Latin Lessons for Schola Members
  • Recently I have started to rework a series of (only five so far!) introductory Latin lessons originally based on texts my erstwhile schola was working on. My question is: What would you want to see from a beginner's Latin "textbook" to help those in your choirs who are unfamiliar with Latin?
  • Carol
    Posts: 636
    One thing to keep in mind which trips me up occasionally is that Classical Latin has different pronunciation than Church Latin. This causes me problems from time to time. Not sure where they are teaching Latin anymore as a school subject, I am much older than your schola aged singers.
    Thanked by 1canadash

  • if your priest chants any part of the Mass, show them where they can follow along with this. I've been told it helps.

    Maybe you could begin each practice with singing the Angelus - some day, you will tell the singers to close their books and do the Ave Maria on their own, and the feeling of discovery and accomplishment will be a big encouragement.
  • The back of the second edition of the Parish Book of Chant has a great guide. That in itself is a good resource.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Merry Christmas

    I've oft cited this as my go to text reference:
    Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire: Vol. 1: Sacred Latin Texts by Ron Jeffers.

    Afterthought: if you can successfully instill the proper enunciation of "in" throughout any whole work, you've accomplished a vast, great service to your choral efficiency and beauty.
    Thanked by 2CCooze RachelR
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,919
    Since the music illuminates the text, it will also be very useful if schola members understand elementary Latin syntax. Nothing is more destructive to Chant singing than breathing/breaking the flow after every 5-6 notes sung--and believe me, I've heard "scholas" do that often.
  • I'll second Translations and Annotations... as cited above by Charles.
    This should be a staple in anyone's library.
  • Thanks to all! I appreciate your advice.
  • Textbook? How about Low Tech? Try not looking at pieces of paper? Consider the words of the Gloria Patri. Learn the Gloria Patri in a mode, until you can bow your head and sing it as a prayer to God. Learn the meaning and words of a short psalm. Learn to sing this prayer in a mode, with the Gloria Patri. Eventually you can turn all the lights off in the chapel and sing Monastic Compline in the darkness, like my pals do at Our Lady of the Rock, OSB. Then stay silent so the words and music resound in your heart and mind.
  • A Pdf file .... Correct Latin Pronunciation -by M deAngelis can be obtained

    also audio files can be found at:
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,207
    Inn eggshellsis???
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,427
    Pronunciation guides that use English spelling to provide guidance do more harm than good. English spelling is full of historical strangenesses, and misleads the beginners who read such guides. Throw them away.
    Thanked by 1JL
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,207
    Indeed, but one hardly comes out ahead using that particular audio link.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • Ideally they would learn the language, but how likely is that to happen? And can you wait for it to happen? (I love Latin and read more Latin than I read English -- I'm not advocating against learning it.) I think that the best thing you can plausibly do is to get them to understand the sound of Latin, especially (after basic pronunciation rules are absorbed) which syllables are important and which are not important. Have them listen to somebody who can read it well, and repeat after that person. Mark the stresses (and perhaps even more important, non-stresses) in the music.

    I once attended a mass sung by a well-intentioned schola that seemed to feel that the suffix '-ibus' was the most important element of the language. It drove me to distraction not because clearly they did not understand what they were singing but because, invariably, stressing that part of the word was very unmusical.

  • Eggshellsis - yes, that's how the Dominican Sisters taught us to sing it when I was in grade school.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Can anyone provide me with a convoluted English translation of the first one or two verses of Jesu Dulcis Memoria? I teach CCD to a group of young teens and I would like
    them to sing the hymn as a prayer at the end of class. I wish to have the corresponding
    English words below the Latin words even though the English will be ungrammatical,
    so that the students can learn to "think" the piece in Latin as we pray it. Something like,"Jesus, of you the sweet memory", or whatever would be best. The little Latin I can understand myself is due to English translations and some years of studying French.
    Can one of you who is well versed in Latin help with this small project?
  • Well, as you said, ungrammatical and barely intelligible, but here it is (corrected):

