I have been wanting to do a project for a long while that will serve as a open repository for hymn texts and tunes. I finally bit the bullet and registered hymnody.org and have begun design of this repository. I thought, for a while, that I would use a wiki-like product, but that didn’t even come close to having the features I wanted to provide. So I’m doing a custom data-driven website.
The question I would like to ask you all is: I need a markup language for hymn texts. Hymns have particular markup requirements, if the texts are to be usefully matched up with tunes:
- The markup needs to break syllables in the correct places to match up with the meter of the hymn. For example, the word “blessed” can be either one or two syllables, depending on the meter of the hymn in which it is used.
- The markup needs to indicate line breaks.
- Specialized markup is needed to deal with contracted word forms and other peculiarities of setting metrical hymns, e.g.: “the˘op-ressed” needs special typesetting when engraved in music.
I could do this using HTML markup:
<div class="stanza"> <div class="line"> <span class="syl">Come</span> <span class="syl">Ho</span><span class="syl">ly</span> <span class="syl">Ghost,</span> </div> </div>
But that is awfully wordy. Does anyone know of existing markup languages that have been designed for my needs or can be coopted? If not, do people have an opinion on defining a dialect of HTML versus inventing a new XML vocabulary?