How to Select Hymn Tunes

Hymn Books

Each hymn in the hymnbook has a set of numbers just above it that gives its metre.

Examples are CM,;

CM = Common Metre; shows 7 stanzas in each of four lines of the hymn; indicates stanzas of 8 and 7 on alternate of four lines of the hymn, but the D indicates this is doubled so that in fact the hymn has 8 lines.

You don’t need to worry about stanzas, just the number and letter coding.

Hymn Music

Either in the back or front of the music book there will be a metrical index. This will show the hymn number in the music book that is a particular metre. So that under for example there will be a set of hymn numbers all of which have this metre. Every hymn tune with a specific metre can be used for and will fit the words of any hymn in the SNU hymnbook that shows this metre.

How to download suitable music

  • Choose your hymn from the SNU hymnbook and note its metre. This should also indicate the number of lines per verse. So that if there are 4 sevens ( this indicates 4 lines per verse.

  • If you know the name of the hymn tune you use this makes the job easier.

Go to a website that offers free midi file downloads below are two such websites:

  • Either select the tune you want from the tune list or select a tune from the metre list.

  • Check the options for the tune you have chosen as they offer different ones – Church Organ, Small Band, Choir etc. It is best to listen to the various options before you make your choice.

  • Having chosen your hymn tune and having checked that it is for the number of verses you have. Download the MP3 file onto your computer.

  • Depending on the audio system your church has you can either then play the MP3 file directly or – Convert it to CD format and put it on to a CD to use with a CD player.


Once you have a hymn tune with a particular metre you can use this for any hymn with that metre. So that in the small blue hymn book metre has 29 hymns listed against it. One hymn tune with this metre is Monkland so you could use Monkland for all these 29 hymns. Theoretically you could have only one hymn tune at each metre but this becomes pretty boring for your congregation.

Copyright Warning

Some hymn tunes are copyrighted and not downloadable free and you will be asked to pay a fee. These are few and far between and the fees are not excessive.


Spiritualist Carols

Christmas carols are often missed by Spiritualists who like to join in with the festive spirit. Below are a set of alternative Spiritualist carols, appropriate to sing in our churches and centres, set to traditional tunes, and containing the uplifting message of Spiritualism!

Download and print the Carol Book here