Category Archives: Music

Guitar Music for the 4th of July

Fireworks

If you are a guitarist and are looking for music to celebrate Independence Day this July 4th, here is a patriotic song that became popular during the American Revolutionary War.

The words and music were both composed by America’s first prolific composer, William Billings (1746–1800). Billings lived in Boston and made his living as a tanner. He was part of an effort in Protestant churches in America to help congregations learn to sing well. He composed over 100 songs and taught in a “singing school” in his church.

The first verse and tune of the hymn “Chester” were published by Billings in The New England Psalm Singer (1770). The remaining verses were added during the war and published in The Singing Master’s Assistant (1778).

CHESTER

Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And Slav’ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England’s God forever reigns.

Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton too,
With Prescot and Cornwallis join’d,
Together plot our Overthrow,
In one Infernal league combin’d.

When God inspir’d us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc’d,
Their ships were Shatter’d in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our Coast.

The Foe comes on with haughty Stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their Vet’rans flee before our Youth,
And Gen’rals yield to beardless Boys.

What grateful Off’ring shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us Sing,
And praise His name on ev’ry Chord.

Download a transcription of the tune CHESTER for classical guitar (PDF sheet music).

Download a transcription of the national anthem (The Star Spangled Banner) for classical guitar (PDF sheet music).

More music for classical guitar

Remembering J. S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

— J. S. Bach (March 21, 1685 to July 28, 1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach represents the culmination and apex of music in the Baroque era (1600–1750). He composed in almost every form of music known to his day with the exception of opera. He was known for his abilities as a teacher and for his expertise in organ construction and repair. He was much less known for his ability as a composer. He was a family man, a devout believer in Christ, a renowned organist and keyboard player, and a dedicated church musician, who despite the ridicule of some employers and little recognition for his achievements during his lifetime, continued to serve and produce music for the enjoyment of mankind and the glory of God.

Click here to download free sheet music (PDF) of music by Bach arranged for classical guitar

Click here for more music for classical guitar, including hymns, Christmas music, Wedding music, and student pieces.

The Lord Is My Delight

Just released! A new album of hymns and songs celebrating the joy of following and serving Christ.

The Lord Is My Delight 2017

Stream music and listen on Bandcamp.

Click here to download free sheet music (PDF) of these songs and hymns.

Click here for more songs and hymns.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
(Psalm 37:3–5)

New Album Coming Friday

In 2012 I released an album of songs and hymns I had written entitled Upon This Rock. That collection focused on Christ as our Rock and salvation, our one hope and resting place. This Friday, January 5th, I will be releasing a second collection entitled The Lord Is My Delight. This new album is a celebration of the joy of following and serving Christ.

Pre-order the album today and receive one of the tracks now.

I wrote the hymn My Soul What Truth Consoles You? one year ago today, on New Year’s Day 2017.  The idea for the hymn came during a message preached on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017 by Conrad Mbewe on John 3:16 entitled “God’s Indescribable Love.” Dr. Mbewe encouraged us to begin the new year with our souls “anchored deep” in the unfailing love of God in Christ.

Christmas Music for Classical Guitar

Christmas Guitar

It’s never too early to begin practicing music for Christmas!

Download a free PDF Songbook as my gift to you this Christmas season. It contains 30 Christmas hymns and songs arranged for Classical Guitar:

