Singing in Korean

Sometime about the beginning of November, my wife arranged with the conductor of her church choir that I could join them to sing in a cantata on Christmas Day. (My church choir is singing at a very early service, and I just can’t get there in time.) I have been attending Sunday afternoon rehearsals for about six weeks, and learning the words by myself on the train. The music is straightforward enough, but the words are entirely in Korean. I’ve sung (actually performed) in other languages before; lots of Latin, some German and French, a sprinkling of Italian, Spanish and Welsh, one movement of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms in Hebrew and all of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers in Russian. As far as I can remember, the words for the Bernstein were given in transliteration, but the words for the Rachmaninoff were in Cyrillic and transliteration. (Hebrew is written right-to-left, and would not naturally fit into in a musical score. I have seen a hymn in Arabic for Arabic-speaking Christians, and the whole score is reversed.)

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rest eternal and light perpetual

When I was drafting my previous post, I realised that I wasn’t sure about the exact wording of the funeral/memorial sentence Rest eternal rest grant (unto) them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine (up)on them.

The Latin original is Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Latin adjectives standardly follow the noun they modify (though word order in Latin is relatively free), so requiem (rest) aeternum (eternal) and lux (light) perpetua (perpetual). I searched online for an English translation. About half said rest eternal and light perpetual, and half said eternal rest and perpetual light. English adjectives standardly precede the noun they modify, but can follow them in certain circumstances, one of which is to produce an air of formality, perhaps because of the echo of Latin. (From a brief browse, no source switches word order mid-way: rest eternal and perpetual light or eternal rest and light perpetual.)

I noticed that the sources which use rest eternal and light perpetual tend to be Anglican/Episcopalian, and those which use eternal rest and perpetual light tend to be Roman Catholic. In fact, the Wikipedia article about this prayer says that Lutherans use the noun-adj order and Methodists use the adj-noun. I’m not sure what conclusion, if any, we can draw from that.

One of the many choral settings of the Latin.

shall pt 2

After posting about shall yesterday, I noticed it several times during the church service this morning. Looking at everything again on the train home, it became apparent that the earlier sources (two 19th century hymns and a congregational response based on a bible verse) used shall exclusively and the later sources (a 20th century translation (or two) of the bible – I’m not sure which one(s) we use) used will, regardless of I/we v you/she/he/it/they and simple v strong intention.

The hymns were:

And those who put their trust in thee / Nor death nor hell shall harm


I shall not fear the battle / If thou art by my side
O Jesus thou hast promised … That where thou art in glory / There shall thy servant be

The congregational response is:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

This is based on Matthew 8:8, where a Roman centurion says:

Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed. (KJV)

Bible Hub has 25 versions; 16 use will and 9 (apparently the more traditionally based ones) use shall.

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Dydd gŵyl Dewi Sant hapus!

Today is the 1st of March (at least where I’m sitting, but not where WordPress’s clock/calendar is located), which is commemorated in some parts of the Christian Church as St David’s day. It is a date of some significance in our family. This year it falls on Wednesday, indeed on Ash Wednesday, which is commemorated in most parts of the Christian Church. This is coincidental, as Ash Wednesday, which is linked to the lunar calendar calculation of Easter, can fall anywhere between 4 February and 10 March. 1 March 2006 also fell on a Wednesday, which is not surprising, as the calendar repeats every 11 + 11 + 6 years. 1 March 2006 was also Ash Wednesday, which is surprising, as the date of Easter jumps around the calendar seemingly randomly. (If there is a pattern, it certainly plays out over longer periods than 11 years.)

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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.)

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This afternoon, my only native English-speaking colleague for some reason mentioned the word antidisestablishmentarianism. I commented that I had never encountered it actually being used, as opposed to being cited as a very long word (which it is) or the longest word in English (which it isn’t).

The Church of England was established as the state church in 1558, with Queen Elizabeth as the supreme governor (so much for Henry VIII ‘founding his own church’!). At various times, most notably in the mid-19th century, there have been calls for its disestablishment, or the removal of this privileged position and link with the Crown. This has been opposed by antidisestablishmentarians, who epoused antidisestablishmentarianism and argued antidisestablishmentarianistically (though possibly some of them were only pseudo-antidisestablishmentarian and others quasi-pseudo-antidisestablishmentarian.) The Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1871.

The free version of the Oxford Dictionary states ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism is very occasionally found in genuine use’ but doesn’t give citations. Google Ngrams shows that the first use of the word was in 1915. The Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920, after which the word grew in use. The British National Corpus does not record it at all.

I offer a lifetime subscription to this blog to anyone who can provide a example of antidisestablishmentarism (or any of its derivatives) actually being used (or a citation from the full OED).

Best Church

On my travels  I have seen a number of churches named ‘(location) 제일 교회’ (je-il gyo-hoe [hway], best church). This seems a remarkable statement for a church (that is, the people) to make, and for the life of me, I  can’t think that any church in any English-speaking country would call themselves that.  But there is a complication. My student dictionary also translates 제일 as ‘first, most’. ‘The most church’ doesn’t make sense, but ‘The first church’ (to be established in that location) does.

An online search for ‘best church’ found a large number of websites devoted to ‘the best church website designs’, some photo-lists of ‘the most extraordinary’ or ‘most famous  churches’ (the buildings) and several discussions of ‘what is the best church for you?’. After a brief look, I couldn’t find any English-speaking church called ‘Best Church’. By comparison, a search for ‘제일 교회‘ shows at least four ‘best’ or ‘first’ churches in my city alone.