Here are a few Christmas arrangements to wrap your fingers around in Open D  (DADF#AD) guitar tuning from the Open D Guitar Christmas Songbook.  Both songs, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” arranged with notation, guitar tablature and some suggested finger and barre markings.

Open D guitar tuning is becoming more popular for many guitarists looking to add a variety to their overall repertoire.  Tuning the guitar to an open chord simplifies some chords because you can play a major chord with one finger but also complicates some chords for the same reason making it hard to finger some chords.  Open tuning is great for slide playing and the number two tuning on the resonator (Dobro) guitar. 

The beauty of open tunings is that the notes can ring out and overlap each other, creating a sustained sound.  This technique works well in open guitar tunings and is called “Campanella.” For more information about this style of guitar playing, check out the blog post “Celtic Flatpicking

O Come, All Ye Faithful Fingerstyle Arrangement in Open D Guitar Tuning

 “O Come, All Ye Faithful” is a Christmas carol dating back at least 350 years ago and initially written in Latin as “Adeste Fideles.” Here’s the earliest printed version dating back to a book published by John Francis Wade in 1751:

o come all ye faithful adeste fidelis open d fingerstyle

This fingerstyle arrangement in Open D guitar tuning demonstrates effective use of the open strings and fingered chords.  There are a few tricky bars to solve before you start out.  In measure 3, notice the fingering written in the notation line on top.  This is a typical fingering seen in many classical guitar pieces:     

O Come All Ye faithful Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog Pic-02 measure 3

On the last beat of measure 5, make a barre over the 2nd fret to play the notes in the E chord:

O Come All Ye faithful Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog Pic-05 measure 5

In measure 8, there is a quick scale passage moving up the neck.  Notice the slide with the first finger moving from the 2nd to 4th fret:

O Come All Ye faithful Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog Pic-03 measure 8

And in the third measure from the end (18), you will need to form the D/A chord.  Use your 2nd finger on the 4th fret to create the chord:

O Come All Ye faithful Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog Pic-03 measure 8

Here is the audio track for O Come, All Ye Faithful, with the sheet music below.  For a free PDF version download here:

O Come All Ye faithful Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog Pic-01

That wasn’t too hard, was it? Ok, let’s move on to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. 

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen  

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a traditional English Christmas carol dating back to the 16th century or earlier.  The melody is in the minor sounding Dorian mode and is considered to be a parody.  The earliest known manuscript dated back to 1760 and was also referred to in Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol.

This second piece also has a few sections to try before you start playing.  In measure 3 to 4, use the fourth finger to play the 5th fret, then slide up to the 7th fret to play the A chord:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog-02 measure 3-4

Hold the barre chord down on the 5th fret to fill in the Gm harmony with the melody in measure 9:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog-03 measure 9

And in the third measure from the end (36), notice the fingering written in the notation line.  Form the barre at the 8th fret on the last beat:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog-04 measure 36

Ok, here’s the full version with the audio below.  To download the free pdf go here.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Open D Guitar Tuning Open D Christmas Songbook Brent Robitaille Blog-01

Open D, though takes time to retune, is worth the effort to adds a full sound and variety to your repertoire but definitely worth the trouble. For more Open D arrangements, check out “Celtic Flatpicking in Open D,” or the blog post on “How to play a 12-bar blues in Open D

The Open D Guitar Christmas Songbook

The Open D (DADF#AD) Guitar Christmas Songbook has thirty-holiday favourites and a 40-page Open D reference with Tab, chords, and more.

Celtic Flatpicking Open D Guitar Tuning

Tuning your guitar to DADF#AD or “Open D” tuning compliments Celtic guitar music perfectly. 30+ Celtic session tunes and songs. Jigs, reels, songs, hornpipes, waltzes, plus useful tips for Flatpicking and ornamentation. DADF#AD chords and arpeggios, Celtic strumming patterns, Campanella major, minor and modal scales, plus a DADF#AD fingerboard chart.

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