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Pronunciation, Church Latin

by Arne

I'm singing in a choir which sings a lot of Latin church music. For the moment we're rehearsing Bach's mass in B minor. The choir is Norwegian, and although the pronunciation varies a lot between countries, I hope you can help me a bit.

From time to time I have small fights with the conductor about pronunciation issues. He claims to prefer Italian style pronunciation, but in my opinion he makes quite a few errors.

My actual question is about the verbs "ascendere", "suscipere" and others, or more precisely, the digraph "sc", which according to the conductor shall be pronounced with an initial T sound, like the sound of "chips".

Is there any support for at all, in any flavour of church Latin, for a pronunciation of the digraph "sc" commencing with a plosive T? Being rather interested in the particular matter of church Latin pronunciation I have done some literature look-ups, but I have found absolutely no support for the initial plosive. All flavours that I know of have an initial, undisputably fricative, S sound. And the Italian pronunciation is, of course, like in "ash".

With the T, wouldn't e.g. "ascendere" then be confused with "accendere"? I pointed out to the conductor that "atshendit in coelum" probably would mean something like "Christ lit up a fire in heaven", which of course might be given a good theological interpretation in se, but it wouldn't exactly hit bulls-eye in the Apostles' Creed.

Dear Arne,

I'm with you on this one, although I have no experience singing in Latin. I've also never told a conductor how to proceed conducting his own choir. In my experience, however, ascendere is pronounced either askendere in classical Latin or ashendere in ecclesiatical Latin.

You are right.



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