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So called because their verses, in sequence or in parallel series, begin with the successive letters of the alphabet. The best known is Psalm 118, which begins each of its twenty-two stanzas (each of eight verses) with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Lamentations of Jeremiah are another example of alphabetic arrangement in Hebrew poetry. This feature is not discernible in vernacular translations except that the Hebrew letter name precedes each verse.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.