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I know that many of you are called upon to play hymns on the guitar and the hymns were not really written for our instrument. The arrangements in the hymnal do not have chords and many of the hymn
arrangements are in hard to play keys with chord changes every measure. One way that I have been successful at playing the hymns on guitar is to make the arrangement guitar friendly by playing them in the best keys for the guitar like C, G, or D. Next, I simplify the hymn by dropping all the chords that are not necessary. Many of the hymns can be played with 3-4 simple chords.
Here is my 1st secret…..
Take the hymnal to a copy machine and make a copy of the hymnal arrangement. Blow it up as much as you can to get it as big as you can on a single page.
Then, find the best key for you to sing the hymn. Try to stick with G and D and maybe the key of C. Use your capo if you need to.
Next, sing the hymn while playing the most basic progression and take a marker or a sharpie and write in the chord changes on the hymnal sheet. You are not going to be reading the music! You are going to focus on the simple guitar accompaniment.
If you are playing with a piano player and are forced to play in the same key that it is written for example Eb or Bb. (those are unfrinedly guitar keys) Then you need to pick a good guitar key and devise a capo plan. In no case do I suggest playing in the keys of Eb or Bb on the guitar. Avoid it.
Now you have a hymn chart with all of the correct words and an easy guitar chord arrangement.
The new 8chords100song Songbook contains many of the popular hymns with easy chords in the keys of G or D. This is also a great way to play the hymns if you are not comfortable yet with writing in your own chords. Get the songbook today!
Keep an eye on the blog and the store for more resources for learning to write your own chord charts in the hymnal! It does not have to be hard!