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Auld Lang Syne

Easy.  Enjoy!  Happy New Year!

With Wondering Awe

This lovely Christmas carol plays really well in C, but sounds better capoed up a couple of frets to D. Unfortunately, the original music is in G, so it’s a bit of a stretch to go that high with a capo. Best bet if you want to play a duet with another instrument is to use the interactive transposer on’s website. It’s currently located on each hymn’s page at the top of the page, though the church has moved it around a bit in the last few years.

There’s a lot of “expression” in this version: slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc. I’m sorry if it makes this song a bit hard to play, but not everything that’s lovely can also be easy. Practice helps. I’ve worked hard to get this out in time to give you a month to practice. The chords are easy, at least! There are three barre chords listed, but they are all the same chord, really. Just a barre-E chord shape, played at different frets. The others are just variations of C, G, or Dm, and should be easy enough.

There’s a trick to make the slide/pull-off in the first measure easier. Fret the first string in the 1st  space with the index finger, and in the 3rd space with the ring finger at the same time. When you slide up to the 5th space (with the ring finger), the index finger is then automatically positioned in the 3rd space for the pull-off. Another way to do this is to position your hand for the CaddG chord as shown and play it from there, sliding the whole chord up and down the neck. This may make it  easier to pinch the C chord in the next measure.

Sometimes, instead of the pull-off, I just do a slide back down to the third space, making a mordant, instead of a complex slide/pull-off. They sound equally good to me, and I can’t decide which to put in here. Try it both ways, and use the one that’s best for you. Actually, this riff occurs in three other places in the song, so you can have it both ways!

Don’t let the name of the GaddD chord in measure [3] throw you. It’s fretted just like a normal G, only with the ring finger on the #2 string instead of the #1 string, so it’s actually easier to play. From this point on, until measure [15], all the chords are quite standard for any intermediate guitarist. Even the G7addD chord in [15] isn’t all that hard. It’s just a normal G7 with the D note added on the #2 string. You can play it like a normal G7 and add the D note with your pinkie, if you want to, but you aren’t going to be playing the #5 and #6 strings, so it’s just as easy to play it as a two-finger chord, hitting the D note with your ring finger. This sets you up for a super easy transition to the GaddD at the end of the measure.

In measure [16], you don’t have to actually fret the G7 chord, as you’re only playing the open strings. I just lift my hand off the fretboard briefly, without changing the finger positions. That sets up the C/G in the next measure really nicely. I only included the name of the G7 in the tab so you would know not to change your hand position to a normal G shape.

Verse 2 is nearly all eighth-notes, alternating between treble melody notes and bass fill notes, with very few chords, until you reach measure [25]. You do this with a rocking motion of the right wrist, interspersed with the occasional arpeggio or pattern-pick. I won’t go into the details; they should be obvious from the tab. From [25] to the end of the verse is basically a repeat of the Intro.

Verse 3 is very much like Verse 2, only with pinched chords instead of single melody notes. The real differences come at the end of the verse, starting in [37]. Hold the CaddG chord for two extra beats, as shown in the counting line: 1 2 3 (45) 6 &. You may find it a bit of a challenge to go from GIII to CVIII and stay on the beat, without over-running the 8th space. If practice doesn’t help you to nail this fast and accurately, try substituting just the C note on the #1 string for the CVIII chord. It won’t sound as good as the whole chord, but it’s way better than flubbing the climax of the song.


This song was first published in Laudis Corona, a Catholic hymnal published in Boston in 1885. The composer and lyricist are both anonymous. Anybody know anything more?

Ye Elders of Israel

This song is lots of fun to sing. The challenge was making it fun to play, without either oversimplifying or making it too complicated. I hope you’ll think I’ve succeeded.


The song begins in the key of A, because that’s the one key that is easy to play this melody in on the guitar. There’s lots of repetition. Each verse consists of a melody phrase of two lines, repeated exactly in the next two lines. Then, the same phrase is repeated once again in the chorus. The first and second verses are identical. To add a little variety to all this repetition, I have used a pattern pick in the chorus, and used mostly chords in the verses. There are only four chords used in the first two verses, and all four are dead easy to play.

At the end of the second chorus, there’s a key change to C. It’s not technically difficult to make the change, but you may find it mentally difficult to go from one key to another in the middle of a pattern pick. It’ll also blow the minds of your audience, so practice the key change until you can do it without any change in tempo. The trick is to not think of it as a key change, but as just another chord change, which, in fact, it is.

The verse part of the third verse continues the pattern pick, right on into the chorus, still in the key of C. But the third verse chorus is repeated as a bass line, leading up to the final four measures of chords. These are still easy chords. In fact, there’s not a barre chord or a difficult chord in the song anywhere. That doesn’t mean the song is easy, though. The 88 beats per minute tempo is pretty fast, considering that the pattern picks are all eighth-notes. If you’re not used to playing pattern picks, be careful! The pattern changes a lot to bring out the melody, and may not be apparent at first. You’re going to be doing a lot of left hand movements to hit the right notes, including lots of ligados (hammer-ons and pull-offs and slides), right from the beginning.

The Chords

Yeah, there are twelve of them, but that’s not as bad as you may think, as you probably already know almost all of them, by one name or another. Specifically, the first two verses just use A, E, E7, and D. If you want, you can just play the whole song in this key by repeating the verse and chorus a third time. Duck soup easy, but not terribly impressive.

For those who are a bit more adventurous, play the third verse as tabbed, in the key of C. Here’s where the majority of the chords come in. There’s C, F, and G7, of course, plus a couple of “added fifth” chords for flavor, and a couple of alternate ways of playing C, F and G. Those last two are actually easier to play than the normal way. 

Added fifth chords (a bit of chord theory)

In playing CaddG, you are just adding the fifth note of the C scale to a normal C chord. In playing G7addD you are adding the fifth note of the G scale to a normal G7. That’s why they are called “added fifth” chords. These extra notes are actually part of the normal chord structure, but are added in again to emphasize that note. For example, a C chord contains the notes C, E, and G. That’s the definition of a “C Major” chord. But, as normally played on the guitar, it comes out: x32010, or [blank] C E G C E. If you want to emphasize the G note, or if the G on the open 3rd string is too low for the melody, you can add in a higher G by fretting the 1st string in the 3rd space: x32013, or [blank] C E G C G. Chords like this are usually called “added fifth” chords, and are usually written Cadd5 or Gadd5. Frankly, I find this more confusing than helpful, but I don’t want to just call them C or G, (which would technically be correct) as they are played differently. So I specify the added notes in the chord name: CaddG and GaddD. Please don’t just play an ordinary C or G. In this song, the added notes are needed to carry the melody or an important harmony. 

Alternate bass chords are similar-- you’re just using a different note of the chord than usual for the bass note. Such chords are written like this: C/G. Technically, this chord would be called “C with a G bass,” or something similar, but most guitarists just call it “C over G”. Pianists and other guitarists know what they mean, and who else cares? C/G is played by adding a bass G on the #6 string, 3rd space with the pinkie. If you have a very small hand and a very wide guitar neck, this might be hard for you. You can substitute a normal C chord, if you wish. G/C is even easier. You just play it like the first three strings of an F, only in the the third space (Third Position). Easiest of the lot is F/C. That’s another three-string chord, played exactly like an ordinary D chord, only in the Fifth Position (5th fret), as shown in the tab and the chord charts.

That’s IT. There are NO BARRE CHORDS and NO HARD CHORDS in this song. NONE!


In measure [2], starting from a normal A-Shape position, move the left hand DOWN the neck of the guitar (toward the nut) to fret the Ab on the 3rd string, 1st space, then slide right back to the 2nd space. You’ll have to lift the fingers off the strings going down to avoid scraping the string, but don’t change the hand shape, as you’re going to need it again immediately. Next, the ring finger gets a workout, fretting and releasing the 2nd string, still without changing the chord shape. Fret the 2nd string in the 3rd space with the pinkie, still maintaining the chord for the three-string pinch in the 4th measure. Move up to Second Position (shown by Roman numeral II) for the pull-off, going back to the A chord for the next two measures.

Continue to play as shown throughout the second line, with one exception: in measure [8], you don’t actually have to change chord shapes with your left hand. From the E7, you can just flatten the fingers across the strings to hit the A chord, then go right back to the E. In the last measure of the line, it’s best to actually change to the A-shape, as you’re going to let the notes ring. Measures [10] through [17] are played exactly like [2] through [9], except that the last three chords are strummed instead of being pinched. All the notes are identical.

