Although presented here as autoharp instruction, this great old hymn works equally well as an autoharp solo or a full-blown band piece. It is perhaps most well-known as being played by the band onboard the Titanic in its final hours. I play it here in the key of G, using the G, D7, C, D, and Em chords.
The lyrics, written by Sarah F. Adams in 1840, have been set to several different tunes. The one presented here is the one most familiar to Americans, Bethany, written by Lowell Mason in 1856. Known as the "father of American church music," Mason (1792-1872) composed over 1600 hymn tunes and is the first important American music educator, responsible for bringing music education into the public schools. Probably his composition that is most well-known throughout the world is "Mary Had a Little Lamb!"