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Music Items - A Glossary

A selection of musical words and items used in Anglican Church music:

Anthem
An item sung by the choir that is not part of the liturgical service. Usually set to a bibical text.
Canticles
'A hymn or song from a bibical text'. Sung during the 'office' services (ie: not Eucharist), they form major items of the choral parts of the service. See Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (Evensong), and Venite, Te Deum and Jubilate (Mattins).
Hymn
'A song of praise to God'. Usually sung with the congregation. There are many hymnals (books of hymns), such as 'Ancient and Modern (revised)', 'English Hymnal', etc.
Introit
An item sung by the choir before the start of the service. Sometimes from 'off-stage'.
Jubilate Deo
'O be joyful in the Lord' - Psalm 100. A canticle sung at Mattins.
Magnificat
Also known as 'The Song of Mary' on hearing that she would be the Mother of Christ. Taken from The Gospel according to Luke chapter 1, verses 46 to 55. Sung during Evensong and part of the ancient office of Vespers.
Mass Setting
This is the set of music sung at the Eucharist service. It consists of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.
Nunc Dimittis
Also known as 'The Song of Simeon' as the old man recognised the Christ Child in the Temple. Taken from The Gospel according to Luke chapter 2, verses 29 to 32. Sung during Evensong and part of the ancient office of Compline.
Preces and Responses
A dialogue between the precentor and the choir.
Processional
Any item sung whilst processing to/from the choir stalls.
Psalms
'A sacred song' - in the Anglican tradition these are the biblical Psalms of David. The most common are those set in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), translated by Miles Coverdale, and renowned for their use of the English language.
Te Deum Laudamus
'We praise thee, O God' - a hymn of praise to God. Sung as a canticle at Mattins.
Venite, exultemus Domino
'O Come, let us sing unto the Lord' - psalm 95. Sung as a canticle at Mattins.
Voluntary
Usually refers to the item the organist plays at the end of the service. Should be considered as part of the service - listen, don't chat!

Last updated on Wednesday, 3rd December 2008
Copyright © 1999 - 2004, John Watkins - portions copyright © Richard Bloomfield.