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Anthem=Antiphon, fr. antiphonon: so called because two choirs sing

Anthems are of two sorts--simple Anthems and compound Anthems. A
simple Anthem is one or more verses (often from Holy Scripture), used
to give character to a Psalm. A compound Anthem is a Hymn or Psalm
followed by a Verse, Respond, and Prayer. A simple Anthem was used,
for example, to give an Easter, Advent, &c. character to Venite.
Thus Dec. 16 is marked in the Calendar as O Sapientia because on that
day the following Anthem was used with Magnificat:

O Wisdom, which camest forth out of the mouth of the Most High, and
reachest from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all
things; Come and teach us the way of prudence.

These words are taken, with some alteration, from Wisd. viii. 1. On
each of the seven days which follow, until Dec. 23, a different Anthem
was used with Magnificat; and forasmuch as these eight Anthems begin
with O (O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, &c.), they were known as the
O Anthems. Similarly on The Epiphany, S. Matth. ii. 1, 2, 11 was sung
as an Antiphon to Magnificat; and on Whitsunday S. John iv. 23. {147}
These are instances of the use of simple Anthems in the Services before
1549. The following illustrates the purpose for which they were
appointed. It will be observed that the Advent thought was made to
pervade the whole Psalm.

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