  1. O Come, O Come Emmanuel • VENI EMMANUEL
  2. Comfort, Comfort Ye My People • THIRSTING
  3. Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming • ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUGEN
  4. O Little Town of Bethlehem • ST LOUIS
  5. O Sing a Song of Bethlehem • KINGSFOLD
  6. O Come, All Ye Faithful • ADESTE FIDELES
  7. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear • CAROL
  8. Angels We Have Heard on High • GLORIA
  9. Angels from the Realms of Glory • REGENT SQUARE
  10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing • MENDELSSOHN
  11. The First Noel • THE FIRST NOEL
  12. What Child Is This?• GREENSLEEVES
  13. Gentle Mary Laid Her Child • TEMPUS ADEST FLORIDUM
  14. Away in a Manger • MUELLER
  15. As with Gladness Men of Old • DIX
  16. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence • PICARDY
  17. Who Is This So Weak and Helpless • EIFIONYDD
  18. Joy to the World • ANTIOCH
  19. All My Heart This Night Rejoices • WARUM SOLLT’ ICH MICH DENN GRAMEN
  20. See Amid the Winter’s Snow • SEE AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW
  21. Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella • BRING A TORCH
  22. The Coventry Carol • COVENTRY CAROL
  23. I Saw Three Ships • I SAW THREE SHIPS
  24. In the Bleak Mid-Winter • CRANHAM
  25. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day • WALTHAM
  26. Sing We Now of Christmas • FRENCH CAROL
  27. Good Christian Men, Rejoice • IN DULCI JUBILO
  28. How Great Our Joy • JUNST
  29. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen • GOD REST YOU MERRY
  30. Silent Night • STILLE NACHT

May you and your family find the peace of God in Christ and rejoice with “exceedingly great joy” in Him (Matthew 2:10).

Christmas Music for Classical Guitar

More music for Classical Guitar

Image above made with Unsplash

 

Can Music Be Evil or Worldly?

Rock Guitar

You may have read books or watched videos that teach on music and warn against various styles of music, pointing to their association with things that are ungodly. Those discussions about music can be both helpful and at times misleading. They are helpful in that—

  1. They make us aware that we should be concerned about the music we hear.
  2. They expose some very real issues of sin and abuse of music to promote evil.

But they can be misleading in that—

  1. They tend to pick on just 1 or 2 styles of music (Rock, Pop), and give the rest a pass.
  2. They often misidentify the problem.

Let me give you some guidelines for thinking about music as it relates to sin. First we must realize that—

1) All music belongs to God.

All music that we create is a part of this world. And all music belongs to God as a part of His creation. God gave us music to enjoy and glorify Him in all of life.

2) Music itself cannot be “sacred” or “secular.”

When you are considering just the music—not music and words together—not music in other contexts—just evaluating the tune—music itself is not “sacred” or “secular.” It is a false dichotomy to divide music into categories—thinking that God has His music over here—music that He prefers and delights in—and the world has its music over there that it delights in and prefers—and the really bad stuff—that is the devil’s music.

There is no “God’s music,” “world’s music,” and “devil’s music.” It is all God’s music. No tone or beat has ever been sounded in this universe that does not belong to God.

Music is not inherently religious or worldly, good or evil. There is only music—which can be employed for worship, for recreation, for celebration, for numerous occasions in which we wish to raise our affections and give voice to our emotions.

3) Music can’t be evil because “evil is nothing, i.e. no–thing.”

Evil does not consist of things, be it bullets and guns or tones, rhythms and instruments. [For an explanation of this principle listen to the message by R.C. Sproul from the Ligonier National Conference held in June 2010 on “What is Evil and Where does it come from?”] Evil does not consist of things, rather—

4) Sin is an issue of the heart.

When we see music that is wed to words or actions that dishonor God, if we are not careful, we can come to the conclusion that the problem is the music, when the real problem is sin. Sin is always an issue of the heart. Sin is found in our motives and intents as we create and use music, not in the tones, rhythms, and instruments we use to create and make music. Music can certainly be used in sinful ways to express sinful desires and wicked intentions. But the music itself is just a tool.

It has been this way since the beginning. In Genesis 4:21 we read of Jubal—the father of those who play the lyre and pipe—the first time music is referenced in the Bible. Two verses later in Genesis 4:23 we have the first recorded song in Scripture—a boast exulting in murder and lust for revenge.

