Is there any rule or theory which can help to find a proper verse length when setting text to music?

Right now I'm working on a melody which is of 8 + 8 + 8 measures length. Now the last 8 measures turned out to be a block which has to be repeated (it's from the sound somehow). That makes it 8 + 8 + 2 * 8 measures for one verse. And now I notice, that this pattern hardly applies to the text's content, because it would tear things which belong together into different verses. This could be fixed by cutting 4 measures of the second part, so the whole song would look like 8 + 4 + 2 * 8, but I'm afraid this destroys some harmony which is only there if you stick to blocks of 8 measures.

The question might be pointless as I have no idea of music theory and I'm a newbie to writing melodies, but I thought may be somebody has a hint what could be helpful concerning this topic.

I've not yet started the English version, but anyway here's the division by content and the current melody

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    1. The heavens declare the glory of God, 
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 

    Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 
    There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 

    Their voice goes out through all the earth, 
    and their words to the end of the world. 

    2. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, 

    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 
    Its rising is from the end of the heavens, 

    and its circuit to the end of them, 
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat. 

    3. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; 
    the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 

  • If we could see the text, some ideas may be forthcoming.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


The classic standard song format is 32 bars in the form AABA where the A and B parts are each 8 bars long. The B part is called "The Bridge" or the chorus.

The modern pop song verse-chorus form varies but, hey it's a whole new world out there. Folks are writing songs that change the forms completely, although tunes tend to keep the 8-bar units.

So my advice to you is to use the song format that best serves your song. Don't change the song to suit the format.

  • I'm confused with bars and measures. Is it the same?
    – user12261
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 16:43
  • Yes, bars means the same as measures.
    – empty
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 16:44
  • use the song format that best serves your song - good point.
    – user12261
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 16:48
  • if this answers your question please check it off and/or vote up the answer. thx!
    – empty
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 16:52
  • If this is a hymn to be performed then go for the structure that suits the song. If this is a hymn for the congregation to sing then you might want to consider putting it into a 32 bar form to conform with the congregation's expectations of song structure--it'll be easier for them to sing.
    – empty
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 16:19

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