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 lds.org’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  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 , all the chords are quite standard for any intermediate guitarist. Even the G7addD chord in  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 , 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 . 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  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 . 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?
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