Monday, December 18, 2006

Middle English pronunciations of Britten's Ceremony of Carols

Last night I sang in a concert with the Ebor singers. The first half was mostly Benjamin Britten's well-loved Ceremony of Carols, and the second half was assorted seasonal pieces, interspersed with the Advent ("Big O") Antiphons (O sapientia et al.). It was all quite effective, and very enjoyable. My biggest contribution was working out the approximate Middle English pronunciations of the poems used in the Ceremony of Carols. Here is what I came up with. (The document is in three-column format, with the texts on the left, the glosses in the middle, and a phonetic pronunciation on the right.) Others are welcome to use it; please just drop me an e-mail to let me know if it was useful to you. I drew on my (sketchy) prior experience with Middle English, and also a Google search, which yielded several webpages of which the most concise and helpful was at .

Updated April 3 2012 with a link to a google document version of the text. Use at will, and let me know how it works out for you.


Emery said...

Hi Rachel, I hope you're still there! The link to your pronunciation chart is dead - to you still have it? If so, can you email it to me? THANKS!

Rachel said...

Hi Emery...I don't have any contact info for you.

Miguel said...

Do you happen to have the pronunciation chart? My contact info: labregom at email dot chop dot edu

(I spelled out my email in order to avoid spam). Thanks!

John Prothero said...

Thank you for the effort of creating a phonetic Medieval English pronunciation chart. I am planning on directing this work later this year, and was hoping not to have to assemble something myself (based on the Robert Shaw recording).

Thor said...

Hi Rachel, I am in a chorus that is working on this right now. It would be wonderful if I could get a copy of your chart. Could you please email it to me?

thor.campbell at gmail .com

take the spaces out and use the @ symbol of course :)


Fred said...

Hi!! My choir in Germany is beginning to work on the Ceremony of Carols. Would you still have your pronunciation chart for it? If yes, would you mind sending it to me please? We have many hesitations and could really do with help :)

My contact: frederiqueandfriends at

Thanks a lot,