Pattern picks

The chorus is a modified pattern-pick. Calling the right hand fingers Thumb, Index, Middle, and Ring, with an asterisk indicating a left hand ligado, and separating measures with slashes, the chorus pick looks like this:


The pattern doesn’t repeat exactly, but it’s not completely random, either. Play this chorus, exactly the same, after each of the first two verses. Then, change chords to the C chord that begins the third verse. Since you’re now playing in a different key, the pattern pick must change also. The pattern  for measures [26] - [33] is:

/ RTIM  RMRM /  RTIR  MTMT / RTIR          *T        RT / MTIR  M T I T / 

IMPORTANT: These patterns do not indicate which strings to play with the right hand, only which fingers to use!  They have been worked out to avoid situations where you might have to play the same string with the same finger in twice succession, which would cause you to mess up the rhythm. However, this is a personal preference. If a further modification suits you better, by all means use it.

Measures [34] - [37] are played exactly like [26] - [29], but the next line is NOT an exact duplicate of the second line, as you might expect. Measures [38] and [39] are:

/ RTIR  RT*T /  RTIR  MTMT /  but next is a measure of pinches, followed by a strum.

The chorus of the third verse (measures [42] - [49] inclusive) is exactly like [26] - [33], except for the last note, which is a bass G on the 6th string, 3rd space, to lead into the chorus reprise. This reprise, comprising measures [50] - [57], is basically just the melody line of the chorus, played on the bass strings, up until the C chord in measure [53].  The two notes on the open G string in [55] give you plenty of time to move your hand to the Fifth Position (5th fret) for the F/C chord. Slow down a bit as you change positions for the other two chords of the measure, just enough for emphasis, but not so slow that it looks like you are having trouble reaching them. I like to end on a C/G chord for a fuller sound, but if this shape is too hard to reach quickly, just play a regular C. No one but you will notice the difference.


A wonderful family history entry about Cyrus H. Wheelock, who wrote the words, can be found at this link:  The tune, called “Babylon”, was adapted from the song, “Long, Long Ago”, written in England by Thomas H. Bayly in 1833. It was a nostalgic tune that immediately became quite popular in England, and was also popular in the United States by 1844. Brother Wheelock could scarcely have helped hearing the song, as he served three missions to England, and was writing hymns in Utah during the period of its greatest popularity in the US, but we have no information about the date the poem was written, or who adapted the tune to it. 

Praise to the Lord new version

I finally got it right, after two previous versions and months of pondering. This version is not as easy as the easy version, nor as hard as the hard one, but it’s better than either, especially the finale, which is completely new.

You won’t need many instructions for this one.

Play the first four measures from a C chord hand position. This positions your hand perfectly for the following GaddD chord, but you may substitute a full-barre GIII if it’s easier for you. I often do.

The next line is nearly identical to the first, except for the C chord in the second measure and the GIII chord in the last measure of the line. Again, if it’s easier for you, you can substitute GaddD. I like to use one of these chords in the first line, and the other in the second line, for a slight difference in the harmonies.

The CaddG chord in the next measure is necessary to carry the melody. Do not substitute a normal C chord! If the CaddG chord is too hard for you, just play the G note of the chord. Do the tremolo in the next measure with the little finger. Make the tremolo strong.

In the next-to-last measure of the third line, over the word “organ”, there’s a Roman numeral III. This indicates a change of the left hand to “Third Position” (also called “third fret”). Use your index finger to fret the G note in the third space, then slide it back to the first space and do the pull-off, leaving your hand once again positioned for the following GaddD chord. This makes an otherwise difficult transition into an easy one. Similarly, in the last line, the Roman numeral II means you play the G note on the bass string with your middle finger, and the hammer-on in the same measure with your index finger.

Play the last four measures normally. Play as many verses as you like. Then, last time around, substitute the last line for these four measures. The last line is intended to be played through as a single, long phrase, up until the final three chords. Note that the fifth and sixth measures of the line are exactly the same as the first and second measures.

This long riff ends with a double hammer-on. If you use the ring finger to hammer-on the D note on the 2nd string, it puts you in a perfect position to play the following GaddD chord. You won't need to move your fingers for the final note of the riff, as it's an open E. The riff does not need to be especially fast to be effective. It does need to be played at a steady, unvarying rhythm. Then, slow down a bit for the last three chords. Play them as cleanly as possible, without buzzing or slurring. Your audience will love it.

Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

This is an EASY song to play. Don’t be fooled by the Roman numerals or the final C/G chord, which is just a normal C, with the G note added on the 6th string with the little finger . There are really only two, very easy chords in this song: C and a two-finger version of G. The rest is just a bit of lead, with a trick to make it even easier.

The trick is to move your hand one fret up the guitar neck, from time to time, then back to the normal position, for the following C chord. In classical guitar, this normal position is called, “First Position”. So, one fret higher on the neck would be “Second Position,” right? It is indicated by a Roman Numeral II above the staff.

Normally, you would fret the notes in the first space with the index finger, the notes in the second space with the middle finger, and the notes in the third space with the ring finger. In Second Position, that means that any notes in the second space are to be fretted with the index finger, while those in the third space are fretted with the middle finger, and those in the fourth space with the ring finger. That’s the “trick.” By knowing when to move your hand up the neck, and how far, you can make complex-looking riffs easy!

It is a bit tough to reach a normal G chord from Second Position, so I use a modified, two-finger “wrap-around” G. Fret the first string with the middle or ring finger, while wrapping the hand around the neck, so you can fret the sixth string with the thumb.  Mute the A string with the thumb also, so it doesn’t sound. This chord is actually easier to do on steel string guitars, with their narrow necks, and is often used in rock music. If it’s too big a reach for you, don’t play the fifth and sixth strings. Or you can substitute a full-barre GIII if you wish.

There are no advanced techniques in this song, but there are lots of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, which makes it easy to play quickly. Nevertheless, learn it slowly first, keeping the timing perfect, until you’ve got it memorized. It won’t take long, as there’s lots of repetition. Then speed up to full speed. Learning it this way will ensure that your timing never varies, and that will blow the minds of your audience.

I did not split any measures, except for the first and last. This resulted in a split slide at the end of the third line and beginning of the fourth line.  Perform this slide from 2nd to 3rd fret exactly the same as the one two measures previous. The only difference is in the way I had to write it, to go from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.

I would perform several verses. This song has the potential to be a great set opener, and a perennial crowd-pleaser.


The lyrics are from a poem by Joseph S. Murdock, and refer to his friendship with Joseph Smith, Jr., for whom he had acted as a bodyguard. The music is by Joseph J. Daynes, a child prodigy who became the first Tabernacle organist at age sixteen, in 1867. He held that position until 1900. Evan Stephens, the conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during Daynes’ tenure as organist, said Daynes “was, without doubt, one of the greatest organists of his time.”

The song is in the Public Domain.

Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words

I tried to tab this exactly as written in Hymns, but it was too hard to play, so I transposed it into the key of C and started over. It was easier to play, but too staccatto, so I eliminated some of the chords. It sounded better, so I kept simplifying, until I had produced this version. I like the full version for organ and choir, but for the guitar, it needs to be simple. Since it was so simple already, I re-wrote it one last time to eliminate the few remaining barre chords.

Special instructions:

Very few special instructions are needed for this song. There’s a slide in the first measure on page two, immediately followed by a hammer-on. You could do both as slides, but it’s difficult to sustain the note long enough. (Hint: if you’re going to try this, fret the whole riff with the index finger.) Or, you could substitute a pull-off for the slide, but it sounds harsher. The song is all about softness and sweet tones of the heart, so use the slide if you can. You may find it necessary, as I do, to slide with the index finger, so you can hammer-on with the middle finger.

Two measures later, there’s a modified C chord, with the melody note (G) added on the 1st string, 3rd space, using the little finger. This chord could also be called CaddG,but since it only occurs once, and is a simple modification of the chord you are already holding, I’ve chosen not to mention it in the tab. If it’s too hard, just put in the melody note and leave off the rest of the chord. Fret the slide which follows with the pinkie, which positions your hand back in the C chord position for the last two pinches of the measure.

