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Oh, Hush Thee, My Baby

Well, it's a little late for Christmas this year, but it took me longer to refine this song than I expected. This link will bring up two different versions.  There are no barre chords in either one, but that does not mean they are both “easy”.  The first one is beginner to intermediate level of difficulty.  It’s in the key of G, so there are no difficult chords, though there are hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.  They sound cool, and are not hard to do. 

The second version is an exact transcription of the piano music published in the Children’s Songbook, transposed to the key of G, using the transposing engine found in the Church’s interactive music player at  Unlike most piano pieces, this song is doesn’t sound bad as a guitar piece.  There are two musical “parts”, which on the piano are right hand and left hand, making it easy to keep them separate.  On the guitar, this does not work out quite so well.  I have italicized the “left hand” part, and specified “Drop D” tuning (lower the bass E string to D) to aid the guitarist, but it’s still not an easy piece to play.  Many of the necessary techniques are actually classical guitar techniques.  If you can play classical guitar, this is the one for you, but you won’t need my instructions.  If you are not a classical guitarist, I recommend my fingerstyle arrangement. It’s much easier, and frankly, I think it sounds better.

Please note that the chords called for in the tab are for finger position only, not for strumming. Perhaps the best example of this is the initial G7 chord.  Actually, the chord played is a G, since the #1 string is not played.  You could play it as a G-shape if you wanted to, but your fingers would not be in the right position to fret the following melody notes.  Putting your fingers in the G7 shape fixes the problem.  But if you strum the full G7 chord, it will sound wrong.  This piece is intended as an instrumental solo.  It would be hard to play in Eb major, as it is written in the Children’s Songbook.  You’d have to transpose it, which I did. 

You may also notice that most of the D7 chords include the open A string, a departure from the usual practice. Normally, the bass note of this chord is the open D string, and the A string is not used.  Technically, this chord should be called D7/A.  For simplicity, since all the D7 chords are played this way, and the only difference is the open A string, I have labeled them all D7, and show the change in the chord diagram at the end.  This does not matter in the second, harder version, as the Drop D tuning there makes the extreme bass D note available.  I had thought to include Drop D tuning in this version as well, but it seemed an unnecessary complication.

This song is not in the public domain. The copyright is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and is used by permission.  Please abide their use restrictions, and use this only for non-commercial, church or personal use.

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful

Finally, after weeks of arranging, I’ve got this song right.  I wanted to get it posted well before Christmas, but it just needed more work.  Merry Christmas, anyway.

Don’t feel bad if you have trouble with the semi-pattern picking.  Most (but not all) of the melody notes are fretted with the little finger of the left hand.  Like most fingerstyle guitar, the LEFT index finger frets in the first space, the middle in the second space, and the ring finger in the third space.  Hence, the little finger is left free for fretting other notes, but sometimes this is not handy, and you have to release the chord, so you can use one of the other fingers for melody notes, hammer-ons, or slides.

I have not included all the chords that would be needed to strum the song as an accompaniment to singers.  The chords called out in the tablature are only for finger position.  Quite often, the following chord is only represented by a single melody note, or can easily be “faked” without changing the basic position of the chord being held.  In these cases, I have left out the chord symbol.  If you want to know all the chords used in this song, I recommend doing an Internet search for oh come all ye faithful/chords.  The chords shown in the chord chart at the end of the tab really only show the chord shapes used in this arrangement.

There are three verses to this song, and they are all different, with two key changes.  I’ll be playing it, as written, for my ward’s Christmas party this week.  But you need not learn all three verses.  If you can find one of the three that you like, you can simply repeat that one twice.  The first verse is almost all chords, and would go well as an accompaniment to singers, though the key of C is a bit low for most vocalists.  Verse two is in D, and may be easier for a singer, but the verse is tabbed for fingerstyle guitar.  Verse Three is in C again, AND is mostly fingerstyle.

The chords in the first two lines are all strummed, and the other notes can be played easily with the thumb, giving this verse a distinctive, soft sound. It’s also really easy to play that way.  The third line and the chorus contain a lot of pattern picks that are better done as finger-picking, (using “free strokes” for you classical guitarists).  I like to play this section and the second verse near the bridge, for a twangy, “classical” sound.  It wouldn’t hurt to use your fingernails, if you’ve got ’em.

To make finger-picking easier, remember to use your right ring finger to pluck the notes on the #1 string (high e).  Use your RIGHT middle finger to pluck notes on the #2 (B) string, and the RIGHT index finger for notes on the #3 (G) string.  The RIGHT thumb plucks the bass strings.  In the last measure before the Chorus, you’ll have to strum the two bass strings to play them both with the thumb.

The first measure of the chorus introduces a riff that sounds like it is repeated throughout the song. Though there are many similar measures throughout the song, there are no actual repetitions.  Fortunately, they are not at all hard to do, and they all sound great.

In the second line of the chorus, watch out for the glissando (slide) on the third (G) string.  Use the LEFT middle finger to make the slide.  Timing is critical, and to sound good, you must hit the tenth fret exactly, without overshooting or undershooting.  Hold that note (F) with a bit of vibrato if necessary.

In the second and third lines of the second verse, pay special attention to the tab.  The notes aren’t always what you would expect.  Sometimes they change slightly, for example from a D to a C# and back, in order to conform to the melody, even though the chord names do not change.  If something sounds wrong to you, you may be missing a slight change in the notes shown in the tab.

There’s another glissando in the second line of the second chorus.  Again, accuracy is super important.  Hold the final G of the slide with vibrato if needed. 

The third verse contains chords designed to add a “full” sound to the music: six-string chords such as the barre chords GIII and FI and the non-barre chord C/G.  If you’ve come this far, please don’t skip them.  They are there to prepare the audience for the finale, and paradoxically, they may also make the music easier to play on the guitar.  Remember, chords with the strum marking are to be strummed.  All others are to be pinched.

Slow almost to half-speed for the final line.  The glissando in the second measure is exactly like the one in the first verse.  Hold the final C/G chord as long as you can, preferably for the full eight counts.  This is hard to do if you are playing an acoustic guitar, but do your best.  It’ll sound wonderful, a real crowd pleaser.

About the song:

This song was originally written in Latin, under the title Adeste Fideles, which could be translated as, “Approach, faithful ones.”  The author and composer are uncertain, but the earliest extant copies from the 1700s were all signed by John Francis Wade, an English Catholic hymnist, and it is most commonly attributed to him.

Latin puns and other internal evidence in the lyrics have led many to conclude that the hymn was originally composed in celebration of the birth of Charles Edward Stuart, the Jacobite pretender to the crown of England, known to history as Bonny Prince Charlie.  His cause was defeated when the Jacobite rising of 1745 was crushed, but the song lives on.  It is a perennial favorite in most Catholic countries and virtually all English speaking ones.  (See the Wikipedia articles Adeste Fideles, John Francis Wade, and Bonny Prince Charlie for more details.)