Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Article excerpt

"Come, All Ye Faithful" is a widely known hymn, with lyrics commonly sung in both English and Latin (and sometimes referred to by its Latin name, "Adeste Fideles"). Its words and melody are commonly attributed to an 18th-century English hymnist named John Francis Wade.

This solo-guitar arrangement moves twice through the song's simple verse/chorus form, set in the key of E major. The first verse features contrapuntal motion with inner lines moving under the melody. While the majority of the harmonies in both verses are diatonic chords in E major, there are also several non-diatonic passing chords that offer additional color and texture to the melody. This arrangement was created with a cappella vocal groups like Singers Unlimited and Take 6 in mind, because they are known for singing unembellished melodies with lots of colorful, chromatic harmonies below.

The chorus begins in measure 13, with the melody harmonized in sixths over a low open-E pedal for four measures. Starting on beat three of measure 16, the melody begins appearing as the top notes in a series of harmonized block chord voicings, working up to measures 20 and 21, where a two-bar interlude sets up the second verse. Pluck each quarter-note block chord voicing evenly with the thumb and fingers of the picking hand, making sure to emphasize the top melody note of the voicing.

The second verse is similar in texture to the first, but with some different chord changes for variety. Most of these are four-note chord voicings that should be played with the picking-hand thumb plus index, middle, and ring fingers. …

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