What would it have been like to be a Mormon Pioneer leaving Nauvoo without knowing where you were going or even if you would survive? All you had was your family and your faith. That is the inspiration behind this arrangement.
Apparently, there are only six hymns in our hymnbook today that were in the original hymnbook that Emma Smith put together. And out of those, Redeemer of Israel is the only one that still uses its original melody. So it is quite possible that Redeemer of Israel as we know it today was sung by the Saints as they were crossing the plains.
Now couple that with the fact that Redeemer of Israel is one of the most powerful hymns in the hymnbook. It’s one of those hymns where every passing verse builds your faith, commitment and excitement. It’s like a roller coaster of emotion. If I were a pioneer, I would have been singing this every step of the way in order to keep pushing me forward.
So with that, here’s the breakdown of the arrangement:
The hymn opens as the saints are leaving Nauvoo, watching it fade away behind them. Now they are just slowly moving along, pleading with the Lord to bless them (On whom for a blessing we call). Then with every verse, their faith is strengthened and their pace quickens. So does the music. The music continues to build in volume and speed with each passing verse until it finally explodes into the last verse, almost shouting with conviction:
As children of Zion,
Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near.
Did they have steel-string guitars back then? No. But if they did, I hope it would have sounded a lot like this.
Special thanks to a couple of people for this arrangement. First, Britany Hurst for being the first Mormon Guitar fan to choose the hymn. Her hymn was randomly picked from nearly 100 listener suggestions. Thanks Britany! You picked a great one. (And as a side note, I drew another hymn out of the hat after hers just to see what else could have been. I drew Redeemer of Israel. Again.)
Also, a special thank you to Dan Rasband. Dan is the one who told me about the history behind the hymn. His Stake is doing a Pioneer Trek this summer and had picked this hymn as their main theme hymn for the trek. This arrangement probably would not have gone in this direction if it hadn’t been for his comments. (You see, I actually do listen to people’s comments and try to use them if possible. So keep them coming!)
Thanks again to everyone for your continued support of this site. It’s humbling. I feel truly blessed to be able to share the experience of arranging a new hymn with you each month. You guys are neat.
BrentPosted at 15:18h, 01 January
Get Dudley to lay these tracks down. I am ready to buy.
Ben HowingtonPosted at 15:41h, 01 January
Heading out there this spring. At least that’s the plan.
JacPosted at 05:20h, 02 January
Dan RasbandPosted at 03:36h, 02 January
Ben, you rock! What can I say more?! I love the change-up from some of your other arrangements, and I love the picking. Pretty intimidating for a newbie like me to consider being able to play this on Trek in 7 months, but I’ll start working on it right away. As I’ve said before, thank you for sharing your tremendous talent!
Jordan AllenPosted at 04:17h, 02 January
Fantastic! A fun change of pace (literally). I now hear this song in a whole new light thanks to your interpretation. Again, well done!!! ~JA
Stephanie FifePosted at 10:08h, 03 January
Love it! Thank you!
Randall WhittedPosted at 08:18h, 04 January
Just want to say, before you get inundated from the Deseret News story, how much I love what you’ve done here! I’ve always wanted to do the same myself, but lack the talent, drive, etc. Thanks so much! Sweet Martin, too. Would you mind sharing your recording setup?
Ben HowingtonPosted at 03:53h, 06 January
Thanks, Randall! Recording setup is pretty simple. I use an Audix CX-111 condenser mic going into an Apogee Duet, with Logic Pro X as the DAW. I upgraded to the Apogee with “I hope they call me on a mission” video. Before that, I was using a PreSonus AudioBox USB.
The mic is set between 12-18″ away from the guitar and is pointed at where the neck meets the body, around the 14th fret. Since I’m using it for video, the mic is set a little lower, just off screen, and pointed up at the 14th fret.
Hope that helps!
Teran PetersonPosted at 14:20h, 13 January
These arrangements are great! Super fun to play. I was wondering what program you use to write out the MoTAB. I have played with the trial version of a few programs like Guitar Pro 6 and TablEdit. Do you have any recommendations on what I should use?
Ben HowingtonPosted at 18:07h, 13 January
I use Guitar Pro 6. I think it’s the best for the money. It has some limitations, but for the most part it does the job. I’ll usually open up the exported PDF in Adobe illustrator to make whatever tweaks I need to. Generally it’s just changing the placement of any intro text or funky instructions, along with adding the logo to the footer on the last page. It took me a little while to do the first arrangement, but after that they get faster with each one. Whatever you use, I think you’re best served just sticking to one and learning it really well, rather than bouncing around trying all of them, of which I have been the poster child in days gone by.
Samuel EllisPosted at 09:59h, 28 January
I just found your website through a friend’s Facebook post. You have no idea how long I’ve been looking for something like your website. I just burst into tears listening to your version of Redeemer of Israel, I think you hit the nail on the head with your version and the history of it. Thanks for posting the tabs so we can learn and share your music, can’t think of a better way to use the internet. Next time I’m in Utah I’m buying you lunch.
Ben HowingtonPosted at 16:44h, 28 January
Thanks! I really appreciate that feedback. It means a lot. I’m also in North Carolina, BTW. :)
Pamela SmithPosted at 07:51h, 02 February
Ben, I’m home sick today and missing testimony meeting, but not missing any of the Spirit after listening to you play. THANK YOU. I’ve always known there is room for the brilliant and inspiring acoustic guitar in our worship services (but have only heard it once, years ago, in Chicago). Yours is a masterful rendition of the hymn. Thank you for sharing your talents.
DavidPosted at 14:12h, 02 February
Can’t wait for the MoTab!!! This is absolutely wonderful. Thanks, Ben!
Elder RasmussenPosted at 20:40h, 02 February
Amazing! Thanks for helping a missionary in the Philippines
Jared G.Posted at 05:20h, 29 June
Where did you get the 5 string capo? I love your songs by the way, keep them coming!
Ben HowingtonPosted at 15:32h, 29 June
Thanks Jared! It’s just a regular capo flipped upside down that I position so it isn’t clamping the low E. I use a Shubb, but any clamp capo will work.
MackCamachoPosted at 14:59h, 17 October
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