Singing fail

I invented a new English diphthong in choir practice this morning. We were rehearsing Psalm 15, which lists some good behaviour which a good person does, and some bad behaviour which a good person doesn’t. The last verse is: ‘Whoso doeth these things shall never fall’. (For some reason, we were singing the translation of the Psalms by Miles Coverdale in 1538, as included in the Book of Common Prayer 1662.) At the rehearsal yesterday, someone sang fail, which makes sense in terms of both pronunciation and meaning. I made made a mental note to sing fall, but at the rehearsal this morning sang fail then changed mid-vowel to fall, thus singing /feɪɔl/ (is that actually a triphthong?). I was standing right in the centre of the choir, and the conductor was looking straight at me, so there was no place to hide. I wrote fall in very big letters on the page, and in the service sang it correctly. (I decided that if I sang fail in the service, I would stay on it – 31 other singers and an organist would have drowned me out.)

Sometimes a pronunciation mistake changes the meaning. Elsewhere in the psalm, it praises ‘He that setteth not by himself, but is lowly in his own eyes’. In the rehearsal, I sang lonely.

I thought that maybe the modern translation we usually sing uses fail, but it doesn’t – it uses ‘shall never be moved’. In fact, none of the English translations on Bible Gateway  uses fail. Instead there’s a choice of (sorted into approximate groups):

shall never be moved 19

will never be moved 2

never will be moved

is not moved to the age

will never be shaken 9

will not be shaken

shall never be shaken 3

will never be destroyed 3

will never stumble

will never be upended

‘ll never get blacklisted

will always be secure 2

will stand firm forever 2

shall stand firm forever

will always stand firm

will always stand strong

(I briefly thought about analysing all of those, but decided not to. The options are clear.)


2 thoughts on “Singing fail

  1. If I’d known that I would have tested her out last Friday. How did your language school go? I looked at Monash’s linguistics subjects today. Too much choice, but maybe they’re not all offered every semester.


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