Words: Phillip Brooks... more
Original Published Key: F Major (1 flat - B♭)
Performance: Sarah McLachlan Born Sarah Ann McLachlan on January 28, 1968 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Key Signature: C Major Time Signature: 4/4
Tempo: ~ 92 bpm
Song Chords: C, F, G, G7, A7, Am, Dm, C/A, Csus2... charts below
|C: x32010 / 332010||G: 320003||G7: 320001|
|F: xx3211 / x33211||F: 133211 (B)||F (alt): x332xx|
|A7: x02020||Am: x02210||Dm: x00231|
|A7 (alt): x02223||C/A: x02010||Csus2: x3001x|
Chords and Lyrics
- Degree of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate depending how you play it.
- Song Key: C Major - no sharps or flats
- Tempo: approx 92 bpm (♩)... If you are using a metronome or click track, the beat sounds on every quarter-note/crotchet.
Sarah plays the song beautifully in a fingerpicking style that utilizes a lot of interesting chord shapes and extra notes which compliment this excellent presentation. I have simplified the song as much as possible so that everyone can play along. There are a couple of things you might like to try...
When she plays the last bar of lines 1, 2 and 4 of each verse | C F C / |, she slides up to the F from the C chord by playing the F chord the same shape as an open E chord except up 1 fret. This is fine as long as you don't play strings 1,2 and 6... see chart. Play it whichever way feels the most comfortable for you. This lends itself to finger-picking as opposed to strumming, as you are more likely to hit the 'x' marked strings when strumming this particular chord.
At the end of the song, she plays a Csus2 (x3001x) on the 3rd beat of the last bar and hammers (h) finger 2 onto the 4th string 2nd fret to finish on the C chord (x32010) on the 4th beat of the bar. You can just play a C chord if you prefer, but it does add a nice touch... just remember to play the Csus2 on the 3rd beat and hammer on the 4th beat to finish... don't strum on the 4th beat as the hammer-on takes the place of a strum or pick. If you listen carefully, you will hear this.
h (hammer-on): bring your finger down sharply on a string to make it sound.
The C/A chord is simply a C chord leading with an A bass note... x02010. We give up the leading C bass note and replace it with an A (open 5th string). We still have all the notes in the C chord with the C note played 1 octave higher on the 2nd string - first fret.
The repeat sign or simile mark / means you repeat the previous chord or note in the bar, therefore | C F C / | means 1 beat on C, 1 beat on F and 2 beats on C.
When you see a written chord, e.g., x32010, each space or segment (6 in total), represents each guitar string starting with the lowest string EADGBe. Each number represents the fret played and the letter 'x' means you don't play that string, therefore in this example of an open C chord, x32010
- E String: x - don't play string (bottom E - fattest string)
- A String: 3rd fret
- D String: 2nd fret
- G String: play open string
- B String: 1st fret
- e String : play open string (top E - thinnest string)
There are various other ways to play Csus2 (1-2-5 / C-D-G). I have chosen the easiest variation that sit well within the song. Other variations include:
- Csus2: x30033
- Csus2: x30013
Further help with reading song charts on this site.
You don't have to play all the extras, and if you find the C/A or Csus2 chords a little confusing, just play the C chord... it still sounds fine.
You can find another version of the song in the key of G Major on the Christmas Carols Page.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.
For Christ is born of Mary,
And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!