracts and holds dirt particles, tiny bits of dead skin, etc., which can deaden a string literally overnight.  Finger oil and dirt also coat the mono-filament strings (the treble strings), which deadens them as well, though not as quickly.  Some people have oilier skin than others.  If you have oily hands, try washing them with soap, or even detergent, particularly the finger ends, right before playing.  Unless you LIKE restringing your guitar, of course!  Anybody have any other ideas on how to make strings last longer?

We'll Bring the World His Truth ("Army of Helaman")

Yeah, I know:  everyone calls this song, “The Army of Helaman.”  Sorry, but that is not actually its title.  The original name, according to Janice Kapp Perry, the composer and lyricist, is “We’ll Bring the World His Truth.”  So many people called it “The Army of Helaman,” that the LDS Church, which is extremely careful about such things, had to append the alternate title, to avoid confusion.  So did I.

Another shocker:  the copyright date is 1983.  The song is barely thirty years old.  I thought it had been around forever.  Instead, I find the original copyright date is still valid.  It is NOT in the public domain.  The Church website states,

© 1983 by Janice Kapp Perry. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial church or home use.  Official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  © 2010 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

I would normally conclude from the double copyright that the Church had purchased limited rights from Sister Perry.  However, Sister Perry’s own website has not responded to my request for reprint permission.  I have waited months for a meaningful reply, and have received only spam.  I conclude:  either she does not care if I publish this song, or she no longer owns the rights.  Nevertheless, I have removed the lyrics from the tab, which is my own work as the arranger.  The lyrics are readily available HERE.  Write them in if you wish.  They are not needed for a strictly instrumental arrangement such as this.

Playing guide:
I have recast the time signature from 3/4 to 6/8, for simplicity.   Nearly all the notes come out eighth notes, which is fine for guitar, and it’s much less confusing visually.  I didn’t even have to transpose, as it was originally written in C.  I did slow it down just a bit, from 116 quarter notes per minute to 100.  Remember this when counting:  TWO counts = ONE beat.

There are a few unusual (but easy) chords, and a few difficult barre chords.  Before you panic, I have tried to leave plenty of time for chord changes.  The hard chords make this piece more suitable for intermediate guitarists than for beginners, despite its simple sound.  If you play through it, you may find it’s more sophisticated than it seems.

The first two measures are just arpeggios, and are only played once, as an introduction.  The verses start with measure [3], where the melody begins.  The melody is carried in the bass in this measure, with the rhythm in the treble, just the opposite of the usual arrangement. 

Measure [4] is a treble pluck, followed by a rising arpeggio and ending with a descending note, a pattern repeated often in this song.  Measure [5] abandons the pattern-picking, for a series of descending pinches.  The rhythm is off the beat, but is carried in the bass. 

There’s a bit of a tricky pull-off in measure [9].  The trick is pushing the finger off the string (toward the top of the guitar) instead of pulling it, which would be well nigh impossible to accomplish while holding the FI chord.  It’s easy if you push it off, though this may seem a little odd, if you’re not used to the technique.

Measures [11] and [12] are the same as [3] and [4].  Measure [13] is nearly identical to [5], except that the first pinch of the measure is replaced by a full, strummed chord, and the rhythm is carried on the bass E string, instead of the A string.

Measures [16] and [17] end with a quarter note, or you can substitute an eighth note and a rest if you are having trouble sustaining these notes.  You fret this note with your left pinkie.  If you are not used to fretting bass strings with your pinkie, you may well have such trouble. 

The next measure, [18] is the last measure of the verse, and is unique in several ways.  First, there’s a tempo change to 8/8, just for this one measure.  Also, it is contains multiple hammer-ons.  Do not omit them.  The phrase needs to be played with extreme fluidity.  Remember, this eight-note measure should take no longer to play than the six-note measures that precede and follow it.  A little practice should suffice; it’s not as hard as it looks.  Do not hesitate, but go right into the next measure [19] without a break.  I can’t stress this enough:  fluidity and perfect timing here will make the song; variation in timing or hesitation will sound terribly amateurish to the audience.  Practice playing measures [17] through [19] until you can’t muff them.  Your audience will forgive a bobble in any other part of this song, but not here.

