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Rachmaninov Pronunciation Notes and Translation

The voiced Γ in initial position, transliterated as [gh] for us and whose IPA symbol is [ɣ] (a Latin gamma), is pronounced like an ordinary hard [g] but with a slight extra sound in the back of the throat: see this YouTube video. We have this only once, in No. 6, in the word Господь.

To get ы, transliterated as [ï] and with IPA [ɨ], place your tongue in the position right between the positions of English sounds i in kit and u in sugar. Then make a new sound of ы.

The sound Ш [sh] is made further back in the mouth than in English; that makes it match the ы, as in the word наших at the end of No. 6. (There, the spelling is with an И, but the pronunciation is with an ы.) Similarly, Ж [zh] is further back in the mouth.

Here are three versions of [t]: English, Russian hard, and Russian palatalized (also called "soft"; this should give you the idea of other palatalized consonants as well):

Similarly, the Russian Д [d], Н [n], and Л [l] touch the upper teeth, lower than in English. Thus, Л is more like the English [l] in bill.

Here are some videos not of our music, but homophonic where it is easy to hear all the syllables: No. 1 and No. 6.

Here is a word-for-word translation of the text, using {braces} to indicate when one Church Slavonic word is more than one English word:

No. 1: Come, {let us worship} King our God. Come, {let us worship} and {kneel before} Christ King our God. Come, {let us worship} and {kneel before} himself Christ King and God our. Come, {let us worship} and {kneel before} Him.

No. 6: {O God-bearing} Virgin, rejoice, {full of grace} Mary, {the Lord} {is with} Thee. Blessed {art Thou} among women, and blessed {is the Fruit} {of womb} Thy, for {the Savior} borne {Thou hast} {of souls} our.


No. 1: Приидите, поклонимся Цареви нашему Богу.
Приидите, поклонимся и припадем Христу Цареви нашему Богу.
Приидите, поклонимся и припадем самому Христу Цареви и Богу нашему.
Приидите, поклонимся и припадем Ему.

No. 6: Богородице Дево, радуйся,
Благодатная Марие, Господь с Тобою,
Благословенна Ты в женах
и благословен плод чрева Твоего,
яко Спаса родила еси душ наших

The most important word is Бог [Bog], which means “God”. It is inflected as Богу and is the start of the word Богородице, which ends with the word for giving birth, used later in родила. To help you recognize Бог, remember this: