In my choir we are currently practicing some carols, including See amid the the winter's snow, which was written by Edward Caswall (1814–1878). Its six verses and refrain each have two pairs of very clear rhymes, except for the second verse:

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim

The words "sublime" and "cherubim" don't rhyme (IPA: /səˈblaɪm/ vs. /ˈtʃɛrəbɪm/). However, it seems possible that there was a different pronunciation due to regional accents, changes in the language over time, etc.

Was "sublime" pronounced "sub-LIM" or was "cherubim" pronounced "cheru-BAIM"?

I find it hard to believe that Caswall wrote two lines that aren't supposed to rhyme when the other 26 obviously are rhyming.

  • 2
    The rhyme is close enough for a poet.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 21:29
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's questioning poetic license.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 21:30
  • 11
    Is this really off-topic? The question is wether the words can or cannot be pronounced in a certain way, not wether the author has the right or not to take liberties. There are plenty of cases were words have variations in pronunciation explained by regional accents, changes in the language over time etc.
    – Jonatan
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 21:55
  • 2
    This question is about pronounciation, not about poetry. @Jonatan I suggest you listen to the performances found on YouTube. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 21:59
  • 5
    To all the close-voters, this is not off-topic. The poem is motivation for wondering about pronunciation. Maybe there are some dialects in which these two rhyme, very reasonable question.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:58

3 Answers 3


If you use the French pronunciation of sublime: /syblim/, and the Hebrew pronunciation of the -im ending: /-im/, they both rhyme with seem.

I very much doubt that's the way Edward Caswell intended you to pronounce the hymn.

Walker's pronouncing dictionary from 1828 says that sublime and cherubim were pronounced the same way then as they are today.


Most likely, this is just an eye rhyme:

Agreement in spelling, but not in sound, of the ends of words or of lines of verse, as in have, grave.



Sublime and cherubim have different vowel length. One is /ai/ the other is /il

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