Poetic Meter

Meter – Find Hymns By Poetic Meter

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Introduction to Poetic Meter

The Poetic Meter of  hymn defines what music the hymn can be sung to. This sometimes means that several hymns can be sung to the same tune.

But be warned!

  • Each of the recordings on Hymns Without Words, are recorded to match the pointing of the lyrics. This means that there are breaths in the music to allow for punctuation such as commas, colons and full-stops.  As a result using one tune with another hymn will not always work well. To ensure you have the right music to accompany your hymn, please request a new recording.
  • Some hymns use to different meter for different versions of the hymn – good examples of this include: The Lord’s My Shepherd and Be Thou My Vision.

When I started to list the Poetic Meter I used the convention in the hymn books from my local church which is to pair the lines by meter, so 66 96 would imply six syllables in lines 1,2 and 4 and 9 syllables in line 3. In many hymn books this would be written as The issue with the convention I have used is that, if the number is greater than 9, then each line is written separately as in 10 12, which in the other convention would be 10.12 which is clearer.  I may attempt to update the Poetic Meter categories to use this better and more common convention – watch this space.

Finally there are a number of short codes for common meters. These include:

  • CM (53) Common Meter, is shorthand for 86 86 or
  • DCM (12) Double Common Meter, is shorthand for 86 86 86 86 or
  • LM (50) Long Meter, is shorthand for 88 88 or
  • DLM (7) Double Long Meter, is shorthand for 88 88 88 88 or and is sometimes listed as LMD
  • SM (13) Short Meter, is shorthand for 66 86 or
  • DSM (3) Double Short Meter, is shorthand for 66 86 66 86  or
  • Irregular (25) Indicates that the meter may change from verse to verse.
  • And Refrain indicates that a refrain is added to the meter.
  • The addition of a D at the start or end of a meter indicates that the number of lines is doubled.

List of Meters

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