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!