Alt., Arr., Adapted, Harm., Based on, etc..

You are here

I'm helping with a project verifying and updating hymn attributions for a collection. I wondered if anyone here has ever found a written definition for when to use different designations relating to different music or text versions of a hymn, such as "arr." "alt." "adapted" "harm." "based on" etc. that would be listed after the composer or author/lyricists names when there have been revisions since the original. I have a general idea of when each of these would be used and how they differ, but I have not found any authoritative sources and wondered if any exist?


The relevant official pages you're looking for on the editor's wiki are the Date, Text year, Altered text, and Definition of terms pages. The straight, clear answer is scattered amongst all of them, so here's what I've pieced together.

Normally, these things go in the Date field of the Text/Tune Persons table. For example, if the hymnal has:

Text: L. Clark, ca. 1880, alt.

Then the Text/Tune Persons table should look like this.

Here's the official guidelines from those pages, specifically talking about those date fields:

For each instance, enter the date the hymn was written or composed, as given in the hymnal.

Also include in this field any notes that the text/tune was altered or abridged after the hymn was written, after the year if it is given, or alone if no year is given, as in: "1879, alt."

If there is an "alt." (altered), "mod." (modernized), etc., include it after the date, separated by a comma.

If there is an "alt." but no date, just put the "alt." in the date field.


  • 1826, alt.
  • 7th century
  • c. 1826
  • about 1540

And finally, a more complex example, clarified from the next-to-last link above. Given the hymnal saying:

Words: Isaac Watts, 1719; alt. by John Wesley, 1737; alt. 1989

Then the proper table should be this.

huh. looks like tables don't work in forum posts.

I fixed it. Tables are now links to images of tables.(why is it in the toolbar if it's not supported?)

It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support