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.
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