Measure [19] begins the chorus.  Play the FI chord and then slide up the neck of the guitar to the III space while lifting the left pinkie off the string to make a very fast change to G7III.  In measure [21], on the final pinch of the measure, you’ll need to add the F note on the 4th string with the left pinkie.  Don’t forget it; it’s the melody note!  Then, in [22], you have another one of those push-offs.  If you’ll fret the final note of the measure (G on the 6th string) with your left pinkie again, it’ll position your left hand automatically for the
FI chord that begins [23].

Measures [29] and [30] are played almost exactly like [21] and [22].  The only difference is in the final note of [30].  This is a melody note AND a transition to Dm7V.  DON’T play it exactly the same as [22]!  Measure [33] has another one of those push-offs.  You can do this one as a pull-off if you wish, I just find it easier to push.  Hammer on the F note on the 4th string, then lift the entire left hand from the strings as you do the pull-off or push-off to D (open).  End the chorus with a C chord strum and go right into the next verse, starting with measure [3].

Since this is an instrumental solo, you don’t have to play all three verses.  Or, if you wish, you can add additional ones.  But on the final verse, skip directly from verse [32] to verse [35], play the Finale through ONCE, and stop.  This finale is not part of the song as published in The Children’s Songbook.  But I hope you’ll like it.

Measures [35] and [36] nearly reprise [33] and [34], with a couple of differences:  the initial, two-note pinch in [33] becomes a three-note pinched chord in [35], and a G note is added on the open 3rd string at the end of [36].  This note is important, as it provides a transition to the following musical phrase comprising [37] through the initial chord of [40].  This phrase is the melody associated with the words, “to bring the world His truth,” and is repeated twice more.  Note that the chords do not match those used in other parts of the song to accompany the same words, though the effect is similar.   In measure [38], the G7* chord can be fretted by barring the 4th, 5th, and 6th strings with the index finger, bending it slightly backwards so as not to buzz on the 2nd string, which is played open.  If, like me, your index finger does not bend backward, you’ll have to fret the 4th and 6th strings with the index and middle finger as shown in the chord charts.

The FV and GVII chords in measures [41] and [42] are not terribly hard to play as written. They normally would be played as five-string chords, which are difficult to play.  As shown in the tab, you only have to bar the first three strings, but I recommend barring all six strings anyway if you can, as this greatly simplifies the transition to CVIII in the next measure. 

Possibly the most technically difficult part of the song occurs right at the end, when you have to fret the 3rd string in the 10th space with the left pinkie, then slide it down to the 7th fret.  Then, without a break, lift the fingers off the strings and continue along the guitar neck to the C chord in the first position.  Try to do it all in one motion.  Sustain the C chord as long as you can, and take your bows.

In Our Lovely Deseret


Eliza R. Snow wrote the lyrics to this popular Nineteenth Century tune to convert it into a Latter-Day Saint hymn, but it began as a quite secular march.  George F. Root composed the tune and wrote the original lyrics to a song called, “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The Boys Are Marching.”  Published in 1864, it was one of the most popular songs of the American Civil War.  In fact, it was so popular that, though it was written originally to console Union POWs, it was adopted by the Confederacy, with altered lyrics, and was sung by both sides as a marching song.

The tune became so popular that parodies were inevitable.  It bears the distinction of being the basis of two different popular children’s hymns, “In Our Lovely Deseret,” and  “Jesus Loves the Little Children”.)  The Mormon lyrics were written by Eliza R. Snow, acerbic wife of Brigham Young, who never had any children of her own, but did spend much of her life surrounded by “a multitude of children,” who learned to dread their rather strict “Aunt Eliza.”

There are many stories about Eliza Snow’s volatile relationship with her step-children.  My favorite is the one that tells how Aunt Eliza spotted some of her step-daughters wearing colorful sashes and took “those worldly things” away from them.  It turned out they had been gifts from their father, the prophet, and Eliza had to suffer the embarrassment of being openly chastised by her husband, who told her not to deny his children the gifts he saw fit to give them.  Although this was done en famille, the children gleefully repeated it, and it soon became public knowledge.