In the next measure there’s a series of three-string pinches, all fretted in the fifth fret. This is actually an alternate way of playing a C chord. It is usually played as a barre chord, with the barre in the third space (barred A shape). It is not necessary to actually play it that way here, since the only strings used are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, eliminating the need for a barre. Play it like an A chord, only fretted in the 5th space. Just be sure to only play the fretted strings!

At the end of this line, there are four notes that do not correspond to any words in the lyrics. This is a fill, put in by me, because I cannot hold a note for three beats at the slow pace of this song, without tremolo. Tremolos below the fourth fret do not work well on the guitar, and are not easy. The fill is not part of the original hymn. Leave it out if you wish.

You will want to use tremolos where called for in the tab. Place the ring finger in the indicated space, as you would if you were fretting the note normally with that finger. Then, without actually sliding the fingertip, wiggle the finger back and forth rapidly along the string by moving the whole hand along the neck. Watch a video of any violinist playing to see what this looks like. Tremolos above the fourth fret are rather easy to do, help sustain the note, and sound really cool.


In 1939, Joseph Townsend, the author of this hymn, who was then about ninety years old, was contacted for background information about the song. “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words” was written, he said, while he was in the superintendency of a very large Sunday School.  The people seemed given to fault-finding remarks, and he thought how much finer it would be to hear kind words spoken more often. He said the song stopped the gossip and produced a kindlier feeling in the town.

Though he wrote many hymns, this one may have been his favorite, as “Kind Words are Sweet Tones of the Heart” is the only thing engraved on his headstone, besides his name and dates of birth and death.


Like so many others, this tune was composed by Ebenezer Beesley (1840-1906), a prolific writer and composer of LDS hymns, handcart pioneer, and an early director of the Tabernacle Choir. Besides this hymn, there are eleven more of his compositions in the current (green) LDS hymnal:

    5  “High on the Mountain Top”
  16  “What Glorious Scenes Mine Eyes Behold”
  32  “The Happy Day at Last Has Come”
  76  “God of Our Fathers, We Come unto Thee”
  77  “Great Is the Lord”
153 “Lord We Ask Thee Ere We Part”
156  “Sing We Now at Parting”
177  “‘Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love”
185  “Reverently and Meekly Now”
280  “Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning”
282  “We Meet Again in Sabbath School”.

We're okay.

As some of you may know, my wife and I are currently serving a temple mission here is Santiago Chile, where we were treated (???) to an 8.3 earthquake last night, plus "dozens of aftershocks", if you believe the news. We only felt four or five, but they were pretty big for "aftershocks"! Anyway, we are okay, and the temple is still here, with only the most minor of damage. Pray for the folks on the coast, who were subjected to tsunami waves reaching as high as 15 feet in some places.

‘Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love

This is not an easy one, but it’s pretty, and that’s excuse enough. It’s got hard, unusual chords, difficult chord changes, and a most unusual time signature.  I can’t remember ever playing anything in 6/4 time before. Fortunately, that’s the easiest part. You play it just like 6/8 time, except at half speed. The song, as written for choral singing, is even slower. I’ve speeded it up by nearly fifty percent for the guitar solo. It still sounds slow and deliberate, but it doesn’t d-r-a-g.

The faster speed does make the difficult chord transitions even more difficult, as they have to be done quickly. For all the above reasons, I’ve classified this song as “advanced.” If you’re at home with barre chords, especially with barred C-shape chords, you won’t find this piece especially hard. There are two of them: FV and GVII. Both need to be reached in a single, quick motion: the   Ffrom a normal C chord, and the GVII from a GIII. Neither is easy to accomplish quickly, without lots of practice. If you are an advanced player, you will already have done this practice. Most intermediate players are not used to this chord shape. But if you are an intermediate player, and want to move up, this is a good song to learn on, as it’ll force you to learn to hit the chord in a single motion, without any “finger dancing.”

If you look closely at the tab or the chord charts, you will see that there are three different G chords used in this song, and three different G7 chords. Please do use all of them. They have different sounds, and relate to different harmonies and different chord progressions. None of them should be particularly difficult for an intermediate or advanced player.

Please note that this tab is for the tune name HANCOCK, as shown in Hymns #177, and will not work for the tune name MEREDITH (Hymns #176). I can’t recall ever having heard #176 actually sung in church. The lyrics are the same, but the melodies are very different, and have different composers.

Ebenezer Beesley (1840-1906), who composed this tune, was a prolific writer and composer. He was a handcart pioneer who emigrated to Utah from England with his family. In 1880 he became the director of the Tabernacle Choir. Besides this hymn, there are eleven others of his compositions in the current English language LDS Church hymnal:

    5 “High on the Mountain Top”
  16 “What Glorious Scenes Mine Eyes Behold”
  32 “The Happy Day at Last Has Come”
  76 “God of Our Fathers, We Come unto Thee”
  77 “Great Is the Lord”
153 “Lord We Ask Thee Ere We Part”
156 “Sing We Now at Parting”
185 “Reverently and Meekly Now”
232 “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words”
280 “Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning”
282 “We Meet Again in Sabbath School”.

George A. Manwaring (1854-1889), the lyricist for this hymn, often collaborated with Beesley. They had much in common. Both were pioneers, British emigrés, polygamists, early Tabarnacle Choir members, and prolific hymn writers. A more extensive biography of Manwaring can be found attached to the posting for “Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part”.

O Thou Rock of Our Salvation

Actually, this song is easier than it appears.  There are really only four chords.  You can play all the Fs as FI if you are not afraid of barre chords.  That’s how I actually play it, most of the time.  GIII is exactly the same chord shape as FI, of course, only two frets higher on the neck. The other two F chords, F and F/C, are put in to make it easier to play. You can actually play the whole piece without using any barre chords, just by leaving off the special chorus that comes after the last verse, substituting instead the regular chorus.

If you can play in the key of C, you already know how to play a normal F chord. F/C is played the same way.  Just add in the C note on the 5th string, 3rd space, with your little finger.  Similarly, the C/G chord is just a normal C, with the G note added in on the 6th string, 3rd space, again with the little finger.

If this is too much of a stretch for you, substitute a normal C, and start working on some finger stretching exercises.  My favorite is to spread the little finger and ring finger of the left hand by placing two fingers of the right hand between them for ten seconds. Then place three fingers between them for ten seconds. Then do the same between the middle and ring fingers. Then do the same between the index and middle fingers. You can do these exercises unobtrusively anywhere. Done several times a day, this should loosen up your fretting hand fast.

A couple of tricks to make this piece even easier:
-- When playing a C chord, and the tab calls for you to fret the 3rd string, 2nd space (A), it’s usually easiest to do so by flattening the middle finger across the strings briefly, rather than moving the whole hand.
-- When doing a pull-off on the 3rd string, as in the second measure, starting and ending with a C chord,  it may be easier to do it as a push-off instead. It will sound the same, but you don’t need to release and re-fret the chord, which slows you down a lot. Trying to do the pull-off without releasing the chord is awkward, and makes for a weak pull-off.


from Wkipedia:

William Clayson (1840–1887) was a Latter-day Saint hymn writer who wrote the music of "The Day Dawn is Breaking"; "Nearer, Dear Savior, to Thee"; "Hope of Israel"; "O Thou Rock of Our Salvation"; "The Iron Rod" and "Oh, What Songs of the Heart".

Clayson was born in England. He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1855. In 1859 he served as branch president in Irchester. In 1861 he emigrated to Utah Territory, settling in Payson, Utah. He married Susan Moulton in Utah who he had become engaged to before leaving England. He was associated with the LDS Sunday School in Payson, and all his hymn tunes were written as accompaniments to words by Joseph L. Townsend, who was also associated with the Sunday School in Payson.

That’s all I know about the composition and lyrics of this song. Does anyone know any more?

I Stand All Amazed

I couldn’t find this hymn, in my records, so I rewrote it, then found the old one here on the blog. I like the new version MUCH better! It’s actually easier to play, too. I feel I was inspired to do the new version. Try it!

Level of difficulty

This is going to be one of my personal favorites!  Play it with lots of feeling. There are no barre chords, no hard chords-- not many chords at all. Most of the piece is melody. I’ve tried to avoid hard chord changes. There’s a lot of repetition, too: the second two lines of the verse are almost a complete repetition of the first two lines.

There are quite a few hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and tremolos. For this reason, I was tempted to classify the piece as Intermediate level, but honestly, it’s not beyond most beginners. You could actually omit those special techniques and it would sound okay, but please don’t! It sounds SOOO much better with “expression.” The following paragraphs tell in detail how to do this.


