Farther On, a Shape-Note Hymn

Farther On is a little-known, beautiful old Shape-Note hymn in the Sacred Harp tradition.

You can download this hymn sheet music for free, as:

  • guitar tabs in the keys of D & G
  • a Middle C arrangement for beginning pianists, or 
  • a lead sheet, in four different keys

Additionally, sheet music for the ensemble sung by the Alaska String Band is available on this page!

This is such a sweet, old-timey hymn - a treasure among church songs.  And the message warms the heart.

Farther On, one of the sweetest and prettiest hymns for funerals, with guitar tabs and standard notation melody, and chord symbols

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Though the lead sheets & piano arrangements are FREE, the lovely ensemble sheet music is available FOR SALE  

Farther On Ensemble in F & G, $8.00 for unlimited copies


Page two of the guitar arrangement:

Church hymns lyrics for Farther On, a Shape Note hymn

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Following is an easy version for young pianists just learning to read music, set in Middle C position:

Farther On Shape-Note Hymn for beginner piano players, set at Middle C position

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Please notice that I have placed no fingering in the music, but I suggest thumbs side-by-side on Middle C (left thumb) and Middle D (right thumb) so that the whole octave range of the melody can be played without lifting the hand.

And a lovely piano arrangement 

Hymn sheet music

This satisfying old-time arrangement is available to download free over at my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com.

So, about the ensemble...

The first time I heard "Farther On" sung was at a performance of homeschool children and families in Juneau, Alaska.  Since then, my own students have been singing and playing it.

The Zahasky family, who are homeschoolers as well as being a professional music group known as the Alaska String Band , gave a moving performance of this apparent "new find" among old gospel hymns. (That is them in the video above.)

A song from the Shape Note tradition

I was immediately captivated and knew I HAD to have that hymn.

Farther On is apparently from the Shape-Note tradition, but it didn't show up in any searches I did the year when I first heard the hymn.

However, another kind soul apparently felt the same way as I did about Farther On, and put the Zahaskys' video on YouTube so the whole world could share in the experience.

Here is that vocal ensemble, in two keys.  

Unlike the other settings of Farther On, this arrangement is FOR SALE.  

For $8.00 USD, you may download and print UNLIMITED COPIES (for your ensemble and church choir only), in the keys of F & G!

See page 1 in the key of F, and page 4 in the key of G, shown below:

Farther On Ensemble in F & G, $8.00 for unlimited copies

Farther On Shape Note hymn for ensemble

Farther On, in the Sacred Harp tradition.  Free lead sheets, easy guitar tabs, and vocal arrangement.

Farther On Ensemble in F & G, $8.00 for unlimited copies


I have arranged the ensemble in the manner in which the Zahaskys performed it. 

  • Beginning with a solo joined by the group at the chorus, 
  • it turns into a duet, 
  • then the group at the refrain again, 
  • the group all together on verse 3, 
  • then back to a solo on verse 4 (where the music says "De capo al Coda"), 
  • and then on to the Coda at page 4, where the Zahaskys turn it into one of the most riveting a capella hymns I have ever heard.

Farther On Ensemble in F & G, $8.00 for unlimited copies


So why should you buy Farther On vocal ensemble arrangements from me?

Aside from the fact that you won't find it anywhere else, I give you permission to make UNLIMITED COPIES, for YOUR ENSEMBLE ONLY, of these two arrangements.

This song is available immediately as a digital download onto your computer.  In 2 keys!

You don't have to download any new software into your computer in order to download this PDF. I don't know about you, but I hate clogging up my computer with yet another program I didn't know I needed. You just need a version of Adobe Acrobat or another PDF reader, which all computers come with. If you DON'T have Adobe Acrobat or a similar program, then you couldn't download any of my other PDFs either.

Printing the music

You can print this music on any kind of paper you want, and thus avoid the glare of shiny pages (so irritating for accompanists!).

Write and make notes all over these copies, in red and other colors, without feeling you are spoiling your music for posterity. I dislike messing up my music books, but learning the piece is always the first priority. These printouts will make great working copies.

Do you need a letter of permission? 

Are you wanting to use this music at a competition? Write me through the Contact Me form, and I will email you a personal letter.

I give you permission to make UNLIMITED COPIES legally (for your group  only). When you need music, you usually need it NOW.  Your accompanist, your soloist-student... let them have this music without fear of copyright infringement.   And help them learn respect for the musician's trade!

A guaranteed purchase

PayPal, the payment system I use, is a secure and recognized payment system. You can pay by credit or debit card, or your bank account. E-Junkie delivers the PDF document, working as a partner with PayPal... your purchase is guaranteed.

Farther On Ensemble in F & G, $8.00 for unlimited copies


So where are the lead sheets??!!

Here is the lead sheet with guitar chords (or piano chords) in 4 different keys: D, E, F, and G. What's interesting is that the Zahaskay family is singing it in the key of Gb, using a capo on the guitar. It is a nice key for the daughter's voice, and a great key for piano. 

Shape note hymn Farther On sheet music, lead sheet with chords

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

I like to use the lead sheet version of this Shape note music for piano students who are learning to add left hand chords to simple melodies.  

Once they have nailed that, then (if they are advanced enough) we start adding right hand harmony by adding chord tones under the melody in the right hand.  

This is only fun for the student when they really love the song -- so I don't press it.

Some historical fun facts

There is an interesting story about verse 3, which begins "Jesus, Jesus will go with you..."

This verse is not found in any collection of Farther On lyrics that I came across. The only place I found those words (and variants thereon) were in links to books and articles about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

But who was Harriet Tubman?

For you non-Americans, she was a famous black woman, a former slave, who ran away and successfully escorted many other slaves to freedom along a secret route from the South to the North. Known as the Underground Railroad, there were "safe houses" along the way where slaves could find refuge from pursuers.

A song as code

The story apparently goes that as Harriet, a "conductor" or "engineer" on the Underground Railroad, approached the slave quarters where a group of potential runaways waited, she would sing a song (not Farther On) which included the words, "Jesus, Jesus will go with you..."

If she sang the song twice through, that meant it was safe to come out and follow her. If, instead, she switched to a different song and sang, "Go down, Moses, 'way down in Egypt land..." (a spiritual lamenting the bondage of Israel in Egypt, and later, of slavery in America), that was a warning that it was not safe!

Do you know this story?

If anyone knows more about this story, please let me know through my Contact Form. I want to be accurate. I would also like to know how these words came to be attached to Farther On.

The more I hear, play, and sing this hymn, the more beautiful and poignant the words and music seem to become.

This song is one of those hymns for funerals that would be very comforting at a graveside or memorial service.

The links to the free guitar music:

Download guitar arrangement of Farther On in the key of D

Download the hymn for guitar in the key of G

The beginner piano link:

Download Farther On easy hymn for beginner piano students

The lead sheet links:

Farther On lead sheet in the key of D 

Lead sheet in the key of E, as pictured above

Lead sheet in the key of F

And finally, lead sheet in the key of G

Are you interested in a piano/vocal arrangement of this pretty traditional hymn?  Head over to my website SingTheBibleStory.com  where you will find a free download of this song, for piano, on a page called Farther On Hymn sheet music.

Piano sheet music for a hymn

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