Eliza fancied herself quite a poet, and no fewer than ten of her works are still found in the current LDS hymnal.  “In Our Lovely Deseret” holds the distinction of being the only LDS hymn that specifically mentions the Word of Wisdom.


The tune is meant to be a sprightly march, and should be played quite fast, and with perfect regularity.  The only way to learn this is to practice with a metronome, slowly (45 - 70), until you can play it correctly, then try for speed.  This will not be easy if you are not used to practicing with a metronome.  For this reason, I have classified the tune as Intermediate level, even though there are only four fairly common chords.

Because the tune is a march, I have elected to keep the 4/4 time signature, even though nearly all the notes are eighth-notes.  I tried putting “&s” in the count, to show this, but they made the count line so cluttered that it became confusing, so I left them out.  If you are not familiar with the song, go to and listen to it.

There are a few fast transitions involving barre chords.  If you are a beginner, you may need to practice them for speed, or you’ll never get the tempo right.  Please do not substitute non-barre chords for the barre chords, or you will lose the melody entirely.

There are a few spots where I have called for a chord, but only a single note, or a two-note pinch, is actually played.  There’s a reason for this.  The following notes can be played quickly and easily if your left hand is already in position.  In cases like this, I have tried to put the chord changes for the left hand where you have the most time to make them.  This means the changes don’t always fall on the downbeat.  Hence, the count line.


In the first (lead-in) measure, fret a normal C chord, adding the F on the D-string in the third space with the pinkie, lifting it quickly for the rest of the measure.  Do the pull-off in measure [4] with the pinkie, too.  It’s going to be your “finger-dancing” finger for the rest of the song.

When playing the hammer-on in measure [3], lift the barring index finger of the F chord, then hammer it back down to make the hammer-on.  This works best with high-tension strings.  Do the same thing in measures [6] and [15].

In measure [5], the last two notes are musically the same as the first two note of the song, but I have put them in as a slide to ease the transition from the GIII chord back to C.  This works best if you use the ring finger to do the slide.  Also, the slide adds variety to a musical phrase that is otherwise a simple repeat of the first four measures.

For similar reasons, I have called for some of the chords to be strummed in one part of the song, and pinched in others.  If you have trouble keeping the rhythm while switching from pinches to strums, you might try making all the chords pinches, or even leave out all but the melody notes.

Measure [8] requires some finger dancing.  The easy way to hit the fifth note of the measure is to flatten the hand so the pinky frets the G-string at the fifth fret briefly.  Just arch the finger so you can play the D note on the B-string.  Use the tip of the little finger to fret the G string normally, at the sixth fret, then lift it from the strings to get the D again.  Lift the whole hand to play the E-string open, while moving the left hand to First Position for the C chord.  Meanwhile, the right hand will have to play the same string with the same finger, twice in succession.  There’s no easy way around it.

In Measure [10], catch the A on the G-string by flattening the middle finger, then releasing the entire hand for the open note that begins [11].  This gives you time to change to the C/G chord.  I have written in the chord name with a one beat delay to allow time for the transition.  You're actually playing some of the notes of that chord while making the chord change.  It's easier than it sounds.  The last note of [12] is fretted by briefly flattening the pinkie again.

The last three measures recap measures [7], [8], and [9] nearly exactly, with only a slight difference in the melody notes in [16].


I have only included the lyrics for the first verse.  The other verses are:

2. That the children may live long
And be beautiful and strong,
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise,
Drink no liquor, and they eat
But a very little meat;
They are seeking to be great and good and wise.

3. They should be instructed young
How to watch and guard the tongue,
And their tempers train and evil passions bind;
They should always be polite,
And treat ev’rybody right,
And in ev’ry place be affable and kind.

4. They must not forget to pray,
Night and morning ev’ry day,
For the Lord to keep them safe from ev’ry ill,
And assist them to do right,
That with all their mind and might
They may love him and may learn to do his will.

Baptist minister Clare Herbert Woolston wrote a different set of lyrics, calling the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”  Woolston wrote three verses and a refrain, but the refrain is all that most people know.  Even professional music ministers may not know that there are verses, which follow the same music lines as “In Our Lovely Deseret.”  You get two songs for the price of one, both in the public domain!

