I’m wondering if there are any subtle typographical tricks I might employ to ease the eye a bit here? For example, could I apply a slightly narrower notehead set to this system only, such that the difference from the rest of the hymn were not noticeable? Suggestions welcome.
It looks just beautiful to me, TBH – no pain. Perfectly clear, as nicely spaced as possible.
Obviously if it’s a big contrast to the spacing in the rest of the score, that would stand out. But I doubt anybody reading would complain. Typographically, I agree the biggest space hog is indeed the noteheads – this default large size reads better with music more spaced out (as it too often is nowadays). I usually use the ‘spec’ noteheads myself, but I doubt you’d want to make that obvious a change for only one system or section. “Narrower” as you say would be a subtler change. Are you into making a font for another notehead set?
I’m sure it’s something you already use, but I describe it for the sake of our fellow users who don’t: since 4.3. we can change the paragraph style used for selected lyrics. Each time I have an horizontal overload, and I have already used 3.5 as a note spacing value, I select the lyrics and use my lyrics condensed paragraph style. It’s the same font I use for regular lyrics, stretched at 93% instead of 100%. It solves most of my problems (and when it doesn’t, I consider taking other options in my breaks).
The only thing that caught my eye was the missing extender like from the first “-ia” and that perhaps the first and second “ia” could he nudged a teensy bit to the right. Otherwise I think you’ve made the best of a cramped situation.