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.

My all-time favorites

A baker’s dozen of the songs you are most likely to hear me play around the house, just because they are so much FUN to play, or because they sound so great.  As if there’s a difference... .

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Dream A Little Dream Of Me
He Is Risen
How Great Thou Art
Meditation (Meditaçao)
Old Rugged Cross
Summer Time
Til There Was You
Window to His Love

Choukoun (also called Choucoune)

Complete instructions, chords, complete lyrics, pronouncing guide & translation, plus poetic analysis by me are included with the tab. There's also instructions on how to do the Calypso strum, and a discussion of the political and literary significance of this masterpiece, little known outside of Haiti.

The lyrics alone are nearly impossible to find on the Internet, let alone a reasonable tab.  I'm hoping to soon put up a video; until then, this will have to do.  It's one of my two or three favorite songs.  But it's so well-known in Haiti that no one performs it in it's "pure" version any more.  All that can be found on the Internet are "jazzed-up" versions that don't show what the original song was like.

The closest to the original version I have found was performed by Nancy Ames in the 1960s, and released on her album This Is the Girl That Is, under the title "Choucoune".  Musically, it's perfect, and her kreyòl isn't bad, but the lyrics aren't right-- she leaves out some of the verses, as do all modern Haitian recordings.  That's not surprising.  How often do you  hear all the verses of The Star-Spangled Banner?   Out of respect for a work of true genius, I have included ALL the words.

The lyrics were originally written as a poem by Haitian poet Durand Oswald* in 1883, inspired by actual events in his life.  "Choukoun" was a real woman, though we do not know her true name.  The word, "choukoun" means "like a cukoo," a bird which lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, and therefore symbolizes both infidelity and interracial sex.  Ten years later, in 1893, the poem was set to music by Haitian pianist/composer Mauleart Monton Michel*, and became an instant hit.  In the 1930s, with the popularity of folk music in the United States, it became the basis for several popular tunes, including "Yellow Bird" and "Don't Ever Love Me." 

linguistic notes:

1.  NAMES:  Traditionally, Haitians give their family name first, and given name last.  Thus, the poet would be called Oswald Duran in most Western cultures, and the composer, Michel Mauleart-Monton.  Knowing this, educated Haitians habitually give their given name first when speaking to foreigners.  Unfortunately, many Haitian family names sound like given names to English-speakers, and vice-versa.  If the foreigners are sophisticated and know about Haitian name order, this can cause even more confusion.  To avoid such confusion, I give Haitian names in Haitian order, and add an asterix (*) after the name to show it is family-name-first.

2.  CAPITALIZATION:  You will notice that I fail to capitalize many words in kreyòl, such as the names of countries, languages, etc.  These are not errors.  In kreyòl, only the names of people are capitalized, and sometimes, the first word of a sentence.  Many kreyòl-speakers, even highly educated ones who speak, read, and write English, French, and Spanish, never capitalize anything in kreyòl.  To make life easier for the majority of my readers, I have capitalized the beginning of sentences and the first word in each line of the lyrics, as well as the kreyòl word for French--  "Franse"-- even though they would not normally be capitalized in kreyòl.  For my kreyòl-speaking friends, I beg your forgiveness.  My purpose is not to teach the language, which I am not qualified to do, but just to give my English-speaking readers a "taste" of the masterpiece that this song is.


By popular demand, and with the help of Johan Rune, who actually did all the work, here is an index of all the songs published on this blog (as of May 16, 2014), arranged by level of difficulty.  It includes comments by him and by me, concerning the songs.  It also includes an index of songs with special themes, such as holidays and love songs. Thank you, Johan! 

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Actually, the name of this hymn is “Hymn of Joy”, but everybody I know calls it, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”. There’s a long tradition of referring to hymns by their first line, instead of by the name of the hymn. In fact, many popular hymns don’t actually have names, but this one does.

The author, Henry van Dyke, originally wrote it as a poem, which he intended to be sung to the tune “Ode to Joy,” part of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, his last and greatest creation. Beethoven, in turn, composed the tune as a musical setting to a poem by the German poet, Friedrich Schiller, which Schiller called (surprise, surprise!), “Ode to Joy.”  The symphony includes a choir singing the the poem, but with some of the words changed or omitted. 

Some people think it was shabby of Beethoven to steal the title and alter the words of the great poet, but Schiller got his revenge, two centuries late, when the European Union adopted the tune, with different words, as their Union anthem, without giving credit to either the poet OR the composer! Now, every schoolchild in Europe will grow up thinking of Beethoven’s masterpiece as, “that stupid song we had to sing in school!”

At the end of this post, you will find Henry van Dyke’s original lyrics. They have been altered by various churches to fit their own theology in detail, but are all pretty much the same. I am not including Schiller’s original poem, because it is quite lengthy, and I can’t read German, anyway.

Performance notes:

Not much to tell, the tab is really very simple.  Only three chords, and they are dead easy: G, D7, and a slightly unusual version of D7 called D7/A.  Don’t let the complex name scare you, it’s fretted EXACTLY like a regular D7, only you play the open A string too.  Strum the chords where marked with a wiggly, vertical line, and pinch the others where not marked.

Playing the melody is truly easy, if you remember a couple of things:

LEFT HAND: fret the notes in the first space (between the nut and the first fret) with the index     finger, the second space with the middle finger, etc., regardless of which string they are on.  This does not apply to chords, just to the melody line.  Strum all chords with the thumb, where marked.  

RIGHT HAND: pluck the first string with the ring finger, the second string with the middle finger, the third string with the index finger, and the bass string (whichever it is) with the thumb.  When two or more notes in succession fall on the same string, alternate fingers.  Don’t try to pluck the same string twice in a row with the same finger-- it’ll ruin your timing!

Pinch chords involving one of the 3 bass strings and one or more of the three treble strings by plucking the bass string with your thumb and simultaneously plucking the treble string(s) with the appropriate finger(s).  Pinch chords involving only treble strings using the appropriate fingers of the right hand simultaneously.

Hammer-ons are shown with an underscore between the notes. Play them by playing the open second string normally, then immediately hammering the index finger of the left hand down into the first space on the same string.  This allows you to play two notes in succession very rapidly, and also gives you time to play the next note with the same right-hand finger if you wish, without ruining your timing. The two notes will sound smoothly connected to each other, so this technique is also called a ligado, Spanish for “tied”.  Hammer-ons also sound way cool.

That’s it!

 Henry van Dyke’s original lyrics:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
hail Thee as the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day.

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
stars and angels sing around Thee,
center of unbroken praise:
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
blossoming meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
wellspring of the joy of living,
ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou the Father, Christ our Brother,—
all who live in love are Thine:
Teach us how to love each other,
lift us to the Joy Divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus,
which the morning stars began;
Father-love is reigning o'er us,
brother-love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music lifts us sunward
in the triumph song of life.