1.  Jesus calls the children dear,
“Come to me and never fear,
For I love the little children of the world;
I will take you by the hand,
Lead you to the better land,
For I love the little children of the world.”


Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

2.  Jesus is the Shepherd true,
And He’ll always stand by you,
For He loves the little children of the world;
He’s a Savior great and strong,
And He’ll shield you from the wrong,
For He loves the little children of the world.


3.  I am coming, Lord, to Thee,
And Your soldier I will be,
For You love the little children of the world;
And Your cross I’ll always bear,
And for You I’ll do and dare,
For You love the little children of the world.


May guitars be used in sacrament meeting?

Some Church members, including some who should know better, still occasionally repeat the old Mormon myth that guitars in sacrament meeting are forbidden.  Let me set the record straight.  According to Handbook 2, Administering the Church ("the red handbook") Section 14.4.3, Special Musical Selections, page 116, "Musical selections may be presented by choirs, vocal and instrumental soloists, and small groups. Hymns and other appropriate selections may be used (see 14.4.2)."

Section 14.4.2, "Guidelines for Choosing Appropriate Music for Church Worship Services,"  is lengthy, but contains the following citation relating to musical instruments used (emphasis added):

"Music in Church meetings should not draw attention to itself or be for demonstration. This music is for worship, not performance.  Organs and pianos, or their electronic equivalents, are the standard instruments used in Church meetings. If other instruments are used, their use should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting. Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting."

These two citations are the only ones relating to permitted instruments in the entire handbook.  Not a word about guitars, though I suspect that electric guitars, with heavy distortion, would probably be disqualified as having "a prominent or less worshipful sound."  

I have played my classical guitar in sacrament meeting many times, as well as in two different Missionary Training Centers, including the Provo MTC.  No one has ever claimed that my music was inappropriate, after hearing it.  If anyone challenges the appropriateness of your playing a guitar in church, challenge them to back up their assertion with a quotation from the official Church leadership handbook.  It is available online through


Lost this post from last February, so here it is again:


It’s a beautiful, clear, winter day; the temperature is 11º Fahrenheit (that’s -11º Celsius), and I can’t go anywhere.  I dropped my car key in the snow yesterday, and now the ignition lock has frozen solid.  Great day to stay home and work on this song.

Just about every vocalist who ever lived has recorded this song-- it may be the most-covered song of all time.  Lots of instrumentalists have covered it too.  I think it sounds especially nice on an acoustic guitar.  Here’s my version of the aria from George Gershwin’s jazz opera, Porgy and Bess.

Summertime is not an especially hard song to play, but it does require barre chords, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and bending notes. I would call it intermediate level.  None of these techniques are especially tricky, but there are a couple of fast chord changes, so you simply must nail the barre chords every time, with no messing around.  If you cannot do this, download the song anyway and prepare for some serious practicing.

Practice guide:

Set your metronome for 76 quarter-notes per minute.  I originally tabbed it in 4/4 time, which doubled the number of measures, but made the beat easier to figure out.  Then I found that the time signature had to be changed a lot, to accommodate the bluesy nature of the song, so I gave up and tabbed it in 8/8.  It’s lots easier to read that way, but you’ll find that most of the measures will actually sound more like two measures of 4/4 than one of 8/8.  Let me know if this bothers you.  If your playing is sufficiently relaxed, no one will notice.

The Intro is a measure and a half long.  Accent the second note of each phrase:  da-DUM-da, da-DUM-da, da-DUM-da, da-DUM.  Do the double slide at the beginning of the third measure with your barring finger, and you’ll be all ready for the Amv chord.  Done right, it sounds like you are sliding the whole chord, but don’t actually slide the whole chord.  It’ll make scratching noises with your fingers on the strings you’re not playing.

