How to pronounce Bethlehem in Adeste Fideles?
  • How should one pronounce Bethlehem in the Latin hymn Adeste Fideles? Does your choir pronounce it in English even though singing it in Latin? Originally it is a Hebrew word.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 522
    Bet-leh-[ehm
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,800
    Salieri

    That reminds me of the arrangement from a generation ago by the inimitable Joel Cohen and the Boston Camerata:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5rwe5p0k5k

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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,884
    Given the hymn's provenance, there is also a case for θ.
  • True, but then you would have to sing Adestay fidayless, latey triumph anties, Venighty, Venighty, in Bethlehem.
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • Andrew,

    Wouldn't it be wenn-nightie?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,884
    On a tangent, how do most of you deal with Hagios O Theos?
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,523
    @Richard Mix Our classics scholar demands we pronounce it in a greek style, our former director of music demanded a latin style. Most people could not tell the difference! Anyway the last couple of years no comment has been made, I suspect that we are singing something in between!
  • madorganist
    Posts: 522
    A tangent indeed, but I'll play along. Pronounce it like modern Greek, i.e. exactly how it's sung on Mt. Athos: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wTjrQThnhmk
    Italianate ecclesiastical Latin and modern Greek are the only legitimate pronunciations for Catholic liturgical use in English-speaking countries. There was an earlier discussion about liturgical Greek on this forum: https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/15213/pronunciation-of-greek-in-gregorian-chant/p1
    If you're performing a concert or making a recording, do whatever you deem to be historically appropriate for the musical composition, but for the Mass, better to stick with the Roman style.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,884
    Italianate ecclesiastical Latin and modern Greek are the only legitimate pronunciations for Catholic liturgical use in English-speaking countries.
    Both propositions seem pretty dubious, and whatever "modern Greek" might be it's not always clear to me that's what the transliterations in the Roman books are aiming at. Thanks though, the two previous threads seem to have covered a lot of ground.
  • jcr
    Posts: 45
    we frequently entangle ourselves in a web of futility when we become too nit picky about "authenticity" in the performance of music or in the pronunciation of languages no longer spoken or at least not in the archaic form before us. I was reminded by a wonderful musicology professor that being too fastidious about recreating an "authentic" performance may just be an exercise in pedantry. He pointed out that the difficulty is made greater by the fact that there are no "authentic" audiences!

    I don't wish to discourage respect for composer, historical period, regional performance practice, etc. But, it does see a bit silly to intentionally mispronounce church Latin in a performance of a Mozart Mass because they did it in Salzburg in Mozart's day.
  • Just as silly is to mispronounce ecclesiastical Latin with phonemes found in no Romance language or Italian, as is often found in North America. Whether it's the absurdly wet plosives or completely uncoordinated and unrounded vowels lifted from American English, many make a caricature of the language by adhering hard-line to their distorted idea of what it should be (just like the HIP crew when their phrasing becomes too clipped and their instruments too rickety, and a complete mockery is made)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,800
    Imagining a chorus of Patsy Cline wannabees singing chant and polyphony. ...each individually mic'd.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    But, it does see a bit silly to intentionally mispronounce church Latin in a performance of a Mozart Mass because they did it in Salzburg in Mozart's day.

    However, some of that "mispronunciation" is actually the way Germans and others (like the Poles) still, to this day, pronounce Latin--and it's not a "Protestant" thing. I have two people in my choir who are off-the-boat Polish, one emigrated in the 1980s, the other in the 2000s, and they both (along with many of the older people, children of immigrants, that are still alive and still remember the old ways and the old Mass) say "Ah-Gnoos Dei, Kvee tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis Pah-tsem.", AND say that the Italianate pronunciation sounds silly---particularly because they cannot discern a clear distinction between Agnus (Ah-nyoos) Dei, and Anus (Ah-noos) Dei, and to be honest, the way the most people pronounce Agnus does end up sounding like their saying Anus--so, in deference to my parish's Polish heritage, I have my choir pronounce the G in Agnus. (I also have them sing Io as Eye-oh, when we sing "Ding-dong merrily".)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,846
    "Eye-oh"? Sounding like the Seven Dwarfs? Horrible!
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    "Eye-oh" for Io is the West Pondelian English rendering ... of a West Pondelian English text, so it doesn't bother me a bit (in fact, I prefer it!). Since moving back to the Midwest, I've had to deal with the pronunciation "Montisello" for towns around here named, presumably, for Thomas Jefferson's home "Monticello" (Virginia) - and for which, Mr Jefferson insisted upon the Italianate pronunciation "Montichello" ... oh well!!
  • Chuck,

    Then there's always the town in Kentucky which is pronounced fer -sales . (Versailles).
    Or, in southern Illinois, Kay-ro. (Cairo)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    I know Cairo, IL very well, although the pronunciation is closer to Karo (as in Karo Syrup). And don't forget about Byew-nuh Vista, a.k.a. Buena Vista, VA .. not to mention Stanton (but spelled Staunton), VA.