Lyric alignment

I’ve noticed that the first syllable of a hyphenated word where the second syllable is on the third or more note along and also words with an extension lines always seems to left align. I know I can go Into the properties and change them but it is irritating to have to do it for each occurrence, or at best by a selected group.
Is it possible to have a choice in the engraving options for them to default to centre as well as left align.

Dorico follows well-established practice for lyric alignment, but I’m aware that in particular with some hymnal publishers in the US, other conventions are used, and we do plan to make it possible to use different conventions in future.

I hear what you are saying and it’s probably the type of music I work with but I prefer it that way or it’s what I’ve got used to. Thank you for your response.

The good news is it is really easy to make adjustments in the meantime.

Yes please add options for alignment (re: words that start a melisma either left-aligned or center-aligned, et.)!!

Just a follow-up here. Hymnal work is probably 80% of what I do in Dorico every day. Overall, I love it, but this lyric alignment thing could be improved.

I agree with the OP. I’d also like the option to set the first lyrics of each system to left-align, and all subsequent lyrics to center-align. (I feel like I’ve requested this before, but I can’t find it in a search. If so, sorry.)

This is perhaps slightly OT but I would also like finer horizontal control over lyric syllable placement which would affect note spacing. I already have macros for left-aligning, center-aligning and right-aligning syllables, and these do affect note spacing, but there are plenty of instances in which a [long] syllable seriously distorts the music and just nudging it in one direction or another would improve or even solve the problem, but after nudging the syllable one still needs to enter Engrave Mode/Note Spacing to remove the distortion which nudging has made no longer necessary.

Oh heaven’s yes! I know that at least once I’ve mentioned this here before too. I believe at that time I suggested perhaps giving us the ability to nudge lyrics in note spacing mode so that way we could shift them relative to the rest of the column without the column itself moving. Perhaps an alternative would be to give us an alternate keystroke (alt+ctrl?) that would permit this to happen without entering note spacing mode.

(As a reminder, a stop-gap solution to this was introduced this year where we can turn off automatic spacing so Dorico won’t move things after we nudge lyrics. Sadly it’s a bit of a baby-with-the-bathwater solution.)

My current wishlist for lyric improvements are:

  • (as Dan said) the ability to left align lyrics at the start of every stave when there are multiple lines of lyrics.


  • This is related but just as important: the auto alignment of verse numbers at the start of staves 2–X on a given page. The first stave is always offset due to the time/key signatures which is fine, but from staves 2 down, verse numbers should have their horizontal offset aligned vertically all the way up and down the page. At least for hymnal work. It’s terribly obvious this is not the case when you have verse numbers activated for every stave and “1.2.3.4.” doesn’t line up between any stave. It looks terrible and I have to use a ruler tool or a 3rd party program to fix it.


  • Universal adjustment parameter for lyric offsets relative to noteheads when left aligned. I find that when I’m setting chant or psalms, long lines of text set under a double-whole note look best when nudged to the left two clicks. I don’t know why… but text, at least for my default font, always appears too far to the right relative to the notehead and I wish I had a parameter to adjust this. (If there is one and I’m just dense, let me know lol.)


  • This is a biggy (also expressed previously on the forum by Dan and myself): voluntary extender lines. Currently there’s no way to force them that I know of, short of switching to a different voice mid-way through a lyric. This works if you’re hacking it between S&A sharing one stave, but it fails miserably when your setting a hymn and the tenors are the only ones who have multiple notes. You need the extender line, but generating the lyric on the lower stave, flipping it, and attempting to align baselines is a nightmare. You’re better off finishing, exporting the PDF to another program and then copying an extender line from elsewhere on the page and adjusting it.


  • Also useful but perhaps niche: I’d like it if Dorico automatically left-aligned a lyric whenever you have more than one word (via alt+shift+space) before advancing. This affects me all the time when setting psalms. A particular psalm tone might require a particular verse to have two words on the final chord of the tone. If this is the case, it should automatically left align if I type more than one word. Perhaps it could also intelligently intuit that if one verse needs to be left-aligned at that particular chord, then the other lines of lyrics should be also (at that particular spot).

There’s actually an easy way around us that is a part of my workflow for every single hymn I do. Before doing any notes spacing, in engrave mode, select all lyrics, then nudge left once and nudge right once. That assigns an “offset” property to every lyric, and prevents any future not spacing adjustments when you nudge the lyrics later.

You know, Dan, I feel like I remember reading that trick once upon a time, but I had totally forgotten all about it. I’m glad you reminded me.

Oh, and for heaven’s sake: Good God I wish we could easily select multiple measures and then filter the lyrics in engrave mode. Constantly switching back to write mode just to mass select a particular type of object, filter for it, and then go back into engrave mode to set a parameter that is hidden in write mode is a real pain.

Select More?

Yes, that’s the ticket!

That doesn’t help me when I’m working on a psalm and need to edit the verses but not touch the refrain, for instance. But you’re right: for certain things this is helpful. But not for all.

(Also, interesting rhythm on Nun Danket. I’ve never seen the dotted quarter / eighth rhythm before.)

And here in the UK even the pitches of some of the notes are different in all the hymnals I’ve come across. E.g. the line “with hearts …” is C B-flat A G A G F, and again in the repeat of the line. Then G G G A C G, G quaver A quaver B-natural crotchet C D B-natural C. Seems more interesting to me, but that’s probably because I’ve been singing it that way for 65+ years. In crossing the Atlantic the tune has certainly undergone a sea change.

This is hopelessly off-topic!

Michael Aves

I rather like the rabbit trail!

For the record, this isn’t the version I’m used to either. It was a particular and unique version requested by a client for a hymnal. I think NUN DANKET has stayed fairly consistent in the Protestant tradition, even in the US.

The US Hymnal 1940 has even notes on the first line and the repeated C for “With,” so this is not solely a British thing.

This has prompted me to do some digging. The tune (I haven’t checked harmony/lower voice parts) in Dan’s hymnal is Cruger’s original version (Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien, 1649 - see 19th century transcription on IMSLP). Seems it was first published in Cruger’s Praxis Pietatis Melica of 1647, which I have not run to earth. The familiar version is described in the English Hymnal (1933) as the “present form” of the melody. It is in this form in the 1st edition (1860) of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Another hymnal reminds me that often the harmony parts used today owe a lot to Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang (1840).

That’s quite enough homework for a Saturday afternoon.

Michael Aves

Similar alterations occurred with the original version of “Silent Night.”