The next measure is a bit tricky, as you need to bend the D on the second string, then pull it off to the C.  It’s actually not hard to do, but it sounds wonderful.  Make the bend fairly deep, about half a fret.  You can bend it either by pushing the string or pulling it.  The underline shows that you have to ligado directly from the bent note to the C.  Again, you can do this as a pull-off or a push-off.  Either will work fine, as long as you do the ligado the same direction as the bend!  I can get a deeper bend by pushing, so I do the ligado as a push-off, but if you can’t get a clear ligado this way, then pull the bend and do a pull-off.

The bend at the end of the measure should be a bit more subtle, about half as deep.  I show bent notes as italics, but they can be hard to notice with everything else happening in the tab, so I also write the word bend in light-face italics above the line, to make it more obvious.  Please do not omit these bent notes.  They add lots of expression and lustre to the song.

The third line consists of a downward-running chord sequence that is one of the coolest parts of the song.  Strongly accent the first note of each phrase:  DUM-dum-dada DUM-dum-dada, repeated three times.  Change from the Dm to the Dmaj7 by sliding the ring finger from the III space to the II space.  The whole progression goes very easily, especially if you start with a short barre on the first two strings, even in the Dm, where it isn’t necessary.  The E7 chord is easy to do, and provides a very subtle change to the EaddD chord in the next measure.  Actually, EaddD is just another way of playing an E7, and is usually just called E7.  The notes are identical, but they are in a different order, which gives a slightly different sound.  Pianists refer to chords like this as different inversions of the same chord, while to guitarists, they are different chord shapes.

I had to change the time signature for the next measure, to accommodate the triplets, as there is no way to divide 12 notes into eighths and have it come out even.  The tempo does not really change at all, but it sounds like it, as you are cramming half-again as many notes into a measure of the same length.  Strongly accent the first note of each triplet:  ONE-and-a TWO-and-a THREE-and-a FOUR-and-a.  You’ll have to play the notes somewhat faster than you have been playing, to make the measure the same length as the other measures.  Practicing with a metronome can really help here, if you set it to 76 beats per minute.  Then, in every measure, there will be four ticks of the metronome, regardless of whether you are playing eighth notes or twelfth notes.

The hardest part of the whole song (for me) is changing from 4/4 triplets back to 8/8 eighth notes, while moving from EaddD to Amv with a double slide, all at the same time, and QUICKLY.  That’s one reason I play the open G note on the last triplet.  It sounds good, and gives me a slightly longer time to let go of the EaddD and get my barring finger up to the IV fret.  Admittedly, a twelfth note is not a whole lot of extra time, but I need all the help I can get!  Don’t give up!  You may have to practice this change a lot before it becomes smooth.

The first measure on the fifth line (“an’ yo’ mama’s good-lookin’”) is played almost exactly like measure 4, only without the bends.  You can put the bends in if you like, but I think leaving them out adds variety in a way the audience is likely to find subtle.  Translation:  they’ll hear the difference, but they won’t know they’ve heard it.  Since the whole song is repeated at least once, there will be some times when the bends are used, and others when they aren’t.  Keep ‘em guessing.

Second time around, I like to hold the following BmVII chord a bit, for emphasis.  Then, in the sixth line, I like to strum the runs in the first and third measures with my thumb for variety.  Some guitarists don’t like switching back and forth between strums and pinches, but I like the sound.  Don’t forget the bends in the second measure. 

The first measure of the last line continues right back to the end of the Intro.  Play the whole song over again.  After the last verse, add the Finale and take your bows. There are words to the second verse, often changed for political correctness.  Since this is a guitar solo, and the lyrics are not going to be sung at all, no one should be offended.  Here’s what Gershwin wrote: 

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

But until that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by.

Come, Follow Me

This is a really pretty song, with lots of cool chords.  I love the lyrics, too, except for the second verse.  If anyone who reads this can define the word “effulgent” or use it in a sentence in such a way as to indicate the meaning, WITHOUT looking it up first, please email me or comment on this post.  The other five verses are wonderful, and can get along just fine without verse two.  Maybe even better.

