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"Silent Night" Chords (Easy Guitar Christmas Song Arrangements)

As a guitar instructor at Long & McQuade, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops.

"Silent Night"

"Silent Night"

Learn to play this traditional Christmas carol in a variety of arrangements.

In This Article

  1. Strumming Pattern
  2. The Melody
  3. Guitar Duet Arrangement
  4. Harmony Melody
  5. Solo Fingerstyle Arrangement
  6. Lyrics in English

Strumming Pattern

The song is usually played at a very slow tempo. I have employed downstrokes for the entire piece. Let the chords ring together—do not play them in staccato style. You are aiming for a very even, flowing sound.

Time Signature

The time signature is 3/4. Many holiday tunes are written in this time signature, commonly called "waltz time."

christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
Strumming Pattern

Strumming Pattern

The Melody

The melody line is in the key of D Major, the parent key for the entire song. There are two sharps in the key: F♯ and C♯. This means that every time these notes are played they will be one fret higher than the natural note.

On guitar, sharp always translates to one fret higher (towards the sound hole, or body of the guitar). I have seen many students get this wrong: Up the fretboard (higher) is always towards the body because the notes are higher in pitch, while down the fretboard (lower) is always towards the headstock (tuning pegs).

The transcription contains many dotted notes. The dot adds half the value of the note it is attached to. For example, a dotted half note is a half note plus a quarter note (three beats).

christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
Melody

Melody

Guitar Duet Arrangement

This is a guitar duet arrangement. There is a 2 measure rhythm guitar intro before the melody starts.

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christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
Rhythm and Melody for a Guitar Duet

Rhythm and Melody for a Guitar Duet

Harmony Melody

This melody line fits perfectly with the normal pitched melody above. If you play this as a stand-alone piece, it will sound different from the normal melody.

Harmonies follow the melody, but are voiced as different notes—usually a third or fifth interval. These notes are related to the chords being played. In the easiest example, if the chords are major, the interval would be a major. If the chord is minor, the interval would be a minor.

A vocalist with a good ear can usually sing a harmony with no preparation. The lead vocalist would simply ask for a harmony a third above or below, and the accompanist would sing the notes.

christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
Harmony Melody

Harmony Melody

Solo Fingerstyle Arrangement

This is a beginner to intermediate level fingerpicking arrangement of this Christmas classic. Most of the chords are common open shapes, although some voicings will have you moving around the fretboard and may prove quite difficult.

With most chord melody arrangements, other inversions of the chords must be used to keep the melody in the same octave. I use my thumb, index, middle and ring fingers for the entire piece.

Some of the arpeggios have five notes. The pinky can be employed to catch the high note, or the thumb can play the two lowest notes. I play the two highest notes of the arpeggios with my ring finger.

Tempo

Play this at a slow tempo, around 60 bpm. It gives the tune the dreamy quality it needs. The time signature is 3/4. Three beats to a measure and the quarter note gets one beat.

You can also perform this as free time—that is, there is no tempo. You are free to slow down (usually in quieter passages) and speed up (normally in louder parts). The dynamics and tempo are up to the performer.

Whatever you choose, try to remember to add the dynamics. This will greatly enhance your feel for the song and the listener’s as well. This transcription has been transposed to the key of A Major.

christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
christmas-holiday-guitar-music-silent-night-chords-melody-fingerpicking-strumming-pattern
Fingerpicking Arrangement

Fingerpicking Arrangement

"Silent Night" Lyrics in English

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child!
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!

Further Reading

© 2014 Lorne Hemmerling

Comments

Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Prescott on December 13, 2015:

Happy you enjoyed it, my friend. Thanks so much for the comment!

Maurício on December 13, 2015:

I've learned! It's great!

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