Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Metre

Something about the 7 7 7 7 metre of some songs and hymns struck me the other day. I noticed that Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep has that metre. Here is stanza one:
Loving Shepherd of Thy sheep
All Thy lambs in safety keep;
Nothing can Thy power withstand,
None can pluck them from Thy hand.
Notice the metre: 7 7 7 7.

I always thought it was a very charming metre and noticed that it is a favourite of children.

Then I noticed that Jesus Loves Me is also set to a 7 7 7 7 metre:
Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Chorus:

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so
(The chorus is: 5 5 5 6)

This means you could sing Loving Shepherd to the tune of Jesus Loves Me, and even add the chorus after every stanza. It would work because the good Shepherd we sing about in Loving Shepherd is Jesus who loves us.

Then I noticed that Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (another favourite of children) also has 7 7 7 7 metre:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
A beloved Dutch children's song, Altijd is Kortjakje ziek, has the same metre:
Altijd is Kortjakje ziek
Midden in de week maar 's zondags niet
's Zondags gaat zij naar de kerk
Met een (of: haar) boek vol zilverwerk
Altijd is Kortjakje ziek
Midden in de week maar 's zondags niet
I would not call this metre the child's metre, for other hymns also use it, but it is interesting that a number of children's songs and hymns are set to it.

Also interesting, at least to me, is that the Genevan Psalm 136 is set to this metre.
O give thanks and praise the LORD,
God of gods, with one accord,
For His steadfast love is sure;
It shall evermore endure.
Every stanza ends with the refrain: "For His steadfast love is sure; It shall evermore endure." This would have been a very useful Psalm easily to teach the children in Israel the history of God's great deeds of salvation. I find it interesting that whoever originally set the Psalm to music for the Genevan Psalter chose this charming metre.

3 comments:

Becky said...

I never noticed that before!! Thanks for pointing it out! Those 7 7 7 7 ones are definitely the easiest to teach to children!

We were in Ottawa this past weekend, too bad that we missed you!

George van Popta said...

Yes, too bad. It would have been great to see you, Eric and children. Hopefully, next time.

amymom24 said...

Very interesting!