This is intended as a guitar solo, but can be used to back up singers or a lead instrument.  I have arranged it as one verse of mostly chords, in 3/4 tempo, for an introduction or accompaniment, and a second verse of more lyrical playing in 6/8, which could be used as a bridge between sung verses.  [That’s an excuse.  I really just couldn’t decide which version I liked better.--Don]

Both versions use lots of barre chords, even some unusual ones.  The trick is to practice until you can make it sound easy.  The first verse is very straightforward.  Just strum the chords and pluck the individual notes as tabbed.  It may not be easy to hit all the chords as quickly as called for, but there is nothing complicated about the tab.  If you find it hard to play the descending chord progression   BVII - CVIII - GVII - AmV smoothly or rapidly enough, try substituting the 3-string version   Bvii* - CVIII* - GVII* - AmV*  from the second verse.  It’ll be much easier, and will sound nearly as good to the audience (because they won’t know what they are missing).

The second verse involves pattern picks, whic are a little more elaborate than strummed chords, but the chords are almost exactly the same.  The only differences are in the second line of each verse.  I have chosen to use the full, five- or six-string versions of the chords in the descending chord progression in the last line of the first verse, and the three- or four-string versions in the second verse, but they need not be played like that.  Either way will work just fine in either place. 
If you are playing this as a solo instrumental, two verses will likely not be enough, as they are very short.  You may want to create a third verse by combining the other two verses.  You can base it on the second verse, but with added chords.  One good way to do this is to play the chords as pinches, instead of strumming them, at least part of the time.  Or, you can base an extra verse on the first verse, but with some pattern picking added for variety.  Once you have mastered the two verses shown here, it’s not difficult to combine them.

Today, While the Sun Shines

This song has a rather quick tempo, though not as fast as the SATB version in Hymns.  But it should not be too difficult to play-- if you memorize it first.  The lines of music are rather short, and if you try to play at speed from the tab, you’ll spend lots of time hesitating between the end of one line and the beginning of the next, giving the piece a very choppy sound.  Practice it that way, and that’s how you’ll learn it. 

The solution is to play the song at about half speed at first.  Practice until you can play the whole piece at a regular tempo from memory.  THEN work on speed.  Please trust me on this.  You really need to go slowly at first on this piece, even though many parts may seem simple and easy.

I have tabbed some of the chords as pinches, and others as strums, but there’s no specific rule about this.  If you feel like playing all pinches, all strums, or changing them up differently than the way I have tabbed them, go ahead.

The last two measures in the first line are a little bit “tricky”.  To get the melody notes out of the F chord, you have to lift the middle finger and replace it, then lift the barring index finger in the last measure, and replace it.  With a bit of practice, you should be able to do it quite fast, and in perfect tempo, but it does feel a bit odd at first.

The second note in the second line is a grace note (not part of the melody).  It is inserted to help the rhythm.  Fret the next note, on the 3rd string, by briefly flattening the left pinkie while playing the note.  You must immediately correct this flattened condition, in order to play the next note, on the 2nd string.  Fret the last note of the second measure (E) on the 2nd string, 5th fret, with the left pinkie.  I know, it’s  easier to just play the 1st string open, but that makes for a significantly harder transition to the next note played on the 2nd string, 6th fret.  You’re going to have to fret that one with the pinkie anyway-- no other way to do it.  So, you might as well play the E with the pinkie too.  You can leave out the following pull-off if you want, and just play the notes separately, but it sounds way better with the pull-off.

The third line is played almost exactly like the first, with the exception of a few melody notes.  What a difference a couple of notes can make!  When you play the song at speed, the audience will most likely have no idea you are just repeating the first line, even if they are seasoned guitarists.

The first half of the fourth line is very similar to the first half of the second line.  Lift the middle finger and then hammer it on in the 4th space.  Play the C note on the third string by flattening the pinkie. The pull-off that bridges the last two measures is very important.  If you leave it out, and play the two notes separately, they will sound much too staccato.  Also, they will be harder to play quickly in the right tempo.

The Chorus has a lively, up-tempo melody-- so lively in fact, that it seems to go faster than the verse.  It’s an illusion.  Both are played at exactly the same speed.  The second and third notes of the first six measures are grace notes, forming a counterpoint to the melody and giving it drive.

In the fourth measure of the chorus’ first line, switch to a GIII chord, even though you’re only playing a single note. There’s a reason for this.  It’s easier to make the change from the C chord here than in the beginning of the next measure, giving just a bit more time to reach the full barre chord. 

