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We will be adding more tablature arrangements regularly... please visit again.


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O Sing a Song of Bethlehem



Music: KINGSFOLD C.M.D. - Trad. English
Lyrics: Louis F. Benson, 1889
Arr: Elizabeth DiPietri, 2009 


This month’s tune is quite a versatile one. It is a folk tune which was used by minstrels wandering around merry old England, singing for anyone who would give them food, shelter, money. In the early 20th century, Ralph Vaughan Williams was in England collecting tunes; this was one that he brought home with him and arranged for use in church hymnals. The hymn used with it in the 1906 The English Hymnal was one called “Dives and Lazarus”, based on the story in Luke 16:19–30 about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. If you are interested, you can find these lyrics at: 




The metrical pattern for this tune is C.M.D. – or common meter double.  In the back of many hymnals you will find a metrical index of tunes, listing all the tunes with that meter. A quick search of a couple of books gave me 16 different hymns.  We chose one of the most popular texts to use this month, ”O Sing a Song of Bethlehem” by Louis F. Benson. It speaks of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee and Calvary. Some of the other texts are: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” by Edmund H. Sears, “There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood” by William Cowper, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” by Isaac Watts, “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” by Jenette Threlfall, and… Surprise! last month’s offering - “America, the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates.


Once you have learned it well enough to sing with it, get out a hymnbook and see how many other sets of lyrics you can find to use with this lovely tune. And as always… enjoy.




Playing notes: As with many of our arrangements, this tune sounds lovely when fingerpicked. Measure 5 calls for a 1+ (1½) fret in the first chord; however, the 1+ is in parentheses, meaning it is optional. If you do not have a 1+ fret on your dulcimer, just do a 2-note “pinch chord” by plucking the two outside strings only. The small “p” on the next note indicates a pull-off from 1 to 0 on the bass string.


  Your 135 Team



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...and this one: amazing woman plays it on handbells as a solo.




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If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

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