Be Thou My Vision

Hi! It's great to be back as a columnist for Guitar Nine. I hope that you enjoyed my presentation in the April/May 2002 edition of Guitar Nine entitled, "The Star of the County Down." This time around I have arranged another piece for solo fingerstyle guitar originating from Ireland, entitled, "Be Thou My Vision." Without going into a lengthy dissertation about the piece, it is an Irish hymn with words dating back to the 8th century. For those of you who love history, this piece certainly has an interesting story behind it that might be worth looking into. Technically, the arrangement is straight-forward and should lie comfortably under your fingers once properly learned. Remember, the general rule is that thumb plays strings 6, 5, 4, and index plays 3rd string, middle plays 2nd, ring plays 1st. Looking at the music itself, you may not know that I have arranged the piece in chorale style. There are several reasons for this:

  1. To give the player a nice left hand workout (ex. measure 9).
  2. To teach the student to look for fingers that are common from one chord to another (ex. measure 5). I always tell my private students never lift a finger unless absolutely necessary.
  3. To develop a legato, or a smooth and connected style of playing.
  4. To give the student a nice piece to play, maybe during an offertory at church.


In conclusion, above everything else I've discussed, have fun learning and playing. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me. I hope to see you soon with a nice arrangement for the holiday season. Take care!

Steve Pappas is a guitarist, composer and teacher from Ohio specializing in fingerstyle guitar who believes in daily practice, and expressing emotions and feelings through his playing.

His latest CD is entitled "Refuge", a blend of Folk, Spanish, Classical, Latin and Rock influences.

Steve Pappas