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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.