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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.


Jason Booth said...

Nice one Don! Well done.

Don Fallick said...

Thanks for the compliment, Jason! I've got a couple more verses on tap-- you'll see them soon right here. Stay tuned! (couldn'tresist the pun)