    Jesu dulcis memoria
    Of Jesus sweet memory,

    dans vera cordi gaudia:
    giving true to the heart joy

    sed super mel et omnia
    but more than honey and all

    ejus dulcis praesentia.
    his sweet presence

    Nil canitur suavius,
    Nothing sung (is) more delightful

    nil auditur jucundius,
    Nothing heard (is) more pleasant

    nil cogitatur dulcius,
    Nothing thought (is) sweeter

    quam Jesus Dei Filius.
    than Jesus of God the Son.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,427
    Can you check the "dans", MD?
    Thanked by 1MichaelDickson
  • Elmar
    Posts: 277
    "dans" should translate: "giving" (present participle of "dare" = "to give")
  • Check out Chants of the Church (1953), a whole book laid out like that. It has Jesu dulcis.
  • Thank you so very much Michael Dickson for taking the time to do this ! This is precisely what I wanted. Thanks also to chonak and Elmar. ( I thought that "dans" had some "give" meaning but it didn't seem to square with "dona" sorts of words). And further thanks to JonathanKK. I have briefly looked at Chants of the Church and it looks altogether useful! I entered this forum hesitantly as I haven't belonged to forums in the past and am hardly qualified to belong to this one. (I sing in a rather poor little choir in a small parish). But I received so much help from you generous souls for my CCD class! Thank you again in Christ
  • Carol
    Posts: 636
    Veronica, you should not feel inadequate in this forum. I am fairly knew to the forum, and find that those who post most frequently are very knowledgeable and very passionate regarding Gregorian Chant, etc. I have learned a great deal and post rarely. I enjoy reading the back and forth of this online group.
  • Thank you Carol for your encouragement. Our choir attempts to chant the Novus Ordo Latin Mass once a month and believe me, we can use all the help we can get.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Second what Carol says. Don't feel inadequate. Take me for example. I used to think "Air on the G String" was drying instructions for Gypsy Rose Lee's laundry. Then I found this forum, and it's helped.

    You become a musician by being a musician. You become a good one by doing that a lot!Spending time on this Forum, asking questions, and just reading the responses of seasoned musicians helps tremendously. And everyone on here is willing and able to help you in any way they can. (Except for CharlesW. He's just cranky.)

    And if you can, make it to a Colloquium at some point in the future. It will pay off big time!
  • Tagging onto Carol and Stim... we are all in the same boat - or more accurately, we are all making the same journey. Education is a life-long process and we all struggle along as best we can.

    The only qualification to belonging (imo) is a willingness to engage on both sides of the education process.
  • (My brain switched to French for some inexplicable reason! Sorry for the slip-up -- it is corrected above.)
  • - probably because I had mentioned French in my post. Thanks to all for the helpful comments.
  • WGS
    Posts: 255
    Pardon me for getting back to the original issue....

    but there is a very useful resource for introducing and encouraging the use of Latin and chant for a choir or even for a group of interested parishioners .

    Consider "Understanding the Latin Mass" - "Hear and Learn the Words of the Novus Ordo" - Audio CD and Book by Marion P. Smedberg - copyright 2006.

    As indicated by the title, the book is designed for the "Novus Ordo" or "Ordinary Form", and it seems that the vernacular translations have not been updated to the current usage.

    However, there has been no need to update the Latin or Greek words or their pronunciation in the Mass.

    You can find more information about this facility online, and there is a downloadable PDF version which can be printed out. (Sorry, I can't help with the audio CD.).
  • RachelR
    Posts: 33
    Potentially a helpful resource for scholas/choirs and those interested in learning Ecclesiastical Latin in general:
    Thanked by 1smvanroode
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 797
    Clickable link:

    Great resource btw!
    Thanked by 2RachelR marymezzo
  • Yes! I am learning ecclesiastical Latin on my own and have found that link very helpful. I also really like "A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin" by John F. Collins (CUA 1985).