Ready for a different kind of arrangement? I hope so.
Right when I saw that this hymn was a contender last month, I got really excited. I instantly knew what I wanted do with it. I’ve been wanting to use the loop pedal again for some time and this song had it written all over it. I was pretty pumped when it won.
Besides knowing that I wanted to use the loop pedal, the main inspiration for the arrangement didn’t come until learning more about the author.
Did you know that this is not a Mormon children’s song? It’s in a lot of hymnals in a lot of religions. The lyrics were written by Fanny Crosby in the 1860’s who called herself a “Primitive Presbyterian”.
She went blind when she was six weeks old after a doctor applied some medicine to her eyes because of some discharge. One blog I read said that her father was distraught afterwards, saying, “What kind of life can a blind girl have? Who will want our precious Fanny?”
To answer his question, here’s the kind of life she had: “Despite becoming blind at six weeks of age, due to a medical malpractice, Fanny Crosby went on to write over 8,000 hymns and was one of the most prolific hymnists in history. Born, Frances Jane Van Alstyne Crosby, in 1820, she was also known as the “Queen of Gospel Song Writers,” and the “Mother of Modern Congregation Singing in America.” She wrote so many hymns that she had to use over 200 different pseudonyms in her career because publishers were reluctant to have too many hymns by one person in their hymnbooks.” Read more over at the real MOTAB blog.
After I read that, the line in the song’s third verse jumped out at me. There’s something all can give.
Being blind in the 1800’s probably wasn’t the easiest. But despite what she couldn’t do, she focused on what she could do. And she did it a lot. 8,000 hymns?! That’s insane. That equals one hymn a day for 22 years.
Fanny Crosby was a talented woman. But she was talented in areas that you and I aren’t. (Assuming none of you are secretly writing a library of hymns at the moment). And we are probably talented in ways that she wasn’t.
But in truth, we are all equally talented. We’re just talented in different areas.
For some it might be music. For others it’s leadership, or kindness, or friendship, or book smarts, or street smarts, or every other possible thing you can imagine.
Heavenly Father knows each of us better than we know ourselves. More importantly, He knows what talents He blessed us with. It’s up to us to find out what those talents are and how to use them.
Take the guitar I’m playing in this one as an example.
That Ovation guitar has been wonderful to play in settings that might not be too kind on the guitar – e.g. campfires, travel, extremely cold temperatures. Basically anytime I didn’t want to risk damaging another guitar, I would use this one. It’s not a diss on the guitar. It’s just that it has a plastic back. It can take it.
Now imagine my surprise when it was the only guitar that gave the sound I was looking for with this arrangement. It’s detuned a whole step but still had good intonation, for the most part. It has a punchiness and low end that I needed for this song that my Martin didn’t have when I tried it on this arrangement. The plastic back also worked perfectly for banging out the bass drum part.
The Martin is my go-to guitar. It’s just an all around high-quality instrument. I never in a million years thought I would choose the Ovation over it for one of these arrangements. But I did.
There’s something all can give.
As for the arrangement, the “Give Away, Give Away” repeated throughout is the little stream. (Apparently streams don’t talk, they chant.) And then it just builds from there.
I tried to draw on some of my 80’s childhood musical inspirations, since that was when I learned this hymn as a kid. Sometimes I can hear some of The Cars in there. Other moments have almost a Cyndi Lauper feel. (Yes, I said Cyndi Lauper. Time After Time is one of my favorite songs from the 80s).
Anyways, my kids seem to like this one. I can’t imagine why.
Believe it or not, this is also the easiest song I’ve done so far. Only three chords. If you’re wondering, the guitar is tuned down a whole step and all I’m playing are E, A and B power chords. That’s it. Oh, and the outro just goes back and forth from E (0-11-9-9-x-x) to A (x-0-11-9-10-x).
Have fun with it. I’ll try to post a lesson video with it next week that will show you how to play this even if you don’t have a loop pedal. But right now I’m in the middle of working on something super cool for the site that is going to take learning these hymns to a whole new level. I think it’s going to be awesome. Well, I hope it’s going to be awesome.
Thanks again for all of the support and for choosing this hymn for me this month. It’s been a fun month. You guys are awesome.