In 1984, Steve Baughman was putting himself through college, working as a security guard in an old folks’ home, when he heard one of the residents play “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” on the piano. Baughman was struck by the bombastic quality of this old Charles Wesley hymn, which he captures nicely in his arrangement for solo guitar.
The guitarist plays the piece in the key of D major in DADGAD tuning, giving him plenty of opportunities to use the open strings. Nonetheless, his arrangement, with its active bass line and unconventional chord shapes, demands a lot from the fretting hand.
The good news is that Baughman’s interpretation can be streamlined—especially in the bass line—to make it easier to play. For instance, you might eliminate the notes played on the “ands” of certain beats, like the open A string on beat 2.5 in bar 1 and the fifth-fret G on 4.5 in that same measure.
Whether you play the arrangement as written or with fewer notes, it’s best to use a metronome and start slowly, gradually increasing the tempo as you get the fretting-hand moves in your muscle memory. Keep at it until you can run the tune flawlessly—and most important, animatedly—at tempo.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine. The music for “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” is only available in the print edition.
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