In the last post we looked at some of the tunes that you may already know and could use to sing the Psalms. These tunes were all Common Metre (C. M.) and were suitable to sing the vast majority of the Psalms.
In this post I’m going to explain the term Common Metre and also some of the other Metres we have in the Psalter.
The Metre of a song simply describes the number of syllables in each line. A Common Metre Psalm will have 4 lines. The first line will always have 8 syllables, the second line will have 6 syllables, the third line will have 8 syllables and the fourth line will have 6 syllables.
To demonstrate further if we take the 23rd Psalm we see…
Now we can look at any verse in our Psalter and work out whether it is a C.M. Psalm or not by counting the syllables in each line.
The main other Metres we use in the Psalter are Long Metre (L.M.) and Short Metre (S.M.).
Long Metre has 8 syllables in every line. The second version of Psalm 100 is a Long Metre Psalm…
This is a fairly well known tune (Old 100th) and so now you know a Long Metre tune that you can use to sing other Long Metre Psalms. Another that you may know is the tune used to sing the hymn “Fight the good fight” (Duke Street). Rockingham is another popular tune used to sing “When I survey the wondrous cross” and Tallis Canon is used to sing “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow”.
Your now well equipped to sing one of the 4 Long Metre psalms in the 1650 Psalter. Here is a list of Long Metre Psalms found in that psalter.
- 6 (1st version)
- 100 (1st version)
- 102 (2nd version)
- 145 (2nd version).
Next time we will look at Short Metre Psalms and I’ll introduce you to some ways to learn new tunes so that you can vary your singing in family worship or even in the church.
Psa 98:1 A Psalm. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.