Introduction to the Sounds of Ecclesiastical Latin

In the following table you will find the sounds of sung Ecclesiastical or "Church" Latin, as they are represented in International Phonetic Alphabet and their ASCII Equivalents, along with sample words. It is important to note that sung Latin is not pronounced exactly like "book" or "Classical" Latin.

IPA Symbol ASCII Equivalent Example Word
Pure Vowels
i /i/ Christe
ɛ /E/ meus
ɑ /A/ tua
ɔ /o/ tollis
u /u/ nunc
j /j/ ejus
w /w/ quam
b /b/ nobis
d /d/ domine
f /f/ fili
g /g/ gloria
gz /gz/ exaudi
ʤ /dZ/ regina
k /k/ sicut
ks /ks/ lux
/kS/ excelsis
l /l/ laudate
m /m/ magnificat
n /n/ bonae
ɲ /n;/ agnus
p /p/ pacem
r /r/ morte
s /s/ sanctus
ʃ /S/ suscipe
t /t/ tuo
ʦ /ts/ gratia
ʧ /tS/ pacem
v /v/ virgo
dz /dz/ Lazarus


Note 1: In sung Latin, the diphthongs "ae" and "oe" are both pronounced as [ɛ]. An exception occurs if a vowel has a diaersis (double dots). All other diphthongs are pronounced phonetically as written.

Note 2: Double consonants in Latin are sustained or performed as "stop consonants."

Note 3: Watch out for the unusual pronunciation of the words "mihi" /miki/ and "nihil" /nikil/. /h/ is otherwise silent in Latin.

Note 4: In some works, conductors and coaches request singers to use "German Latin" pronunciation. There are only a few differences between this and standard Ecclesiastic Latin pronunciation.