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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.

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