Christmas Clawhammer Banjo

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was first published in 1833 when it appeared in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys.

The lyrics are reputed to date back to the 15th century, and are written in Early Modern English. The author is unknown. The words of the song had different meanings in the time of its writing than in contemporary use; rest meant “keep,” while merry meant “mighty” or “strong”—thus, the title in modern English means “May God keep you gentlemen strong.” It is believed that the song was sung to the gentry by town watchmen who earned additional money during the Christmas season.

Melody:

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Level 3 (Advanced):

Deck the Halls – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

Deck the Hall is a secular Christmas carol. The melody is Welsh and belongs to a winter carol, Nos Galan; the “fa-la-la” refrains were probably originally played on the harp. In the eighteenth century Mozart used the tune to Deck the Hall for a violin and piano duet. J.P. McCaskey is sometimes credited with the lyrics of Deck the Halls but he only edited the Franklin Square Song Collection in which the lyrics were first published.

The English words generally sung today are American in origin and date from the 19th century. Note that some versions use “Deck the Halls” instead of “Deck the Hall,” the more correct title.

Melody:

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Auld Lang Syne – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“Auld Lang Syne” — Eng: “old long since” — might be better translated as “old long ago”, “times gone by”, or “days gone by” is a poem by Robert Burns, and one of the best known songs in English-speaking countries. Yet, perhaps because it was originally written in the Scots language, often people can recall the melody easily but know only a fraction of the words.

It is usually sung each year on New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay in Scotland) in the United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, the United States, Australia, and English speaking Canada at midnight and signifies the start of a new year. Also, in many Burns Clubs, it is sung to end the Burns supper. It is used as a graduation song and a funeral song in Taiwan, symbolizing an end or a goodbye. The latter almost certainly originates in Japan in the Japanese song Hotaru no Hikari (Firefly’s Light) which was explicitly created by the Meiji regime as a graduation song (from which the other uses flowed). In the Philippines, it is well known and sung at celebrations like graduations, New Year and Christmas Day. In Japan, many stores play it to usher customers out at the end of a business day, and the tune is sung at graduations. In the United Kingdom, it is played at the close of the annual Congress (conference) of the Trades Union Congress. Before the composition of Aegukga, the lyrics of Korea’s national anthem was sung to the tune of this song. Also, before 1972, it was the tune for the Gaumii salaam anthem of The Maldives (with the current words). The University of Virginia’s fight song (The Good Old Song) also carries the same tune. In Portugal, Spain and Germany this song is used to mark a farewell, especially in the Boy Scout movement.

It has also been used on other occasions as a farewell. One occasion that falls in this category was in October 2000, when the body of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau left Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the last time, going to Montreal for the state funeral.

This is the melody plus three clawhammer banjo arrangements for Auld Lang Syne.

Melody:

Level 1 (Basic):

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Level 3 (Advanced):

Angels We Have Heard on High – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“Angels We Have Heard on High” is a Christmas carol that is based on a traditional French carol known as Les Anges dans nos Campagnes. Its most common English version was translated in 1862 by James Chadwick.

It is most commonly sung to the hymn tune “Gloria”, as arranged by Edward Shippen Barnes. Its most memorable feature is its chorus:

Gloria in Excelsis Deo! (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”)
where the sung vowel sound “o” of “Gloria” is fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence:

Glo-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-ri-a in Ex-cel-sis De-o!
Gloria in Excelsis Deo is itself the name of an older famous hymn.

The phrase also appears melismatically in the Latin version of the carol “O Come All Ye Faithful”, though somewhat less extended:

Glo-o-o-O-ri-a in Ex-cel-sis De-o.
In the English version of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, that phrase is poetically translated as Glo-ry to Go-od, Glo-ry in the High-est, reducing the melisma to no more than two notes per word.

Below are 4 clawhammer banjo arrangements of the Christmas song, “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The first arrangement is just the melody of the song, and the three arrangements that follow it are all based on the melody.

Using the buttons at the top of each tablature you can enlarge the view.

Here’s the melody…

 

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