In the next line, the C/GIII is played exactly like a normal CIII, except that the bass string is fretted by the barring index finger, and the resulting G note is allowed to sound.  You could play it as a normal, five-string chord, but the lead note would not be a G.  This is not exactly vital, but it’s so easy to do it right.  The only difficulty is a rather weird-looking chord name.  Read it as, “C with a G bass, barre three.”  Some prefer to call it, “C over G,” or even “C slash G.”  There are other ways to play this chord, but they don’t sound right, in this spot.

Hold that chord for four measures.  This would be difficult if you really had to barre all six strings, but in fact, only the first string and the last two strings actually need to be barred.  The rest are part of a barred A-shape, so you’re never actually barring more than three strings at a time.  Finger pick the second string notes with the middle finger, and the first string notes with the ring finger of the right hand, and play the notes on the sixth and fifth strings with the thumb.  Not only is this the easiest way to play it, but it accents the counterpoint.

The chord change to GIII is easy.  Just leave the barre in place and change from an A-shape to an
E-shape.  In the last measure of the line, lift the whole hand off the strings when you play the first string open, and then fret the F in the first space lightly with the index finger.  The idea is to be ready for the quick chord change to C in the next measure.

In the second measure of the last line, the notes on the fifth and fourth strings (C and E) are grace notes.  The final note is a repeat of the partial measure that begins the song.  When you return to the beginning of the song for the next verse, ignore that partial measure, and go right into the second measure of the first line.

Play as many verses and you like, but on the last time around, use the final two measures.  You’ll have to fret the D in the third space, second string with the pinkie, then quickly move it to the sixth string, third space.  Omit the pull-off on the second string.  Strumming the C/G chord UP gives you a little more time for the finger dancing, resolves with a bass note, and just sounds all-around cool.


LDS Composers

Next week I will be the featured composer on the new website, (see the link in the FAVORITE LINKS section below the Tabs column at right).  Each week they feature a Tuesday Talk with a different LDS composer.  Several of the composers mention free sheet music, and some even play guitar.  Check out my interview there starting next Tuesday, and while you are there, look around the site.

Abide with Me; 'Tis Eventide

    Abide with Me; ’Tis Eventide post

A funny thing happened on the way to this website.  I was unable to find a single YouTube or MP3  guitar solo of this popular hymn.  Nor could I find a tab listed anywhere.  I checked twenty pages deep, and found not a one!  There are lots of other versions of this song, but not guitar solos.  Part of the problem undoubtedly comes from the fact that the search terms, “abide with me” and “eventide” are also shared by the hymn “Abide with Me.”  But the bottom line is, if you learn this song and publish it on the web, you will receive instant, worldwide recognition, because you will be the only one on the web doing it.  Chance of a lifetime.

Not much seems to be known about the song itself.  WikiPedia contains only an entry of one brief paragraph.  Same for HymnWiki, and all other web-based song engines I could find.  Hardly anyone has covered it.  It’s a shame, because it’s a beautiful song.  And it's in the Public Domain.

Actually, the song is musically rather simple, if you are not afraid of a few barre chords.  You don't even have to finger-pick it.  The whole song can be thumb strummed, pinched, or played with a flat pick.  It appears in the key of Eb in the LDS hymnal, but I have transposed it into the keys of A and C, because they are MUCH easier to play.  For similar reasons, I have recast it into 6/8 time instead of 3/4, as published in Hymns.  Remember that the metronome tempo refers to quarter-notes, so each metronome beat equals two counts.

In the first line, notes # 2 & 3 of the second and fourth measures are not actually part of the melody, but are included to help with the timing and to keep the song from dragging.  You can leave them out if you wish, but the song sounds more finished with them in.  The final measure of the line is a partial measure, concluded at the beginning of the next line.  I don’t usually use partial measures, but in this case, they make the tab easier to follow.  Line two is an exact duplicate of the first line, except for notes 5 and 6 of the fourth measure.  It’s important to play the E7 chords as written, and not substitute the easier, two-finger version, which will not work.