All styles of music can be abused in sinful ways. Often it’s styles like Rock and Pop that are targeted as “worldly” or “evil,” while styles such as Classical are championed as wholesome and safe. Critics point to the perverse lifestyle and evil intentions of many Pop and Rock musicians. And we should heed their warnings and be on guard against using music to sin against God. But honestly, all styles of music can be abused by sin. Classical, Rock, Pop, Country and Jazz can all express a wide range of emotion. And all have a history tainted by sin. All have had composers and performers whose lives have been shattered by sin. We need discernment to judge every style and genre of music. A better way think of music in regard to evil is—

5) Music can be used in ways that honor God or profane God.

When music honors God, it is intentionally composed or used to praise Him, acknowledge Him or celebrate what is good and right. Music that honors God does not necessarily need to be worship music. It can be music that celebrates life, love, marriage, family, children, home, and many other gifts of God—and celebrates these good gifts in God-honoring ways.

When music profanes God, it is composed or used without thought of God, as an end in itself, making music to be an idol or empty. Or it is composed to celebrate or promote things contrary to God and His revealed will. And this can happen in all styles of music.

Music itself simply expresses and reflects emotion. It does not in itself distinguish between sinful expressions of emotion and pure expressions of emotion. All emotions can glorify God when channeled and expressed in God-honoring ways. God created our emotions for us to express to His glory. But emotions can be hijacked, misdirected and used in sinful ways. And music has certainly been abused and misused to express emotion in sinful ways. This world has produced some wonderfully passionate and expressive music. The music is for us to use and enjoy to God’s glory. The problem lies in that the world is often passionate and expressive about the wrong things. Their emotions have been hijacked and sent in sinful directions. And so the music they use to express themselves has been hijacked and misdirected as well.

[This excerpt is from the study “What Then Shall We Sing?” Read more from Part 1: Thoughts on Music.]

Cherished Hymns for Guitar

Announcing a new album: a collection of favorite hymns for classical guitar.

Cherished Hymns for Guitar

The great hymns of the faith are a treasure for the church.  They unite our voices in worship today to the voices of saints of old.  Early in the 1980s I began transcribing hymns for classical guitar. I played them for my own enjoyment and for preludes at church. When I began serving my first church leading music in worship, I used the transcriptions to accompany our singing. Since that time I have transcribed hundreds of hymn tunes. This album includes some of my favorite and cherished hymns.

Click here to download free sheet music (PDF) of these hymns arranged for classical guitar.

Click here for more hymns arranged for classical guitar; and here for additional music for classical guitar, including music by Bach, Christmas music, Wedding music, and student pieces.

Marking a Five-Year Milestone

Ken Puls Music

The end of this month (July 2016) marks five years online for kenpulsmusic.com. I originally launched the website in 2011 to make available the lyrics and sheet music for hymns and songs that I have written. Since that time the site has grown and now offers many other resources, including:

If you have not visited the site in a while, take a few minutes to explore and share.

The Star Spangled Banner

USA Flag
National Anthem

Oh, say, can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?

Words by Francis Scott Key (1779–1834)
Music attributed by John Stafford Smith (1750–1836)

Download free PDF sheet music of the national anthem for classical guitar

More music for Classical Guitar

Wedding Music for Guitar

I admit that I am somewhat biased, but the most beautiful music at a wedding is music played on classical guitar. These are some of the songs I have transcribed for guitar and played at weddings:

Canon in D by Pachelbel
Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (from Cantata 147) by Bach
Ode to Joy (from Symphony 9, Opus 125) by Beethoven
Bridal Chorus (“Here Comes the Bride”) by Wagner
Wedding March (from Opus 61) by Mendelssohn

Download free (PDF) sheet music for these songs here.

Westside Baptist Church
Westside Baptist Church (former location) in Omaha, Nebraska

Learn this music and next time you are asked to play at a wedding, you will be ready.

You are welcome to copy and share this music with friends and fellow guitar enthusiasts. Please copy the full page with the website address and the “Used by Permission” notice at the bottom (see Permissions).

For additional music, including music by Bach, Christmas music, and more visit: Music for Classical Guitar