Monday 31 May 2021

Phasing Out The Common European Psalm

Big news on the Beaker Brexit front, as it has been discovered that we have been singing metrical psalms all this time. It has led to calls for all metrical psalms to revert to imperial measures. Don't want any metric in our newly-independent United Kingdom.

This is a major change. After all, we're reverting to the way we sang psalms prior to the UK's entry into the Eurovision Song Contest. It may sound a bit obscure and technical to some. So best to explain through a common metrical psalm, such as the Lord's my Shepherd.

Under the European Psalm Harmonisation Measure, The Lord's my Shepherd was in Common Meter  (8-6-8-6). In reverting to traditional English psalmody, this has now been converted back to Short Imperial Meter (£8/6/6½d). Long Meter is now Brilliant Imperial Meter ((£12/8/4½d).

There are some problems with this of course. Notably all the fractions of iambic tetrameter that are left over after rounding. There is a concern that, in keeping with the alleged inflationary effect of decimalisation in the 1970s, that all poetry will now be a bit shorter. Again to use Psalm 23, this has had to be reduced to:

The Lord's my Shep.
I'll not.
He makes me green the waters.

Some are saying that these shortened psalms aren't as good as the old, efficient, pre-Brexit ones. If you've heard the Beaker Quire, however, you'll know that the shorter the psalms, the happier we will all be.

1 comment :

  1. Singing the Psalms only happens in our Church for Evensong, sadly not heard for the last 15 months. But it will be restored at the end of June (Hopefully) and we can than decide whether metrical or imperial is the preference. But given that our Music Director is traditional, we might sing Metrical as that is in their armoury of Psalms and Settings.


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