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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.