Psa 147:1 Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
As I promised in the last post we will concentrate on Short Metre Psalms and then finish by looking at some of the other less used metres that we have in the 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalm book.
Short Metre Psalms have 6 syllables in the first, third and fourth lines and 8 syllables in the third line. The second version of Psalm 45 is a Short Metre Psalm and we can see the metre demonstrated below.
Unfortunately I don’t know of any popular hymns that use a Short Metre tune, the best I could come up with is the tune (Diademata) sung to ‘Crown Him with many crowns’ which is not in the Scottish Psalter (the tune, not the hymn, obviously). This isn’t exactly Short Metre but Double Short Metre which basically means the tune has twice as many lines as Short Metre and the Metre is repeated. So instead of 6 syllables, 6 syllables , 8 syllables and 6 syllables as we have above for Psalm 45, you have 6686 6686. the tune’s length is doubled. Although the tune is not included in the Scottish Psalter you can still use it in worship. Just be aware that if you sing Psalm 45 or any other short metre Psalm you will always need to sing an even number of verses or you’ll run out of words before you run out of tune!
Here is a list of the Short Metre Psalms in the Scottish Psalter
- 25 (1st Version)
- 45 (2nd Version)
- 50 (1st Version)
- 67 (1st Version)
- 70 (1st Version)
We’ve now looked at the three main metres of tune that we use when we sing the Psalms of the Scottish Psalter but there are other, less used, metres in the Scottish Psalter.
We’ve mentioned Double Short Metre (D.S.M) tunes, of which there are none in the Psalter but we do have Double Common Metre tunes which are double length Common Metre tunes where the metre is repeated.
All the rest of the tunes we have in the Psalter are designated by the amount of syllables in each line. So we have 66 66 which has 6 syllables per line, 66 66 D which is the same as the previous meter but doubled and both of these fit the second version of Psalm 143. We have 66 66 88 which fits with Psalms with 6 lines namely the second versions of Psalms 136 and 148, 87 87 D which is close to Common Metre but also doubled and fits the first version of 136 and finally 10 10 10 10 10 which is used for the second version of Psalm 124.
Below is a PDF with every Psalm in the Psalter and its corresponding metre or metres.
Hopefully this has helped direct your own worship using the Scottish Psalter. Next time we’ll talk a little about how we sing the Psalms and which tunes are better suited to which Psalms.