In the third line, I like to keep my middle finger on the #1 string, and just slide it up to the fifth fret and back down again.  I haven’t marked it as a slide, because you still have to pluck the string to get the note, unlike a true slide, where you are sliding instead of plucking.  Following the E chord, fret the 2nd string, 4th fret with the ring finger, and the next note, 1st string, 2nd fret, with the index finger.  This makes the transition to the following E7 chord easier.

The fourth line contains the only difficult chords in the song.  Both the EIV and DII are barred C-shapes.  I’ve tried to keep this part as easy as possible by putting them together, so you can just slide from one to the other.  Don’t neglect the pull-off in the second measure.  It actually makes this difficult chord change easier.  Do the pull-off with your pinkie.  A/E is just a normal A chord, but let the bass E string sound.  You can also let the high E string sound if you wish, but I think it detracts from the melody note, which is found on the #2 string.

The last line recaps the words of the fourth line, but the melody is very different, as you can easily see from the chord structure.  Please do not substitute the unbarred A chord for the barred version called for in the tab. The melody note is on the first string, 5th fret, which is quite a reach unless you play it as a barred E-shape, as indicated.

You can play as many verses of this song as you like; you don’t have to stick to three, though the audience may expect it.  Verse 2:  The chords are exactly the same as the first verse.  The only difference is that in the first two lines, the chords are pinched instead of plucked.  It sounds very different, though.

Verse 3:  BIG difference, beginning with a key change to the key of C.  The first two lines do not need any special instructions, but the first note of the third line is fretted at the 5th fret.  This is a hard stretch from a C position, so it’s easier to release the C chord and fret the note by barring at the 5th fret with the index finger.  It also makes the transition to FV in the second measure much easier.  In the same measure, you can easily hit the C at the 8th fret, first string by briefly flattening the pinkie.  It’s lots easier than moving the pinkie tip to the first string and back again for successive eighth-notes.

Play the CIII in the third measure as marked.  Don’t try to substitute a normal C chord, or you’ll miss the melody note.  In the fourth measure, you’ll probably need to release the GIII to play the melody notes, then quickly hit the chord again.  If you can’t do this, practice this transition over and over until you can nail the chord all at once.  In fact, this song makes a pretty good etude for learning barre chords really well.

The G7V and F7III are D7 chord shapes, something you don’t see much.  Nevertheless, they are not hard to play.  You don’t even really have to barre them, as you’re only playing one of the four “barred” strings.  I find it easier to barre five or six strings, even though I don’t need to, than to bend my fingers so much.  You’ll probably need to release the CIII to play the open first string, but don’t move the barring finger much, as you just have to put it right back for the following GIII

You could substitute the E on the second string, fifth fret for the open first string.  This would allow you to leave the barre in place for the chord change.  I  find it easier the way I have written it.  Similarly, you could substitute a G7III for the G7 called out in the tab.  This makes the GIII to G7III chord change really easy, but at the cost of a slower change back to C at the end of the line.  I think the way I have written it is marginally easier and faster overall.

Notice the slide at the beginning of line 5.  Hold your index finger in barring position, and slide from the third fret up to the seventh.  You can pull your barring finger slightly off the string as you slide, producing a blurred sound called a slur.  The second and third notes of each measure in this line are not part of the melody, but are inserted to bring out the rhythm.  Unlike all previous lines, this one ends in a complete measure.  The chord which occupies the final, partial measure in each of the previous lines is here replaced by the finale, shown at the beginning of the last line.

The broken chord at the beginning of the final line consists of six notes, perfect for 6/8 time.  The two single notes in the next measure also perfectly fit the time signature.  Hold each for three counts, then immediately play the final C/G.  This may be the most difficult chord change in the piece, just because of the need to traverse the entire length of the fretboard in such a short length of time, and hit a six-string chord.  If you just cannot do it, substitute a regular C chord, but it won’t sound as full.

This hymn sounds especially good if you strum the first and third verses with a soft flat-pick, and finger-pick the second verse.  (It helps to hold the pick in your mouth while finger-picking.)  If you do this, you'll want to strum the final chord UP, treble to bass.  Sounds way cool.