“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.
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.
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.