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The Canticles

The word Canticle means "little song" or "little chant," just as
versicle means "little verse," and particle "little part."

It has long been used to signify the Hymns from the Old and New
Testaments which were introduced into the Christian Services.

It will be seen that these Bible hymns are affixed {63} to the Lessons.
They are commonly known by the words with which they begin in Latin:

Te Deum laudamus=Thee God we praise.

Benedicite, omnia Opera--Bless ye, O all Works.


Jubilate=O be joyful.

Magnificat (mea anima)=(My soul) doth magnify.

Cantate Domino=O sing unto the Lord.

Nunc dimittis=Now thou lettest depart.

Deus misereatur=God be merciful.

The 1st and 2nd chapters of S. Luke supply three of these; viz.
Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc dimittis. The Psalms supply three,
viz. Jubilate (100th), Cantate Domino (98th), and Deus misereatur

Benedicite, omnia, Opera is part of the Hymn given in the Apocrypha
as sung by Shadrach (Ananias), Meshach (Misael), and Abed-nego
(Azarias), when they walked in the burning fiery furnace.

Te Deum laudamus is a very ancient Latin Hymn which may have been
already very old when it became associated with the name of S. Ambrose,
Bishop of Milan (375-397). We show its Bible origins in Chapter VIII.

The Canticles have been sung in the Services for many centuries.

Benedictus and Benedicite are found in the Holy Communion
Service--supposed to date about 600--of the Gallican Church; in the Day
Hours Benedictus was sung at Lauds; Magnificat at Vespers; Nunc
dimittis at Compline; Te Deum at Mattin-Lauds; Benedicite and
Jubilate at Lauds on Sundays.


The rearrangement of the Day Hours in 1549 gave an opportunity to
associate the Canticles more closely with the Lessons.

We show in another chapter the connection which exists between the
Lessons of the Old and New Testaments, and the alternative Canticles
provided for each, both at Morning and Evening Prayer.

Meanwhile it will be well to learn the following table.

Next: Map Of The Lessons And Their Canticles

Previous: Hymns In The Daily Services

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