Lesson 9: Happy Thanksgiving!  "Hymn of Grateful Praise"

Posted November 21, 2007

The theme of Thanksgiving rings out in the refrain of this hymn:  "Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise."

The fourth Sunday of each month is my week to provide music at St Barnabas Church in Jefferson City, Tennessee.  With banjo and guitar I lead the hymns and play solos as needed to support the service.  The folks there have come to enjoy my banjo renditions of traditional hymns, and the fruits of my arranging will soon be published as a new gospel collection called "Banjos in Heaven?"

For this lesson, I present the banjo break I will use this Sunday on the hymn titled "For the Beauty of the Earth." 

First, we will look at four phrases as exercises which cover most of the challenges in this arrangement.  As I tell my young students: "You don't swallow a Big Mac whole.  You chew it up one bite at a time."  You learn a complex solo best and quickest by mastering one phrase at a time.  The slow audio clips are 80 beats per minute, a comfortable reading speed.  The faster clips are 72 bpm in cut time, almost twice as fast.  This is memorize speed!  No time to figure things out. 

Remember our criterion for acceptable performance on an exercise:  Four times in a row without error.  Anything less, and you are likely to have problems when the phrases are assembled.

OK, here we go...

Exercise 1

First measure is double-thumb roll, always a safe choice for rendering a melody in half and quarter notes.  It switches to a forward roll variation on D7.  Notice the use of 4th string open D to reinforce the chord.  The 3rd string and pinch is back to a G chord. (I forgot to add the symbol)

Audio:   Slow   Faster


Exercise 2

The C to D measure is a nice fingering trick: Since the 3rd string is not picked, the C chord fingering is moved forward to the D position without lifting.  On the second measure, open G to a partial C chord with basic forward pattern.  Note IMTM picking on the C.

Audio:   Slow   Faster


Exercise 3

In the first measure, slides reinforce the open 3rd and 2nd string melody notes.  In the D measure, T on 2nd string hammer gives emphasis to the melody.  The roll uses the open 4th string to anchor the tonality of the D chord.

Audio:   Slow   Faster

Exercise 4

Here the melody pounds away on the open 4th string, but a subtle harmony change is carried by index finger on the 2nd and 3rd strings.

Audio:   Slow   Faster


Solo:  For the Beauty of the Earth

Audio:   Slow   Faster

The band arrangement with vocals will have to wait for the release of "Banjos in Heaven?"  Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I gotta get that turkey in the oven!

On my personal "Thanksgiving List", I sincerely appreciate all my students and visitors to this website who support my work with the banjo.  Without you, I would be only a closet picker. 

Good Luck Pickin'!

Edward T Wing

Pick'n'Grin, Knoxville, Tennessee