Lipman’s comment on yesterday’s blog and the document he linked to, together with emails received, suggest that it would be helpful to go a bit further on the school pronunciation of Latin.
Jason Nedecky writes
Having sung a lot under BrE choral directors here at the Anglican Church of Canada, I have become somewhat accustomed to [anglicized Latin]; I am thinking particularly of those canticles of the Book of Common Prayer adopted for Mattins: the "Benedicite" [ˌbɛ nɪ ˈdaɪ sə tɪ], the "Jubilate Deo" [ˌʤuː bɪ ˈlɑː teɪ ˈdeɪ əʊ], the "Venite" [və ˈnaɪ tɪ], the "Te Deum" [ˈtiː dɪəm], and so on.
The other day, I was watching a documentary on the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, in which the famous anthem "I was glad," set by Parry contains that passage of "Vivat!" acclamations, adopted and Anglicised on that momentous occasion, as, from what I can hear: [ˈvaɪ væt ɹɪ ˈʤaɪ nə ɪ ˌlɪ zɪ ˈbeɪ θə].
The canticle names Jason cites are actually a mixture. Yes, at school we called the Benedicite ˌbenɪˈdaɪsəti (see LPD), but as a Latin word meaning ‘bless (ye)!’ we would have said ˌbenɪˈdiːkɪteɪ.
The Westminster School document referred to by Lipman describes the way English was pronounced in English schools up to about 1900. This way of pronouncing Latin derives from the reformed pronunciation introduced by Erasmus and his followers five hundred years ago. While this Erasmian reform removed some anomalies, its timing was unfortunate.
The advantages of the new pronunciation in England were soon to be diminished by an accident of linguistic history. For the reforms came at a time when the extensive changes from the Middle English to Modern English vowel system were still incomplete; and so any reforms in Latin or Greek pronunciation underwent these changes… the Latin vowels ā, ī, ē, for example, became diphthongs as in English name, wine, seen.
[Allen, Vox Latina, App. "The pronunciation of Latin in England"]
That is why we have aɪ rather than iː in the penultimate syllables of Benedicite and Venite as names of canticles, and similarly in hundreds of Latin loanwords in English, from appendicitis to virus.
Around 1870, however, a new reformed pronunciation was formulated by various Cambridge and Oxford scholars, and by the early twentieth century had spread to most British schools teaching Latin (though Westminster was a notorious exception). By the time I learnt Latin, then, the English Great Vowel Shift had been undone as far as English Latin was concerned (though we still continued to pronounce Latin entirely in English sounds). From the earlier ˈvaɪvæt rɪˈdʒaɪnə for vivat regina we had switched to ˈviːvæt reˈɡiːnə (and some brave souls even said ˈwiːwæt).
The earlier pronunciation has persisted in proper names and assimilated words, but has generally given way to the newly reformed pronunciation in actual Latin phrases and sentences.
Before 1870 I assume the Jubilate would have been called the ˌdʒuːbɪˈleɪti. In this case, however, for some reason the twentieth-century reforms have won out, and we all now say -ˈlɑːti (though we may hesitate between j- and dʒ-).
In my first year of Greek at school we still pronounced Greek with GVS-shifted vowels: so for example Μοῦσα ‘a Muse’ was ˈmaʊsə and τί ‘what’ was taɪ. But in my second year we switched to the newly reformed pronunciation and from then on said ˈmuːsə and tɪ.
With the influence of Catholic, Italianate pronunciation, Benedicite can now also be heard as ˌbeneˈdiːtʃiteɪ. But not in Anglican schools and churches.