Hymns for Classical Guitar – Free Sheet Music and TABs

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Hymns are religious songs and have appeared throughout human history.

Ancient texts of hymns have been found in Egypt, Greece, and India. The word “hymn” comes from the Greek word “Hymnos” which translates to “a song of praise”. So hymns are a significant part of religious events. And we also hear hymns played at weddings, funerals, and ceremonies. Nowadays, this can sometimes be more of a tradition than a demonstration of faithfulness.

Hymns have taken different forms throughout their musical development. Usually, there is a simple melody that accompanies a religious text. The music is easy to follow, and allows people to join together and sing songs of praise.

Very often, people experience hymns in school or church for the first time when a child. These songs then become part of their musical repertoire for life.

Other times, hymns can be complex and difficult, requiring musical training. Often these are written for a skilled choir to sing, while those in the congregation listen.

Many composers have written or arranged hymns. Antonio Vivaldi and J.S. Bach are well-known examples of composers who often worked for the church. They often arranged or composed pieces for Sundays and special events. Other religious figures who wrote hymns include Martin Luther, Isaac Watts, and William Cowper.

As music moved away from the church, hymns would become secular. Well-known melodies would serve as themes for pieces – which themselves became famous. Handel wrote the “Messiah” using biblical texts. And Ludwig van Beethoven used the famous “Ode to Joy” hymn for his 9th symphony. Likewise, the lyrics for “Ave Maria” have been famously added to a piece by Franz Schubert.

Hymns have also been closely associated with various political or social struggles. In times of challenge, hymns often offer encouragement. They can provide a connection to a larger group of people. And they can reaffirm one’s faith and commitments. The hymn “Amazing Grace” for instance, is equally at home in religious or secular settings. Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” was an adaptation of “If My Jesus Wills”.

When hymns are sung in these circumstances, they are very often accompanied by a guitar rather than the more traditional organ or piano. Because they have strong melodies, hymns are particularly good for strumming simple chords while we sing.

Many pop singers in the 1960s and ’70s sang hymns, or songs based on hymns. Think Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day”. And Laurie London’s “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Christian-themed songs were also hits for country singers. (Alan Jackson, “The Old Rugged Cross”.)

Unlike the “Old Rugged Cross,” many of these more modern songs contain lyrics that are not overtly religious. Instead, they contain similar themes such as trust, kindness, light, and the human soul.

Many hymns have been arranged for classical guitar, where we can play the melody and accompaniment without singing.

Here you can find classical guitar arrangements of some of the most loved hymns. “Amazing Grace”, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, “Merciful Saviour”, and “Christ, the Lord Has Risen” are popular in the genre.

Feel free to download, print, and share. If you have any suggestions on this library of guitar hymns, please drop a line and tell us.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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