I’ve tried to arrange the fingering to make it easy and smooth. This requires a slight alteration in the way you play the CaddD chord. Play it like a C chord, but with the D added on the 2nd string, 3rd space, as shown in the chord charts. Leave the index finger in place too, on the same string, as in a normal C chord, and it positions your hand perfectly for the pull-off which follows.


Play the last line on page one as a single phrase. In the fourth measure of that line, move your hand position up the neck of the guitar, and fret the D on the 2nd string, 3rd space with your index finger. That’s what the Roman numeral III above the note indicates. This allows you to fret the C on the third string, 5th space, with your ring finger. Your middle finger then falls naturally into position for the slide, making an easy transition to the strummed G7 chord. This may seem like a lot of finger dancing for the sake of one easy chord change. Trust me, it’s not. I spent nearly as much time smoothing out chord changes as I did in arranging the rest of the song.

In the next-to-last measure of the next-to-last line of the Chorus, I've made one significant change. Instead of pinching the 2nd and 4th strings for the double slide, as in the previous line, strum the first four strings, with strings #1 and #3 open. These strings will continue to ring as you do the double slide on the other two strings, giving an interesting effect.

The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th measures of the Chorus also need to be played as a single musical phrase. I suggest you practice with a metronome until you can play each phrase with absolute regularity. The fastest way to do this is to start slowly, maybe even at half speed. Do not increase your speed until you can play each phrase with absolute regularity of tempo. Gradually increase the speed with increasing fluency, until you can play at full speed in perfect tempo.


In the next line, do the “strong tremolo” with the ring finger, to set up for the double slide that follows. Make the tremolo as strong as possible, vibrating the ring finger along (not across) the string, without actually moving the end of the finger. Use the middle and ring fingers for the double slide. Pre-spray the strings with string lubricant if necessary, to avoid squeaking. Trust me, all this “expression” without ever pausing or changing pace will blow the minds of your listeners.

You can strum the pinched chords, or pinch any of the strummed ones, if you wish. I’ve put in a variety, with mostly pinched chords in the verse, and mostly strummed ones in the chorus. In some places, I’ve done it to make playing easier, in others for the sound effect. Try it as tabbed, then make any modifications you like.  I don’t have an electric guitar available to try this song on, but I bet it would sound great. Somebody please try it and let me know.


Charles Hutchinson Gabriel composed the music and wrote the lyrics. Known as a child prodigy of the organ, he began writing and composing hymns for his own church by age 16. As a young adult, he began a career as a prolific professional gospel song writer / composer. He is said to have written and/or composed between 7,000 and 8,000 songs, many still available in hymnals of various churches. He wrote under several names, including Charlotte G. Homer!

Gabriel was also known as a humble man, apparently unaffected by the adulation that often gives child prodigies a swelled head. This song reflects his humility in Christ. It is in the public domain. I have been unable to find any more specific details about its composition. The message speaks for itself.

We Are All Enlisted

Only four chords to this song, and they’re all super easy!  Not only that, but fully half of the twenty-four measures are repeats.  You only have to learn these measures, and you’ve got the whole song:  [1], [2], [3], [4], [7], [9], [10], [11], [12], [15], and [16].  I’m not counting [8], which consists entirely of a single, strummed C chord.  The only place where the repetition is not exact is in the last line, where the notes are picked separately, without hammer-ons or slides.

There are no hard chords or difficult transitions, but the tempo is FAST, so I added a change of pace in the middle.  It’s slower than the rest of the song, but still not exactly SLOW. Remember, the metronome numbers are for quarter-notes, not eighth-notes, and the song is arranged in 8/8 time, so each beat of the metronome counts for TWO “counting numbers,” not one.  If you want to count each counting number separately, double the metronome speed.

Nearly all the G7 chords in the tab are really Gs, but there’s no need to kill your hand making fast chord changes. The #1 string is not played in any of these G chords, so the difference is academic.  It’s easier to hit the melody notes from a G7 hand position, so I’ve called them all G7.  You can play G the “right” way if you like, but your hand will get mighty tired.

In measures [7] and [23], do the hammer-on with the ring finger, leaving the middle finger free to do the slide which follows. The last note of the measure is an open e-string, giving you time to position your hand for the following C chord strum.

Some chords are pinched, some are strummed, and some are played as arpeggios. If you are using finger-picks, be sure to play the arpeggios with the fingers, leaving the thumb and thumb pick free to strum the next chord.  If you try to strum the arpeggios, you may have difficulty getting the thumb back into strumming position in time. You will either have a choppy rhythm, or you may hit the strings with the thumb pick on the way up.

A couple of tips:
-- the pull-offs on the third string are easier to do quickly as push-offs. Instead of pulling the string away from you to pluck it with the middle finger of the left hand, push it toward you to pluck it. This may seem a bit unnatural at first, but it’s not hard to do.
-- in measures [7] and [23], fret the A note on the third string, 2nd space, by briefly flattening the  middle finger across the string, instead of moving it from the fifth string. It’s a bit faster, where speed really counts.

It’s not actually necessary, but I like to end the song with a C/G chord, which is just a normal C with the G note added with the little finger on the #6 string. It gives a fuller sound than a normal C chord, but contains all the same notes. If you’re following the tab, your finger will already be there, but if you have trouble hitting it in tempo, just play a normal C, as tabbed.

In this song, tempo is king. It sounds terrific when played at speed, and it’s not hard to do. With a little practice, you can sound like a fretboard wizard.

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

As promised, here is the tab.  You’ll notice right away that it doesn’t resemble “Come Ye Disconsolate” nearly as much as you may have thought it would, even though both have been transposed into the key of C for easier playing.

That does not mean it is easy to play.  You really do need to play the FV chord to make the melody come out right. Substituting the more common FI chord just will not work, as the melody goes up very high, and the FI chord is very low-pitched.  There are no easy verses.  This is NOT a good song to learn barre chords. If you are not rather comfortable playing them, practice on other songs, until you are comfortable with them.

The Em in the next-to-last measure of the first verse has to be played with the index and middle fingers, as shown in the chord chart, even if you usually play it with the middle and ring finger, or you will never get a clean pull-off on the 4th string. In fact, I can only get it right by doing a “push-off” with the middle finger, pushing it toward me, rather than pulling it away from me, as is the usual practice.

In the last line of the first verse, there are two places where you have to hold a note with tremolo, then slide it to the next note without re-picking it. Your ear will tell you how long to hold the first note before beginning the slide.  If you hold it too long, the second note will be too soft, unless you are playing an electric guitar. This actually is not a bad idea. Try for a sound that rings clear and sweet, similar to the one the Beatles used in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The audience will be weeping too.

You may also find the finale a bit difficult, especially the second time around. There are no special techniques here. You are playing high up on the fretboard, where the frets are close together. It makes it easier to stretch to the 12th fret, but there’s not much room for error in those tiny spaces.  Good luck!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Apology:  I know I promised my next song would be “Where Can I Turn for Peace.”  It’s just not coming together quickly.  Normally, I’d just take the time to do it right, but my wife and I have just begun a temple mission here in Santiago, Chile, and have not even finished unpacking yet.  I had been saving this one for Christmas, as many consider it a Christmas Carol, which it is not (see History below).

The tab:

This is written as a duet for two guitars, but I originally intended it as a duet with another kind of instrument.  I think it would sound especially good with a violin, cello, flute, or woodwind.  Since these all play in different keys, I didn’t know whether to write the guitar part in Am or Em, so I did it in both.  Then I realized that you could also get an interesting effect by playing both versions together, with the Em part played with a capo to put them in the same key.  Hence, the duet version.  If you just want to play it as a solo, or to accompany singers, I recommend the Am version (upper staff).  It’s easier, and just as pretty, and there are no hard transitions and only one barre chord.  In fact, it’s one of the easier songs I know.  If the barred Amv is too hard for you, substitute the regular Am as in the last measure of the previous line.  It won’t sound quite as good, but the audience won’t know.

There are a lot of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.  Please don’t leave them out, as they contribute greatly to the beauty of the song.  Despite the large number of such ligado techniques, the slow, regular tempo makes this an ideal vehicle for learning them, so I have listed the difficulty level as “beginner to intermediate”.  There are no unusual chords in the upper staff, but there are a few melody notes that are not part of the chords being played.  Watch for them.

