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.

The Apostles' Creed And The Creed Of Irenaeus (ad 170) The Canticles Continued facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail