pange lingua


I have some pronounciation questions in the third verse of the Pange Lingua…

In supremae nocte cenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.

The question on the first involves proper spelling and pronounciation as I have seen it written as coenae. I have heard it pronounced both koh-nay (long o) and chay-nay.

The other three are basically questions about the c and g pronounciation.

I have done a bit of looking around and have found differing pronounciation guides.

Thank you.


*coena *is an alternative spelling of cena, but it is much less frequent, in my experience. Similarly *caelum / coelum *(sky, heaven), with the former being more frequent in Classical Latin; pretty even split in Ecclesiastical (again: In my experience). (However I have never seen **celum *for sky)

Do you want to pronounce in the restored Classical? Pronounce both ‘c’ and ‘g’ hard (‘c’ like ‘k’; ‘g’ as in “God”) also: Pronounce ‘v’ like ‘w’.

Do you want to pronounce Eccleasiastically? These 'c’s and ‘g’ are soft (‘c’ as English ‘ch’ in “church”; ‘g’ like English ‘j’; ‘v’ like English ‘v’). Some other 'c’s and 'g’s are hard – Pretty much the same rule as English, but some extra conditions too , eg the soft ‘c’ of caelum / coelum.



I forgot to mention: “chay-nay” is Eccleasiastical pronunciation (and the pronunciation of *coenae *and *cenae *is identical). “koh-nay” (long o) is illiterate (or some uncommon regional pronunciation) – The restored Classical pronunciation of *coenae * would be “koy-nigh” [rhymes with: “toy fly”] (the restored Classical *cenae * would be “kay-nigh” [rhymes with: “say hi”]).







This is how our schola sings it.


Keep in mind the Pange Lingua is sung - so the musical pronunciation is used - which is always the Ecclesiastical pronunciation. It would be wrong to use the philological/classical pronunciation in any musical setting.


Is there also a difference in the pronounciation of “t” in a word depending on whether it is classical or ecclesiatical?

Ex: gratia



C (like the C in Cenae) could be pronounced Ch, or Ts- depending on where you are from. People whose native language is German tend to pronounce this consonant as TS. Most everyone else pronounces it CH.

In the same way, G is pronounced hard if the native language of the people speaking it is German. It is pronounced soft in most other cases. Sometimes when it is followed by an N, it has a NY sound, and sometimes (more often in Germanic countries) both consonants are pronounced (like it is in the English word “signal”)

Both of the vowel sounds in “coenae”, the “oe” vowel and the “ae” vowels, are similar to short E sounds- but a little more closed (leaning to a long A sound) than the E in “egg”. The sound is actually somewhere in between a long A and a short E sound. (unfortunately I find very few who follow the rule of pronunciation)


No, I think that one stays the same…it is pronounced as a TS…there are other sounds (anything that would be pronounced CH in Ecclesiastical- or Roman Latin is pronounced TS in Germanic- or Classical Latin) that have the TS sound in Classical Latin, but what is pronounced TS in Ecclesiastical Latin is the same in Classical Latin


I believe it is correct that *ti *is pronounced the same in restored Classical or Ecclesiastical Latin, but it is incorrect to say unqualified that it is pronounced as ‘tsi’ or ‘tzi’. It is pronounced so only when followed by a vowel; when followed by a consonant it is pronounced as ‘ti’.
*]*gratia *-- “grah-tsee-ah”; not: “grah-tee-ah”
*]*Latinus *-- “lah-tee-noos”; not: “lah-tsee-noos”



In sung ecclesiatical Latin, it is my understanding that vowels are always long–in other words, it is pronounced differently depending on whether it is sung or not. In this case, I think it is more chay-nay than cheh-nay, and lay-jay. Interestingly enough, you do it that way with the i’s, just not with the e’s.

I have just completed four years in the Christendom College schola whose pronuntiation is monitored by the head of the Classics department (which uses ecclesiatical Latin rather than Classical).


…Never ask an American to pronounce Ecclesiastical latin.
In all recordings of Americans singing or speaking Latin, their horrid accents always wriggle their ways back into the speech.

You are to speak and sing latin as you would Italian.
Do not, under any circumstances, speak it with that horrid accent.
If you hear watch a Papal Mass, he doesn’t have his German accent when he celebrates. He speaks it with an Italian accent.

If, however, you cannot alter your accent, I’ll forgive you…


I take exception to your remarks. As a cradle Catholic (an old one! :wink: ), I know my Latin very well, have had 4 years of it in a Catholic high school and 2 more in a Catholic college, could probably ‘say’ the Mass, myself, even after all these years, and pronounce it just fine, thank you…:cool:

You might be surprised how many of us pre-Vatican II (Latin in the total sense) Catholics there are out here…


You mean say, Cardinal Egan, who was a contemporenous oral translator at the Vatican. Bet his accent is terrible - NOT.

Sure many Americans have bad accents - many do for French and German and Russian, etc., etc. But by no means do all Americans - many who have perfectly good accents. I might note that many Europeans have terrible English accents - ees dat not true? Yes, is true, darlink" - as well as terrible accents in other languages. If you want to say many people have terrible “foreign” accents, you are right. If you limit it to Americans, then I fear there is a drop of Anti-Americanism at work.


Please stay on topic, people. Thanks.


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