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Either or Either - That is the Question

I realize in various dialects and sections of America, the word "either" has at least two different pronunciations. Sometimes it is pronounced with a long "e,” and sometimes with a long “i.” Which pronunciation is preferred when singing with choral groups? When song leading for congregational singing, is the same pronunciation desired, or does that vary depending on which part of America the congregation is? For example, in a place where the word is spoken with a long “e,” should we gently teach the congregation to sing with a long “i” or maybe vice versa.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Replies (3): Threaded | Chronological
on January 10, 2016 6:16am
I wouldn't worry about how the congregation pronounces it, nor, for that matter, any of the other other performance details that the choir works out in rehearsal . The congregation will follow the lead of the organ and choir. In choral works of a more or less classical style, or one using Elizabethan English, the long I pronunciation of "either" (or, of course, "neither," as in the recit preceding "He was despised") is appropriate. For folk-based or contemporary style, the long E form is fine. In other words, use what seems the most natural for the text and musical style.
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on January 11, 2016 5:16am
Is the broadway tune entitled Friendship - eeether - IIIther -let's call whole thing off?  I applaud Jared for caring about text and Anthony for offering good advice.  All I have to add is a thought about pleasing people.  This is a lose-lose situation because half of the audience or congregation will favor the pronunciation you don't choose, or if you think positively, favor the pronunciation you choose.  Or, on the positive side, this is a win-win situation if you - no-no-no, it can't be a win-win decision.  Now I realize I don't have a good suggestion other than to say "let's call the whole thing off."  Jared- I admire your desire to seek help on issues such as this.  Be assured, I respect whatever you decide for your situation.
on January 12, 2016 8:16am
I've heard that the word was always pronounced eeither until the mid 19th C. Queen Victoria married German Prince Albert who pronounced the word as if it were German, eyether. Courtiers began to say the word as he did and the practice practice spead, but it began as an affectation.
As Anthony said, I'd be inclined to use the eyether pronounciation in traditional texts (i.e King James etc.) and the eether one with popular ones.
In congregational singing those reading the words will just do whatever they want anyway.
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