In the 4th measure, fret the D note on the 2nd string with the little finger.  In the second measure of the third line, make the slide with the ring finger, for strength.  The little finger probably will not be strong enough.  In the last line before the Finale, there’s a mordant.  This is a technical music term meaning to slide the note up to the next note and back down again.  It counts as one beat of the tempo.  Do it with the middle finger, then pull off the third string, all in one fluid phrase.  It’s not hard to do, and sounds fantastic.  If you tend to speed up during this maneuver, play it with a metronome.  There are several good metronome apps available free on the internet.  Some are even abailable as phone apps.

The song, as usually sung, has seven verses, but since this is an instrumental solo, you can include as many or as few as you like.  After the last verse, play the Finale.  It sounds much like a repetition of the last line, but there are differences.  Play it about half speed, for emphasis.

The lower staff is in the key of Em.  If you’re playing it as a guitar duet, place the capo in the 5th space.  If you’re playing with some other instrument, or with singers, put the capo wherever you need to.  This version is a bit harder than the upper staff, and contains a couple of barre chords.  The G (7)  chord is actually easier than it looks.  It’s a normal G chord, but since you’re not playing the 1st string anyway, you can fret it as if it were a G7, which makes the transition faster.


This lovely, medieval melody, from the early Middle Ages, may be more than 1000 years old.  Like other very old songs, even the century of composition is not known for sure.  Most authorities place it around the Twelfth Century, but it could well be based on Gregorian chants and “plainsong” (unaccompanied singing) of the Eighth or Ninth Century.  Others point out that it did not achieve its present form until much later, possibly as “recently” as the late 1400s.

The lyrics are based on a Catholic chant usually sung at evening prayer (“Vespers”), in which the leader calls out one of the seven names of Christ in the New Testament, and the choir responds.  The seven verses of the poem correspond to these seven names, except that the last one, Emmanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”) has been moved to the first position in the hymn.

Like many other hymns, the lyrics were originally sung to other tunes than the one we now associate with it.  The present tune has been associated with the hymn for centuries, so long that the tune has taken on the name of the chant, “Veni, veni” (“O come, o come” in Latin).  Until it was translated into English scarcely 150 years ago, it was known by the Latin title.  The English title is an exact translation.  Latin customs in writing titles used capital letters only at the beginning of the first word, and for names and references to Deity, so English writers who wish to appear authentic follow that convention, and may also spell “Oh” as just the letter O, but it’s okay to modernize the spelling if you wish.  Since the song has been around so long, and no one knows how it originally went anyway, it’s also perfectly acceptable to arrange the music to suit yourself.  It’s definitely in the Public Domain.

Here are the verses, in the most popular English translation, done by John Mason Neale in 1851:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Come, Ye Disconsolate

Don’t confuse this hymn with “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” which it strongly resembles, both musically and in sentiment. I’ll tab that one next time. If you do sometimes confuse them, pat yourself on the back. They are not even in the same key, which means you are transposing one or both of them in your head, consciously or not.

This guitar arrangement is in three verses of varying difficulty.
Moore’s original lyrics for the second and third verses were somewhat different:

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope when all others die, fadeless and pure;
Here speaks the Comforter, in God’s name saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”

Come, ask the infidel what boon he brings us,
What charm for aching hearts he can reveal,
Sweet is that heavenly promise Hope sings us
“Earth has no sorrow that God cannot heal.”


I have transposed the song into the key of C for easier playing. You may still find the introduction difficult to play.  If so, just leave it out.  It’s not in the original piano music.

If you are a beginner, just play the first verse. It does include a barred F chord. If you are not comfortable with barre chords, you can substitute either a traditional four-string F or a five-string F. It won’t sound bad, but I don’t recommend it, just because this song is such a perfect vehicle for learning to play barre chords. There aren’t many of them, and the tempo is slow and deliberate, allowing plenty of time for the unfamiliar chord change. This barred-E chord shape is the most frequently-used barre chord in just about every kind of music. It provides instant access to other barred chords with the same chord shape. That’s TEN major chords just by moving the barre. Plus, you can easily convert any of these chords to a minor, a seventh, or a minor seventh, just by lifting up a finger or two. That’s ten major chords, ten minor chords, ten seventh chords, and ten minor sevenths, for a total of FORTY new chords, all for the price of learning just one! And THAT’S why serious guitarists all learn to play barre chords.

Look at the chord chart. The index finger is supposed to barre, or fret, all six strings of the guitar, in the space between the nut and the first fret. This spot is properly called “First Position”, but most guitarists call it “the first fret.” Don’t be fooled. You still have to put your finger between the frets, just as you would do if you were only fretting one string. It may be hard to fret all six strings with the side of your index finger at the same time, so that all six sound clearly. Not to worry! Here are some tricks to make it easier:
1. You only have to fret the first two strings (high e, and B) and the last string (low E) with the index finger. The other three strings will be fretted individually by the middle, ring, and little fingers, so don’t worry about those strings yet. Your barring finger will cover them, but you need not get those spots perfectly.
2.  It’s easier to practice barre chords higher up on the neck, where the frets are closer together. Try practicing with the barre at the fifth fret, until you can do the chord well, then move your hand back to First Position.
3.  If the barred strings don’t sound clear, pressing harder probably won’t help. There’s a “sweet spot” on your barring finger where you can fret the necessary strings without much effort. LEARN THAT SWEET SPOT, and barre chords will be easy for you.
4.  Once you’ve found your sweet spot, use the other three fingers to fret the other three strings. They go in exactly the spots where you would play an E chord, if you were using a capo instead of your finger. It will feel a little strange at first, because you are used to using different fingers to fret the E chord. But that’s the only difference.
5.  If it’s still hard for you, try simplifying by playing an Em instead of an E. This actually gives you an Fm chord, which won’t sound right in this song. So, once you can do it, add the middle finger back in where it belongs. As with most guitar problems, lots of practice is the real secret to success.

Intermediate to advanced guitarists:

The second and third verses contain more barre chords and rapid chord changes than the first verse.  The chords should be self-explanatory for regular readers of this blog, except for F*, which is simply a normal F chord, with the C note added on the 5th string in the third space.  You can certainly substitute a full-barre FI chord, if you wish. I use the five-string version to speed up the chord change.

You will probably want to include the intro, which is a slightly modified version of the last line. The only hard part is being fast and accurate in the lengthy slide from 3rd position to 12th.  It may take some practice, but it’s worth it.

That’s it.  Enjoy!

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

I have recast the tempo of this song from 3/4 to 6/8, to make the counting easier. However, this is not to say that it makes the counting easy. The tempo of the original, as written in Hymns, changes a lot and includes triplets in odd places. One of the oddest occurs in measures [7] and [9], where there is a triplet, whose first note is a rest, which is counted as one of the triplet notes, but is not played. If you are familiar with the song, just play it as it normally sounds. If not, you’ll have to count it carefully, until you are familiar with it. Count these “phantom” triplet notes as [blank]-two-three, with the last two notes equally stressed. I have indicated this in the tab by substituting a lower case r (for “rest”) for the unplayed note.

Every line of the song begins and ends with a partial measure, so the first measure only has two counts in it, the last two counts of the partial measure at the end of the last line. I always find this a bit confusing, and usually try to avoid split measures, but could not do so this time without making things worse. Just play it as though the final measure of each line and the first measure of the next line were a single measure. Which, in fact, they are.

This song actually has two verses, when sung. I left out the second verse, to fit the song on a single page, and because this is supposed to be an instrumental solo. If you intend to accompany a singer, just play it through twice. You can even play an extra verse of the tab unaccompanied, as a bridge between the two verses. Enjoy!

Barre chords
More than half the chords in this song are barre chords. If you are already familiar with barre chords, this is a good thing, as they are nearly all just a barred e-shape, or are based on it. If you aren’t completely comfortable with barre chords, this is not the best song for learning them. These barre chords aren’t particularly difficult, but you have to hold them for a relatively long time, while subtly altering them to pick up the melody notes, or even to change chords. You will find this very tiring if you are not used to holding barre chords. That’s why I recommend this song for advanced, or at least for intermediate guitarists.

If you are advanced enough to be playing this arrangement, the first two lines should give you no trouble at all. Just play the tab as written, and the melody will be brought out within the chords as tabbed. In measure [2], you don’t actually have to fret the full barred F chord. A simple, four-string F will do. I left out the chord chart for the four-string F, for simplicity’s sake.

