Lucky Latin

Things To Know OrffSinging activities using “O Fortuna” from Orff’s Carmina Burana.


Singing In Latin

  • Listen to O Fortuna. Can you tell what they’re singing? No, it’s in another language. It’s called Latin and it used be used a lot in churches, and for official documents in lots of European countries. Now you’ll only find it in old songs and poems like this and sometimes in churches.

O fortuna lyrics 3



  • On the left here are the words in the song you’ve just heard:


  • It’s all about luck and how luck changes like the moon, how sometimes luck is on your side in life and sometimes it’s not. It’s also about gambling and how gambling is all about luck, but mostly bad luck and how we tend to always lose more money than we make in gambling. It’s also about good and bad health. The writer of this poem is ill and therefore feels that he is having bad luck in his health.
  • Next, you have to learn how to pronounce this Latin so that you can sing along. It’s basically just as it looks except for these exceptions:
    • A “c” in the middle of a word is pronounced “ts”, but at the end of a word like “nunc” it’s pronounced like a “k”.
    • The vowels “i” and “u” are a bit different to English. “i” is pronounced “ee” and “u” is pronounced “oo”.
    • “aut” is pronounced as in the English “out”.
    • “ch” in “michi” is pronounced like an “h”, so “mihi”.
    • There are no “magic e’s” in Latin so a word like “sine” is not pronounced “sign” but “seenay” – two syllables.


  • So now it’s time to listen to the recording again and learn to pronounce the Latin. While you’re doing this, you’ll automatically learn the rhythm and tune, so then you’ll be able to sing along.

Things To Know Carmina

  • In the third verse the singers get very excited and sing very high – probably too high for us. Just keep singing it at the same pitch but get a bit louder.
  • The last line is a bit tricky too. This is because they sing lots of notes for each syllable.


  • Once you’ve learned the words, tune and rhythm, sing along with the recording.


Tags: ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.