Sing Psalms – 2

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…

Psalm23

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…

Psalm100

 

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.

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Sing Psalms – 1

There are many Psalms that instruct us to sing a new song to the Lord and I can imagine that this is how many people feel who come in to a Psalm singing congregation for the first time.

My aim is to guide people who are new to Psalm singing especially when they want to sing Psalms in their homes perhaps during family worship and there is no Precentor.

We will use the 1650 Scottish Metrical Version of the Psalms which can be purchased from the Trinitarian Bible Society here. The beauty of using this version is that if you know one Common Metre (C. M.) tune, I’ll explain this term in a later post, you can sing all 150 Psalms.

Now if you have only sung hymns before the chances are that you will already know some tunes that can be used to sing the Psalms and in this first post I’d like to point out those tunes and the Psalms that you can sing with them.

Perhaps the most well known tune is that which is used to sing the popular Hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. This is a Common Metre tune which can be used to sing all the Common Metre Psalms. Another well known tune is ‘Crimond’ often used to sing Psalm 23 ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’. This is tune 46 if you have Sol-Fa or Staff version of the 1650 Metrical Psalms. ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’ is a Hymn which often uses the tune ‘St Anne’, tune 106, another Common Metre tune. A tune which is perhaps very popular at this time of year is ‘Winchester’, tune 148, which accompanies ‘While Shepherds watched their flocks…’ this can also be used to sing all the Common Metre Psalms.

If you know any of these tunes then you can sing all 150 of the Metrical Psalms in worship. However you may have noticed if you have a copy of the ‘The Psalms of David in Metre’ that some of the Psalms have more than one version. These other versions have to be sung to a different Metre which I’ll explain in a later post. For now I just want to detail what are Common Metre versions of the Psalms so that you can sing the Psalms on your own or in Family Worship.

Any Psalm which has only one version is Common Metre and any of the above tunes can be used to sing them. The following Psalms have more than one version and I have detailed below which of these versions are Common Metre.

  • 6 (2nd Version)
  • 25 (2nd Version)
  • 45 (1st Version)
  • 50 (2nd Version)
  • 67 (2nd Version)
  • 70 (2nd Version)
  • 100 (2nd Version)
  • 102 (1st version)
  • 124 (1st Version)
  • 136 (1st Version)
  • 143 (1st Version)
  • 145 (1st version)
  • 148 (1st version)

In the next post we will look at the different versions of Metre we have in the Psalter and I’ll highlight some different Metre tunes that you will probably already know.

Psa 96:1-2 O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. (2) Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.