The measures in the last two lines are another story. Remember to strum all chords in the last two lines. I left out the strum markings for clarity. There would be so many of them that they would be more confusing than helpful. Nearly all these chords are played with the barre at the VIII fret (eighth fret). In measures [12] and [17], this requires you to stretch your pinkie up to the twelfth fret. To play the full CVIII chord while doing this, you will have to barre the 4th and 5th strings with the ring finger. Be sure not to buzz on the 3rd string while doing this. If your ring finger will not bend backwards enough to clear the 3rd string, try damping that string, or you can just play the first three strings. It won’t sound as nice as a full barre chord, but the audience won’t notice.

Chord changes
You will have to barre a couple of strings with the pinkie, while holding the main barre with the index finger, when converting the CVIII to an F6, in measures [12] and [17]. Fret them with the edge of the pinkie. You don’t have to press very hard. You can fret the strings, then lift the pinkie without disturbing the rest of the left hand, which holds the CVIII chord throughout the phrase. Play the melody notes in the 10th fret the same way.

There is not much of a change from the GIII in [14] to the G7III in [15]. Your pinkie will already be in the 5th  fret. Just move it to the 6th fret, and you’ve made the change, with no need to disturb the other fingers. Why make things more difficult than they need to be?

The only really difficult chord change comes in measure [19], where you must transition from CVIII to GIII. This requires a fast and accurate change from the 8th fret to the 3rd. Remember to lift your fingers completely off the strings, or you’ll get an ugly string squeal. A fast and accurate change of five frets like this can be difficult to do, but it sets your hand up for the quick transition to the final C/G. To make it easier, I’ve tabbed it with a E on the open 1st string, instead of a full chord. You can play this note with your right hand alone, while moving your left hand from the 8th fret to the 3rd, giving you an extra beat to make the transition. Pros can do a five fret change like this in the blink of an eye without looking, but I try to give myself as much time as possible, and I always look. Hitting the wrong fret, just at the climax of a song, is a great way to spoil an otherwise perfect performance.

Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was a prolific writer of hymns and poems. In his lifetime, he wrote thousands. This one is considered by many to be his best. It has been published in 2629 hymnals! There is an interesting story about its composition:

According to Mrs. Mary Hoover of Bellefonte, PA, her grandmother was involved in the creation of this hymn. Charles Wesley was preaching in the fields of Parish Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland, when his doctrines angered some local men, who attacked him. He sought refuge at a nearby farm, where the farmer’s wife, Jane Lowrie Moore, hid him in the milk house. When a mob arrived in pursuit, she went to the milk house on the pretext of offering them some refreshment, and told Wesley to go out the rear window and hide instead under the hedge, near a little brook. There, he composed the words to this hymn, with the cries of his pursuers all around him.

Mrs. Moore’s descendants still live there, and it is said the house has not changed much since Wesley’s time, according to the Cyber Hymnal website. The hymn has changed since then, however. Originally it had five verses, of which the LDS hymnal includes only the first two: (extra spaces added in the middle of each line to emphasize the internal rhymes).

Jesus, lover of my soul,   let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,   while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,   till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;   O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,   hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,   still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,   all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head   with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call?   Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall —   Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!   While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,   dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want,   more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,   heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name,   I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am;   Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,   grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;   make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,   freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;   rise to all eternity.

Over the years, several musical scores have been written to accompany this hymn. Perhaps the most popular, though not the one used in Hymns, has been a melody and arrangement by Joseph Parry composed in 1879. The melody used in the LDS hymnal is titled “Refuge”, and was composed by Joseph P. Holbrook (1822-1888). I have been unable to locate any verifiable information about him.

God, Our Father, Hear Us Pray-- easy version

Sometimes, making a hard song easy also makes it worse. This is not one of those times. This simpler version sounds just as good, and in some ways even better, though many of the cool chords have been eliminated. In this version, fourteen chords have been reduced to eight, and nine barre chords have been reduced to two or three, depending on how you count. The odd one is B, which is an A-shape barred in the second space, but in this instance, the barre isn’t strictly necessary, since the first string is not played, so the “barring” finger only has to fret one string! But it’s still a barre chord, because that is the easiest way to play it. Go figure!

I’ve done my best to make this version easy to play. Aside from Ddim7, all the chords are common ones you probably already know, and there’s only one form of each chord used. There’s no need for Roman numerals to show you where to put the barre, so I’ve left them out. This doesn’t affect the playing of the song at all, but makes for a much less scary tab.

Try as I might, I haven’t been able to totally eliminate all hard chord changes, but I have been able to make most of them a lot easier. In the second measure, I changed the rising pinches into a slow strum on three open strings. This gives your left hand plenty of time to prepare for the Bm in the next measure. The tenth measure works the same way, preparing for the B chord in the eleventh. I also substituted a D7 for the Edim7 in the sixth measure. The two chords are almost alike, musically, but the D7 is easier to play quickly for those not used to barre chords or diminished sevenths. I also substituted a slide for the hammer-on in the seventh measure, to make it easier to play.

The most obvious difference to the audience comes in the second measure of the third and fourth lines, where I’ve substituted a --1__0-- pull-off on the second string (C to B) the for the --8--7-- melody line on the first string (also C to B, but an octave higher). This avoids the rather quick, long transition from the G chord to the high C note. It’s a much easier transition for the guitarist, but is quite noticeable to any listener who knows the hymn, since the melody line goes down to the C instead of up. There’s just no way to avoid this octave deficit without using some rather unusual and difficult chords. If this really bothers you, and you’re advanced enough, play the original version, which I am not taking down.

I left the high C in for the finale, but used a couple of tricks to make the transition and the return easier. Both have to be done within one measure, so you have to be quick and accurate. To simplify, only strum the three open strings of the G chord. You won’t have to fret the chord at all! You can strum with your right hand, while moving your left hand up the neck of the guitar toward the high C at the same time. It may feel a bit strange to be playing the strings with one hand while doing something completely different with the other, but the strangeness will pass with practice. Getting used to it is much easier than learning to play a long reach with speed and accuracy. Why do it the hard way?

Returning on time to the Bm in the next measure isn’t so easy, but here too, there’s a trick that can help, and it actually improves the sound. You start by sliding the C in the eighth space to the B in the seventh. Leave your finger on the string and continue your hand motion toward the head of the guitar, producing a slurring sound as your finger moves from space to space for a few frets. This gives you about a half a beat headstart on your move toward the Bm in the next measure. It’s still not exactly easy, but should help a bit. That’s why I only use it one time in the song. You can even substitute a D for the Bm, to make it easier still. Make the transition as sloppy as you like. It’s supposed to sound slurred. That’s why it’s called a slur. Slurs actually sound pretty cool, as long as you don’t overuse them.

Right at the very end of the last line, I’ve simplified the broken chord. End with a single note, the  G, and hold it with tremolo, as long as you can. There are two main ways to do this tremolo on an acoustic guitar. You can slide your finger rapidly back and forth along the string, within the space. This method usually works best for tremolos in the fourth and higher spaces. Or, you can vibrate your finger across the string, stretching it slightly each time. This often works best for the first and second spaces. For the third space, where this note falls, the preferred method depends on the guitarist, the guitar, and the strings. Try it both ways, and use the one that sounds more crisp. If you switch guitars, or even put on new strings, the best method may change. On my guitar, high tension strings seem to like the first method best (along the strings), while low tension strings do better with the second method (across the strings).

You may find that the tremolo on the third fret sounds muddy, no matter what you do. Don't despair! There's a work-around. The same, exact note is found on the second string, in the eighth space. If you can move quickly and accurately from the third fret to the eighth, you can do the tremolo there, using the first method, along the string. Because the string is thicker, the quality of the sound may be a little different, but the tremolo will be much, much crisper.

These two versions of the song need not be considered mutually exclusive. They are in the same key, so you can mix and match chords and techniques from one to the other, giving variety from verse to verse. However you play it, it’s a beautiful hymn, and well-suited to the acoustic guitar, either solo or in a duet with a singer. If accompanying a vocalist, the first four of the five instrumental measures at the end of the song make a fine introduction, minus the final, tremolo measure. I’ve indicated this with half-brackets ┌       ┐ above the score, as is done in the hymnal.

God, Our Father, Hear Us Pray

WARNING:  CONTAINS VERY EASY CHORDS  (with scary names.) And lots of barre chords. If you can play barre chords, you should have no trouble.


