How to Play Nearer My God to Thee – Easy Ukulele Song

by | Apr 15, 2018 | About our books, Video lessons | 3 comments


On the following video on how to play Nearer My God to Thee,  Jenny presents several strum patterns in two different keys. If you’re the sing and strum type, you can try that with a couple of strum patterns or finger-picking. Get the lyrics and chords sheet in the key of C here.

Jenny also plays a solo melody for one verse. So if you prefer the ukulele to do the singing for you, get a copy of the melody tab sheet in the key of G here.



Nearer My God to Thee is a great song for beginners to learn on the ukulele since it only has three chords. Jenny does a ‘sing and strum’ in the key of C and a ‘solo melody’ in the key of G. This way you have the option to play in either key or even both if you like.

For the key of C, we have the chords C, F and G7 while for the key of G, we got G,  C and D7. Jenny does an all-down strum (four beats per measure) on the first verse. To vary up a little bit, she tries a down (1), down (2), up-down (3), down-up (4) on the second verse. In addition, she also does a fingerpicking strum on the third verse. Finally, she shows a simple chord melody on the last verse. So without further ado, check out the video below to learn how to play Nearer My God to Thee.


Sarah Fuller Flower Adams wrote the text of the famous Christian hymn Nearer My God to Thee in the early 1840s. Sarah Adams was one of two daughters of radical publisher Benjamin Flower. Upon the death of her father, Sarah and her sister Eliza became wards of a family friend, William Johnson Fox.

Since Fox was a preacher, an orator as well as an editor, Sarah and Eliza often helped Fox in his works. While Eliza worked on the musical side of the chapel services, Sarah contributed on the writing of hymns. Nearer My God to Thee was one of the thirteen hymns Sarah wrote for chapel services in 1840 to 1841.


Sarah’s sister Eliza first set the music to Nearer My God to Thee. However a later and more popular musical setting of the poem was made to the Horbury tune, one of over 300 tunes composed by hymn composer and minister John Bacchus Dykes. Many other tunes have also been associated with this Christian hymn such as Propior Deo, St. Edmund, Rothwell, Liverpool and Bethany.

While the Horbury tune was the most correlated setting to Nearer my God to Thee in the United Kingdom, the Bethany tune by American hymn composer Lowell Mason was the usual accompaniment to the song in the United States and other countries. Mason is also famous for the musical arrangement to one of the most famous Christmas songs Joy to the World.


Nearer My God to Thee was claimed by some survivors of the doomed RMS Titanic to have been played by the ship’s orchestra while the ship was sinking in 1912. This claim however was refuted by other survivors with one survivor reporting to have heard another song called Autumn.

The account about Nearer My God to Thee being sung by the musical band of the Titanic may have been influenced by a similar event in an earlier maritime disaster, the wreck and sinking of SS Valencia in 1906. The few survivors of the Valencia recounted how the stranded passengers on the sinking ship, mostly women and children bravely sang this memorable hymn.

If you enjoyed this post about “Nearer My God to Thee,” you’ll enjoy these related posts:

These posts will show you how to play other hymns on the ukulele.

Do you want to play hymns with confidence?

In our Hymn Kits you'll find something for varied learners, from beginners to a little more advanced.

Get your Hymn Kit today!


  1. Catherine

    Thanks again for this wonderful tutorial. You are making this lockdown so much more enjoyable and productive than I could have imagined. Thanks

    • Lala

      Glad you liked the tutorial and that our ukulele lessons help in some way during this lockdown. Happy strumming!

      • Jana

        Thank u for all your many talents


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