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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.

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