The Choirmaster's Manual/Chapter 7



To a stranger the service of the Church as sung and said by many choirs is wholly unintelligible; the common fault is the saying of the responses, etc., too quickly, on the reciting-note especially, owing to the inertia of the muscles of the tongue and mouth. In the Gloria Patri we hear, "Glorybe t'the Father-ran' t'the Son," or "Glory be to + Father." Further, "As 'twas beginning," or, "As it was in + beginning." Which is just the elision of little words, or the running of one word into another. All words should be said or sung distinctly, in no case should words be so gabbled that it is impossible to use the tongue quickly enough to form clean consonants. It is a good plan to slightly accent the word "in" in "As it was IN the beginning."

All words such as "may," "day," "say," "night," etc., must be finished without any upward movement of the jaw, otherwise "mayee," "dayee," "sayee," "ni-eet," will be the result. All the regular church responses should be carefully gone through with regard to pronunciation, and with a little care one would not so often hear the responses to the litany: "Web 'seach Thee t'yeerus;" "Good Lor' dliverus."

We can hardly exaggerate the effect of a consonant, unless it be "s" or "f," and such diphthongs as "ch" and "sh." Nevertheless, the final consonant of a word or syllable must never be heard unless the very end of the value of the note is reached on the vowel-sound. The shaded parts in the squares of the following example will give some idea of the proportionate value of the Consonants to the Vowels.

\relative d' { \time 4/4 \partial 4
  d4 | b'2 a | g2. fis4 | e e e e | e^>( d) \bar ".." }
\addlyrics { In -- cline Thine ear, in -- cline Thine ear to me. }
I ncl I nth I n E r I incl I nth I n E r t O me E

Notwithstanding the remark about the rolling of "r's," where a word ends with an "r" immediately followed by a word commencing with a vowel, the "r" must be clearly rolled—clear of the following vowel,—and a special little "attack" made on the following vowel.

Incline Thine ear-r, incline Thine ear to me.


Incline Thine earincline.

Glory be to the Father..r, And to the Son.


Glory be to the Fatherand to the Son.

Care must also be taken in the pronunciation of such words as fire: "FI′re," not "fyer." Also when one word ends with a letter that the v next commences with, special pains must be taken to pronounce both.

The people that trust in Thee,

Often sounds

The people tha' trust in Thee.

"R's" may be rolled at the commencement of a word, seldom at the end.