Please note on the following sheet music that I’ve created a phonetic pronunciation guide below the bass line. It’s in blue. As it happens, the Latin vowels A, E, I, O, and U are the pure sounds we want to use in most of our singing. The beautiful thing in Latin is that the vowel sounds NEVER vary. They are as follows:
- The letter A is pronounced as in Ah (father)
- E is pronounced as the eh in the slang meh (bed). It’s the short e sound, and in the phonetics below, I signify it with an EH, as in the first word, veni.
- I is pronounced with this “long E” sound, as we say it in debris. (There is no short I sound in Latin.)
- O is always the long O sound, as in Rambo, or Oh.
- U is always the long U sound, as in bamboo.
- When two vowels are used together, each is sounded in sequence. See measure 13, for example. Gaude is is pronounced Gah-oo-deh, with the ah sliding smoothly into the oo.
NOTE: This is Ecclesiastical Latin (or “Church Latin”), and is different from Classical Latin pronunciations. Here’s a great comparison that involves a famous quote from Julius Caesar, the first word of which is also the first word in the text of this song:
Classical Latin: Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.)
Pronounced wehnee, weedee, weekee.
Ecclesiastical Latin: Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.)
Pronounced vehnee, veedee, veekee.