I was listening to this the other day and was wondering if this was grammatically correct.

Were the whole realm of nature mine...

I'm OK with this one; the realm isn't mine and likely never will be;

that were an offering far too small

Why is were used here? To me it feels that would be would be more correct, although not as good a fit to the metre.

  • The question title suggests your second fragment could be given more context. – Weather Vane Mar 18 '19 at 9:19
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    this is from library.timelesstruths.org/music/… Were the whole realm of nature mine / That were a present far too small; / Love so amazing, so divine, / Demands my soul, my life, my all. – David Siegel Mar 18 '19 at 9:22

Yes the meaning is "would be".

"were" in he sense of "would be" is an archaic usage, particularly common in Biblical language (King James version) and other writings from that period, such as Shakespeare.

Here it is used for meter, to echo the previous use of "were", and because the suggestion of biblical language fits the religious verse here.

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