I think it's Robert Shaw who wrote his choir arrangements with a self-pronouncing "translation" under the words - syllables showing how the words are actually pronounced.  Thus "God Almighty" would show Gah-----dah---mai--tee under the corresponding normal syllables, using standard choir pronunciations.  Fairly crude, since the English language is so subtle that many sounds cannot truly be represented, especially in their length or accentuation.  But helpful.

Hoh--lieh,  hoh-lieh,  hoh-lieh!   Leuh-----dGah-----dahMai--- tee!

Uhh - lee ih(n) dthah moh-----neen-gah sohn---gshae  rai----ztu Dthieh!

That's the first two lines of "Holy, Holy, Holy" sung with correct American pronunciation.  We then take these syllables and let our brain adjust their intensity, duration, accent and tone -- and presto, we get meaning!

Just as in written translation, our intent can get lost in the translation.  "Beauty is truth, and truth, beauty", wrote Keats.  Singers really fall for this proverb, because they want tone and expression.  Their audience wants beautiful sound and emotional impact.  For the singer to try to produce such beauty, it begins in the head.

What we hear in our heads is the whole song.  When I sing "Holy Holy Holy" I see the heavens opening, the great starry chandeliers, the incense smoke, winged seraphim fluttering down to place their crowns on the altar.  Every word is plain...   to me.

"uhLOVE y'LOHHHH"     That's a fairly standard pronunciation of "I love you, Lord."  The singer assumes the audience knows what that syllable-group means.  Does it?   I'm OK; are you OK?

Songwriters - do you create syllable formations that are difficult or impossible to express meaningfully? Worship leaders - do you adjust the way you sing to get both beauty and truth?  Pronunciation is only a reality - and reality is only a part, a subset of truth.  Is truth in the way we sing?  

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I love yellow?

;-)

There's a Matt Redman song that drives me nuts, where he sings mag nee fee cernt instead of magnificent. Aaarrrggghhhhh! Wish someone could re-do the pronunciation for that song. :-)

At first I thought, "yellow?"  Then y'lohhhhh hit me.  It seems there is no English vowel which correctly represents the sung "oh".  "O" serves double-duty as the O-micron, the "little O" made with rounded mouth (the "O" of "Lord"), which the wiser Greeks divorced from the O-mega, the "big O", made with rounded lips, and becomes "oo" if you extend it.  Now there are Americans who will pronounce Lord "Lud", or "Load", or something quite close to those, and yet another using the "a" that has two little dots over it and I can't use on this site because the control key takes me to another part of the computer.  So I forced my readers to kind of guess at what I meant (I suppose that reinforces the point).  I must hear Matt Redman sing that song.  But at least his words generally register, and the background typically works well with his subject matter.  Mag nee fee cernt.  Then again, I've been listening to my OWN singing, and are there ever places where I must have imagined the consonant happening when it actually didn't.

There are occasions when I wish this site had a *like* button.

Greg Moore said:

At first I thought, "yellow?"  Then y'lohhhhh hit me.  It seems there is no English vowel which correctly represents the sung "oh".  "O" serves double-duty as the O-micron, the "little O" made with rounded mouth (the "O" of "Lord"), which the wiser Greeks divorced from the O-mega, the "big O", made with rounded lips, and becomes "oo" if you extend it.  Now there are Americans who will pronounce Lord "Lud", or "Load", or something quite close to those, and yet another using the "a" that has two little dots over it and I can't use on this site because the control key takes me to another part of the computer.  So I forced my readers to kind of guess at what I meant (I suppose that reinforces the point).  I must hear Matt Redman sing that song.  But at least his words generally register, and the background typically works well with his subject matter.  Mag nee fee cernt.  Then again, I've been listening to my OWN singing, and are there ever places where I must have imagined the consonant happening when it actually didn't.

I've heard a Casting Crowns song on the radio a bunch of times and it still sounds like in the 

chorus he's singing   "We were made to fry"!

For hundreds of years, opera-goers have bought a libretto, which is the words to the opera, because in the process of making those gorgeous theatre-filling sounds they obliterate most of the consonants and change a lot of the vowels to "ah", because it sounds better than "ee."

Perhaps we're just taking the same tack.  Popular Christian music is becoming more operatic, the singers powering out room-filling technique and complicated runs.  Since we have the overhead projection as our libretto, maybe we're where we want to be:)

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