Understanding Hymn and Meeting English

These are just a few explanations and examples of “meeting English”: the language used in hymns, prayers, and testimonies. Some words will also be explained in a complete dictionary.

Others are used differently from everyday language, either for poetic reasons (better stress, rhythm, and rhyme) or because they are closer to Biblical English. 

See that page also, especially for an explanation of the use of ‘Thee’, ‘Thou,’ and ‘Thy’ (and the ‘-st’ 2nd person singular verb ending for the present tense—whenever the hymns (and often prayers) address God. (‘Thee’ is also used a few times in the hymns instead of singular ‘you’ in speaking to another person.)

Hymn Vocabulary

See the explanation on the Biblical English page  (above) for ‘Thee’ and other 2nd person singular use, as well as for ‘lest’ near the bottom of the page.

‘Ere means before something happens: “ ‘Ere we part” means ‘before we separate from each other.’

‘Tis is a contraction for ‘it is.’;  o’er is short for 'over.' A ‘foe’ is an enemy.


--Father (or Our Father, our heavenly Father, Lord, Dear Lord), we thank Thee for/are thankful for… 

  • Thy word, 
  •  the truth, 
  •  Thy way
  •   this meeting
  •   our hope in Jesus, 
  •   forgiveness, 
  •  cleansing, 
  •  fellowship, 
  •  our brothers and sisters, 
  •  the workers/Thy servants

--Help us [+ verb infinitive]

  •  be true
  •  be obedient
  •  overcome ourselves
  •  keep separated
  •  love each other more
  •  follow Jesus more closely

--We pray that…[+ phrase: we could love Thee more, Thou wouldst help us, etc.]

--We pray for

  • a meek and quiet spirit
  •  a child-like spirit
  •  Thy grace/help
  • Thy servants
  • our brothers and sisters in other parts

Many of the hymns in Hymns Old and New give examples of prayers: #202, 224-226, 237, 261, 336, 370 and others.


• I am/I feel/ we are thankful/ grateful for… (For examples, see especially hymns 236 to 240.)

• I appreciate… 

• I read (past- pronounced ‘red’)/was reading/have been studying the book of…

• I enjoyed/liked/was thinking about/noticed verse 2 (or other number), which says “ ...“

Hymns 241, 254, and 347 give examples.

More Meeting English

Words for happiness and related feelings: gladness, contentment, joy, satisfaction, thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation.  Related adjectives (for I am…, I feel…, we are…) happy, glad, content, joyful or joyous, satisfied, thankful, grateful, appreciative.

Words for the ministry: formally ‘the servants of God,’ ‘apostles,’ ‘ministers;’ informally ‘workers’ (or ‘sister’ or ‘brother workers.’)

Words for the people of God: saints, the friends (most common, informally), our fellowship, the church.

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