Definition of canticle in English:


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  • 1A hymn or chant, typically with a biblical text, forming a regular part of a church service.

    ‘Subtitled ‘Overture on Liturgical Themes,’ it is based on the Obikhod, a collection of Russian Orthodox canticles, biblical texts, and hymns.’
    • ‘Everything necessary for daily observance is here: church season prayers, saints' days, canticles, selected psalms, and a 30-day cycle of New Testament readings.’
    • ‘The formal part of the wedding (the vows and rings) came first, and the usual particulars of evensong followed - Rose responses, a psalm to Anglican chant, Gibbons Second Service canticles, and a few hymns.’
    • ‘I also vividly remember attending the BBC Symphony Orchestra premieres of Stravinsky's Requiem canticles and Boulez's Eclat, in which she took a leading part.’
    • ‘The composer not only utilises the biblical canticle attributed to Mary but the text is also made up of the poem, ‘Of a Rose, a lovely Rose’ and at its conclusion we come across the ‘Sancta Maria’.’
    • ‘At St Anne's in neighbouring Strathfield he responded to Anglican ‘matins and evensong, the canticles, the psalms, the hymns, the Bible readings’, and became a choirboy.’
    • ‘The four daily services are based very closely on The Book of Common Prayer, with psalms and canticles wisely chosen from the breadth of the whole tradition.’
    • ‘Much less well educated than the lay society at Thagaste, which broke up on Augustine's departure, the Hippo brothers daily chanted the Psalter and biblical canticles.’
    • ‘The last canticle we sang every night was the Magnificat, the hymn of praise that Mary sang when Gabriel announced to her that she would bear a son who would redeem Israel at last.’
    • ‘Not long after the war was born a desire in Howells to compose settings of the Anglican canticles, the first of which was the wondrously beautiful Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for King's College, Cambridge.’
    • ‘In a psalter the Psalms are often preceded by a calendar and contain ancillary texts such as canticles, creeds, a litany of saints, and other individual prayers, hymns, and occasionally even the hours of the Virgin.’
    • ‘An antiphon usually refers to a syllabic setting of a brief Scriptural text sung before and after a psalm or canticle.’
    • ‘Themes of emigration, pilgrimage, diaspora, exile and new homelands are woven into the psalms and canticles.’
    • ‘Earlier in the chapter, Hannah recites a canticle not unlike Mary's as she praises God for Samuel and offers him to God.’
    • ‘The final two canticles set texts by TS Eliot: The Journey of the Magi and The Death of Saint Narcissus.’
    • ‘The whole liturgy is sung, the characteristic deep Russian bass of the priest alternating with canticles by the choir.’
    • ‘The Song of Simeon is the third of the poetic songs or canticles that Luke has included in the first two chapters of his Gospel.’
    • ‘Only a few of the twenty-one canticles have been found to be useful by pastors and church musicians.’
    • ‘In Mary's canticle, Luke records a text that, like Zechariah's, has little to do with the surrounding text.’
    • ‘They are often based on the Bible but, unlike canticles such as the ‘Magnificat’ or ‘Nunc Dimittis’, they are not settings of biblical texts.’
  • 2

    (also Canticles, Canticle of Canticles)
    another name for Song of Songs (especially in the Vulgate Bible)



/ˈkan(t)ək(ə)l/ /ˈkæn(t)ək(ə)l/


Middle English from Latin canticulum ‘little song’, diminutive of canticum, from canere ‘sing’.