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It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Words:  Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876
Music:  Richard Starrs Willis, 1819-1900
Tuning:  D-F#-A for diatonic dulcimer
Arrangement:  Ruth Randle

The words for this American carol are based on a poem written by Unitarian minister Dr. Edmund Sears in 1849. The following year, inspired by the poem, Richard Storrs Willis, a composer as well as editor and critic for the New York Tribune, wrote a melody called "Carol" to which the words were adapted.


The reason 1-3-5 excels in this song is by offering the use of "color chords" like:
1)  In measure 6, you use a 1/1/3 chord for harmony. That note on the middle string is a G#, available in a D major at that location only with a 1-3-5 tuning. Incidentally, that chord is E/G#/D, an E7.
2)  In measure 18 you use an F# chord...beautiful, but impossible in D major, since it requires the A# on the middle string.
3)  Finally, in measure 23 is another E chord (1/1/1) needing that G#.

This tablature is available in the following formats:


.TEF TablEdit



Printable Webpage


.JPG Format (be sure to set your printer to "fit to page")


Midi File


Mountain Dulcimer tablature arrangement by Ruth Randle 10/2003

TablEdit by John Sackenheim

  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

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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Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.


At this time we will be using the .MIDI music files produced by TablEdit..





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