According to the piano music in the hymnal, this song is a long series of chords, with hardly any melody notes. That sounds good when accompanying choral or congregational singing, but  does not do so well as an instrumental solo. But it’s such a beautiful song, with such a lovely chord progression, that I could not resist it. It did require a bit of arranging for instrumental guitar, and in one case, I had to substitute an F#7 chord for Fdim7, to bring out the melody.

There are lots of “diminished seventh” chords in this song. Don’t let that throw you. They are beautiful, and easy to play. Only the names are scary. And there’s a secret to playing them that you may not know.

THE SECRET: Nearly all diminished seventh chords are played exactly the same way; only the barre position varies. Sometimes, even that does not change. The second chord in the first measure is actually an Fdm7, but it’s played exactly the same as Ddim7. The name is the only difference! That’s right-- the very same chord has two different names. Actually, it has four different names: Ddim7 = Fdim7 = G#dim7 = Bdim7. All four are exactly the same chord, played exactly the same way. All four names are equally correct.

I call them all Ddim7 for simplicity. Change the barre position, and you get other diminished seventh chords, in similar groups of four. There are technical reasons for this. I won’t go into them here, but if you are interested, see the PDF document in The Tabs at right, called “Diminished Seventh Chord Theory”. You’ll learn how, by mastering one easy, four-string chord, you can play five dozen really beautiful chords. Really.

Those dim7 chords probably all should have Roman numerals attached, to show which space the barre goes in. I didn’t do it, because their names would be ridiculously long, and would not fit in the tablature. G#dim7II, for example.

Some chords called for in the piano music have been replaced with single notes or two-note pinches, for playability. In the interest of simplicity, and to avoid confusion, I have left their chord names out of the tab entirely.

There are two different ways of playing A7 in this tab, two ways of playing Bm, and two ways to play D7. All are necessary to bring out the melody. If you just play them one way, the melody  will go down where it’s supposed to go up,. There are also two different ways of playing G. You may find it easier to fret the non-barred G as if you were playing G7, for easier chord changes. The #1 string is not played, so there is no difference between G and G7, so far as the actual notes played are concerned. Use which ever feels easiest to you.


-- At the end of the second measure, you can ease the transition from G to BmII by releasing the G chord early. It won’t matter, as the third pinch is on two open strings. Do the same at the end of the tenth measure, where the transition is from G to BII .

-- The first measure of the second line shows a ligado on the G string, from the 4th fret to the 2nd fret. Normally, this would be played as a pull-off, but if your fingers are short, like mine, you may find it easier to do a push off instead. Whichever way you do it. leave the index finger on the string in the 2nd space, where it will be perfectly positioned for the following D chord.

-- In the first measure of the last line, you will normally use your ring finger to fret the G note on the #1 string. If you leave it on the string, you can easily move it to the second space, to make the pull off, in preparation for the following GIII  chord.

-- Following this chord, there are two notes (C and B) on the #1 string, which are to be played with “strong tremolo”. This is done by rapidly vibrating the fretting finger (probably the ring finger) along the string, while continuing to hold the note. The tremolo will be strongest if performed with the finger closer to the next higher fret, rather than in the middle of the space. If you are playing more than one verse, you may choose to omit the tremolo from the earlier verses, adding it in on the last verse for emphasis.

-- The final three chords require you to go from an Em7 shape to an A7 shape to an E shape, while simultaneously sliding the barre from VII to V to III. Quickly. There is no trick for doing this easily. It’s a hard series to play well, even though the chords individually are not difficult. As in all such situations, the only strategy that works is lots of practice. Sorry, there is no royal road here. It just takes work. However, it’s worth it, as this is a lovely way to end the phrase. You may even wish to repeat the last four measures, slowly, as a finale after the last verse.

-- Since this guitar arrangement is still mostly chords, it works without alteration as a guitar accompaniment for singers, or as a duet with some other instrument. I’d love to hear it done as a duet with a violin. Any violinists out there want to jam?

Historical notes:

Text of the lyrics is by Annie Pinnock Malin, an early Utah pioneer. I have been unable to learn anything about the circumstances under which she wrote this song. Anyone have any information?

The music is from a tune called “Mercy”, by Louis M. Gottschalk, adapted by Edwin P. Parker. Gottschalk was a child prodigy of the piano, born in the USA, but classically trained in Europe, who performed throughout the United States. He left the U.S. after a scandal, and died in Brazil, leaving a large corpus of music. Several of his tunes are well-known hymns, but this is the only one included in the LDS Hymnal, which states that it was “adapted by Edwin P. Parker.

Parker is listed in hymnals of various churches as adapting works by Gottschalk (and other composers), though the names are often misspelled. To further cloud the issue, there are several historical personages of note named Edwin P. Parker, with conflicting birthdates and biographical information. I’m not going to repeat any of them, as I have no way to tell which are true, or even which refer to this-- and not some other-- Edwin P. Parker.

This song is in the public domain.

Lord We Ask Thee Ere We Part

George Manwaring was a self-taught pianist, organist, and poet who emigrated with his family to Utah Territory when he was seventeen.  He was one of more than 1300 Mormon polygamists imprisoned under the infamous Edmonds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882.  He died of pneumonia less than a month after his release in June of 1889, at the age of thirty-five.

During his short life, George Manwaring was a prolific writer of poems and hymns.  Five of them are found in the current (green) edition of Hymns.  Besides this one, he is also credited wth:

Joseph Smith’s First Prayer
Sing We Now at Parting
Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love
We Meet Again in Sabbath School

The music was composed by Ebenezer Beesley, an early conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Twelve of his tunes are currently in the LDS hymnal, including (besides this one):

High on a Mountain Top
What Glorious Scenes Mine Eyes Behold
The Happy Day At Last Has Come
God of Our Fathers, We Come unto Thee
Great Is the Lord
Sing We Now at Parting
Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love
Reverently and Meekly Now
Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words
Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning
We Meet Again in Sabbath School

Beesley was a prolific composer of hymn tunes.  I have been unable to learn any stories about his composition of this one, which is relatively short and simple.

Play the tablature just as written.  There are no special instructions needed.  Strum chords where indicated by a wiggly, vertical line to the left of the chord.  Where there is no such indication, the chords are to be pinched.  Ligados (hammer-ons and pull-offs) are indicated by an underscore between the notes.  The length of the underscores has no significance; it is determined entirely by the need to fit the lyrics in below.  A pull-off that takes up six spaces of type to print is played exactly like one that takes only one space.  Slides are indicated with a back slash between the connected notes.

Musically, the first and fourth verses are identical; only the lyrics differ. They are very easy to play, and use mostly standard chords. The two “non-standard” chords are very simple variations on standard C and G chords. CaddG is formed by adding the G note on the first string, third space, with the left little finger. The non-standard G chord is even easier. Just fret the second string in the third space instead of the first string, and do not play the first string. This chord “inversion” actually contains all the same notes as the normal G chord, but in a slightly different order. Playing G this way emphasizes the D note on the second string, to bring out the melody. You could actually play both these chords as standard C and G chords, but you would lose the melody, to no advantage.

The second and third verses contain the same melody and chord structure, but with different picking patterns, for variety. They are not actually necessary, but the song is so simple, it gets boring hearing all four verses played identically. The third verse has a different time signature. I could have kept it in 4/4, but the counting would have come out, 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & for every measure. Since all the notes in this verse are eighth-notes, I elected to use 8/8 time instead, counting: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 for each measure. The time signature makes no difference in the way the verse is played, just in how it is written.

This hymn is in the Public Domain.

Carnival (from "Black Orpheus")

This is not actually a Gospel song. It is about the hope of finding love. My excuse for publishing it here is that it one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and it has very easy chords. Of the thirteen chords used, nine are two-finger chords, and the rest-- Am, E, Dm, and C-- are super easy chords you probably already know. A few right hand techniques in the second verse are easily mastered with a bit of practice.

The song comes from the movie Black Orpheus, under the tiltle “Manha de Carnaval” (Portugese for "Carnival Morning"). The Portugese lyrics have been translated into many languages, and the song has been published under several titles, including “Mañana de Carnaval”, “A Day in the Life of a Fool”, “Theme from Black Orpheus,” etc. The Guiness Book of World Records lists this song as one of the top ten standards played worldwide. It’s a favorite in both vocal and instrumental versions.

