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The name of our choir (Cantica)

Author: Mrs. Myriam Van Lerberghe-Thibaut

Cantica is the plural form of canticum, a word that derives from canere or cantare, what just means 'to sing' (cantare sometimes has the connotation of 'to bewitch').

So Cantica means 'chants', 'hymns' or 'canticles'.

Our word psalm is of Greek origin, and means 'plucking the string', but further also 'song of praise' (accompanied by plucking the zither).

In the Jewish liturgy, in the era BC already, liturgical chants were collected and this way the Book of Psalms has come into being: 150 chants collected and given the name psalm.

But there seem to be some more chants in both Old and New Testament that look like psalms but they are not included in the Book of Psalms. Because they could not have the name psalm, they have come to be called canticum. These canticles have by the old tradition received a fixed place in the Breviary.

In the New Testament there are only three of them: the Benedictus (Canticle of Zachary), the Nunc dimittis (Canticle of Simeon) and the well known Magnificat (Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary), which are sung in the morning and evening prayers (Lauds and Vespers). More canticles out of the Old Testament are present in the Matins (Night Office) and the Lauds.

In the Liturgy of the Mass there are not much canticles to be found. Looking in the Graduale Romanum, page 185, one can find cantica post lectiones, sung during the Easter Vigil after the readings. So one can find at least a few cantica in the Liturgy of the Mass.

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  Mrs. Myriam Van Lerberghe-Thibaut

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