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The Joy and the Song-- English version of a Spanish translation

“The Joy and the Song” is available in the Spanish language hymnal Himnos, but not in the English language hymnal. The original hymn, with English words, is from a songbook called Zion’s Praises (1st Edition, 1903), copyrighted by The Re-Organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is known today as The Community of Christ. This church was formed by Latter-Day Saints who stayed in Nauvoo, and did not take part in the exodus to the west.  Emma Smith, wife of the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., was a founding member of the church, and Joseph Smith III, son of Emma and Joseph, was its first president. Zion’s Praises was their hymnal from 1903 to 1933.

It was amazingly hard to find the original hymn online. The original hymn, with English words, was written in the key of Bb,which is nearly impossible to play on the guitar without using a capo. The Spanish version, as found in Himnos, has been somewhat re-arranged and transposed into the key of G, which is perfect for the guitar. If you are unfamiliar with it, and would like to hear the song, you’ll need to open it on your tablet or phone, as the laptop/desktop version doesn’t have a player function. The tablet/phone version does. Go figure! Because it’s only the Spanish version that’s readily available, I’m including the Spanish lyrics and title, as well as the original English lyrics and title.

I’m also including a Spanish language version of this tab & post, under the Spanish title “A Dios ofrecemos gozosa canción”.  Apart from the preferred language of the lyrics, the only difference between the two is that the Spanish one follows the “sol-fa” format of chord naming: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti (or si in some countries), instead of C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.  In English, this system is sometimes called solmization. A discussion of this format, with equivalency charts, can be found in the entry “Chord Theory” in The Tabs section of this blog.

Actually playing this song is easy. There are no hard chords or transitions. There are hammer-ons, and pull-offs, shown by underscores between the notes, and slides, shown by slashes between the notes: forward slashes indicate a rising tone, backslashes indicate a falling tone. Where it is necessary, or even helpful, to change the left hand position to Second Position, or back to First Position, I have placed Roman numerals above the staff. First Position means you fret the notes in the first space with the index finger, those in the second space with the middle finger, and those in the third space with the ring finger. Second Position means you slide the left hand “up” the neck of the guitar (toward the bridge) one fret, so the notes in the second space are fretted with the index finger, those in the third space with the middle finger, and those in the fourth space with the ring finger.

There are two kinds of chords called out in the tab. Pinched chords are played by plucking the bass note of the chord with the right thumb, and the other notes with the appropriate fingers. In this song, all chords not otherwise marked are to be pinched. Chords that are to be strummed are marked with a wiggly, vertical line to the right of the notes to be strummed. For those not familiar with the song, I’ve included counting numbers below the lyrics.

It’s a pretty song, well-beloved by our Latin brothers and sisters. The lyrics are as close to a perfect translation of the original English lyrics as it’s possible to get. I don’t know why it’s not in the English language edition of the hymnal.

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