This version includes both. The first verse includes the lyrics as recorded by Perry Como, the most popular Internet lyrics, but I have included alternate words for the last line, from Oscar Brown, Jr.’s cover of the song. The second, instrumental verse includes a right-hand finger-damp common in fingerstyle guitar. It sounds (and looks) complex, but is not actually difficult. Once I figured out the technique, it took me only a couple of hours to master, and I am not a fast learner.

Bossa Nova rhythm

There are three basic parts to this piece: the introduction/refrain, the first verse, which is intended as an accompaniment to a vocalist, and the second verse, which is a long, instrumental solo.  The second refrain, which is also instrumental, is a repeat of the introduction, with the addition of a finale. The three parts are quite different. The introduction/refrain has a different time signature from the rest of the song. It’s in 6/8 time, with each measure divided into two groups of three eighth-notes each. Each group is accented on the first note of the group, and the two accents are equal. This is shown at the top of the first page of the tab as “6/8 parts  =  1 2 3 4 5 6".

A rhythm in which beats or stresses are placed where they wouldn’t normally occur is said to be syncopated. There is no actual syncopation in these measures, but the music sounds syncopated because the melody begins with a partial measure, consisting of two unaccented eighth-notes, like this:   5 6 / 1 2 3 4 5 6 / 1 2 3 4 5 6 etc.

The verses, on the other hand, are indeed syncopated. They are in 8/8 tempo, which is normally counted  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, with minor accents (not shown) on beats 3 and 7. In Bossa Nova rhythm, the accents are placed differently: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. There are three major accented beats, instead of the usual two, and no minor accents. This approximates the rhythm of the phrase, “I like my pa-stra-mi.” If you say that phrase, you may notice that the last two syllables are held longer than any of the others. That’s the basic rhythm of the song, and with few exceptions, all the 8/8 measures contain beats on those notes. The only exceptions are measures in which there is a pause on the fifth note of the measure, which is a kind of “backhand” way of stressing that note. But hey, it’s jazz, right?

Study guide

The whole introduction is played based on the Am chord, lifting the left index finger, replacing it, or fretting the 2nd string in the 3rd space as needed. It’s actually very easy, even played at speed. That’s a good thing, because the tempo is FAST and steady, except for the hold. This riff is repeated twice later in the song, but is played exactly the same all three times, except for the tremolos, which we’ll cover later.

In between measures [4] and [5], you switch to 8/8 time, and pick up the pattern pick, which continues throughout the first verse. The pattern consists of a bass note, followed by two pinched chords plucked with the index, middle and ring fingers of the right hand, then another chord which is sometimes pinched, but more often is played as a broken chord, using the same fingers. If you can play one of these measures, you can play them all. The basic chord progression is Am - Dm6 - E7, all drop-dead easy chords to play. Occasionally there’s a G7, a C, or a Dm-- no big deal.

A7 is a fairly common chord, but there are several ways to play it, and only one will work in measure [14]. It’s fretted by barring the first four strings in the 2nd space, while fretting the first string in the 3rd space.  The easiest way to do this is to do the barre with the index finger, while fretting the first string with the ring finger. You have to do something with the middle finger, so most guitarists place it on top of the barring finger, which helps to make the barre. Having done this, all you have to do to make the Amaj6 chord is lift up the ring finger. Nearly every time you play A7, you’re going to follow it with Amaj6, so you might as well get used to it.

In [18], there’s a Cmaj7 chord made by just lifting up the left index finger.  Easy, but it sounds really nice.  Then you return to the basic chord progression again, until you reach another A7 in [27]. This time it’s followed by a strange chord called C9. This is basically like the A7, except instead of just playing the first string with the ring finger, lay it across the first three strings. This is actually easier to do than it looks, and the harmony it produces isn’t much different from A7, but don’t leave it out. The close harmonies in the chord progression are what gives it its amazing beauty. Then, just as before, you’ll follow with the Amaj6, but instead of going to Dm6, you play a straight Dm for two verses, then the Dm6. This mini-chord sequence of A7 - C9 - Dm - Dm6 lasts only five measures, but will be one of the most musically memorable parts of the song. It gives you a chance to shine, even while the vocalist has “center stage”. If you are the vocalist, it will be absolutely mind-blowing for the audience, even if they are not musicians. They won’t know why it sounds so cool, but they certainly will know that it does.

Measures [36] and [37] depart from the previous pattern in two ways: you’ll play an E instead of an E7, and the pattern pick ceases, being replaced by a strummed chords, even eliminating the broken chord entirely in [37].  The last two notes of [37] lead into a repition of the refrain, taking the place of the partial measure that began the introduction. This refrain is exactly the same as the intro, except for the two tremolos. They are not played the same. The first tremolo note is played by vibrating the index fingertip at right angles to the second string while fretting the string normally. To do this, you have to bend and release the index finger rapidly, alternately stretching the string sideways. Do not actually release the string. It must remain in contact with the fretboard at all times, or you will get separate notes instead of a tremolo.

The second tremolo is done by vibrating the ring finger along the 2nd string in the 3rd space. To produce a strong tremolo, you will need to release all the other fingers from their strings and press the 2nd string into the fretboard quite hard. The best way I know to do this is to stiffen the ring finger and move the whole hand back and forth along the string. You could make the first tremolo this way too, but for frets below the 3rd, across the string works best, while above the 3rd, along the string works best. At the 3rd fret, it’s your choice. On my guitars, it sounds better as I’ve described. However you do it, make the first tremolo brief, but emphasize the second one by lengthening it into a hold.

Measure [42] begins the second verse, which is played quite differently, because there is no vocalist to carry the melody. This is where you get to SHINE.

This verse includes a right-hand finger-damp common in fingerstyle playing. Strum a chord, then tap some of the strings with the fingers of the right hand. The strings to be damped are noted with stars in front of the notes, like this: --*2--.  If you tap too hard, you will hammer-on instead of damping. If you tap too gently, you will just mute the strings, without making the damping sound. The trick is to almost miss the strings. As the fingers slide between the strings, the finger tips contact the fretboard, making a slight thump, while the sides of the fingers damp the strings simultaneously. The little finger can be allowed to tap on the guitar top at the same time, if desired. It is not hard to learn; it just requires practice. Whatever you do, don’t just mute the strings. You need to make a sound here, or it’ll mess up the rhythm. If you can’t do the damp, pluck the strings instead. It won’t sound as cool, but at least the rhythm will be right.

The rhythm of the second verse appears slightly different from the first. Where the first verse has three or four notes in the broken chords, the second has two or three, sometimes leaving out the broken chords altogether, or replacing them with a multiple hammer-on riff. Don’t let it throw you! The Bossa Nova rhythm remains the same, with the accents in the same place. Or, to put it another way, if a note appears in the 1,5, or 7 spot, accent it; if not, don’t let it bother you.

This verse uses both strummed and pinched chords. Please strum the marked chords and pluck the rest. The strings sound very different when plucked. If you wish, you can emphasize the difference by strumming near the center of the strings, and plucking closer to the bridge, for a twangy effect.

The chord progression in the second verse is nearly identical to the first, except that the Cmaj7 in [18] has been replaced with Am in [54]. The refrain at the end of the second verse, in [73], [74], and [75] is played exactly like the previous refrain in [38], [39], and [40]. The only difference is the finale on the end of it.

Play the finale slow, stretching out the chords. The last chord gives you a choice. The easy way to play it is to simply slide the hand one fret up the guitar neck from C#9 to D9. This is a beautiful chord, and a dead easy transition, but it only uses four strings, a bit “thin” to resolve the whole song. You may wish to substitute Amv. It’s very similar, though not quite as pretty, but does use all six strings.  After playing it both ways for an hour on three separate occasions, I still don’t know which I like best; please yourself.

Which ever you use, include the whole-chord tremolo. Strum the chord normally, then cup the right hand and vibrate it over the sound hole, about an inch away from the strings, exactly as if  using an invisible whammy bar. This makes a distinct “wah-wah-wah-wah” sound, similar to that  produced by a real whammy bar. In fact, the whammy bar was invented to compensate for a solid body guitar’s lack of a sound hole, and was originally meant to imitate this sound. You may get better results by vibrating the hand toward and away from the guitar directly over the sound hole, or by moving the hand parallel to the guitar top, covering and uncovering the sound hole. There will be a particular vibration speed that works best for your guitar.

Which ever way you do it, your audience will think you are a fretboard master-- and they’ll be right! Prepare for thunderous applause.