An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A non-metrical song used in liturgical worship. Canticles are drawn from biblical texts other than the Psalter. The term is derived from the Latin canticulum, a “little song.” In practice, canticles are sung or said in worship. The BCP provides contemporary and traditional language canticles. Contemporary language canticles may be used in traditional language services and vice versa. Many canticles are traditionally known by the opening words (incipit) of the canticle in Latin versions of the Bible or service books, such as the Benedictus Dominus Deus (Canticle 16, BCP, p. 92). The BCP provides a Table of Canticles suggested for use at Morning and Evening Prayer (pp. 144-145). Canticles serve as responses to the readings at the services of the Daily Office. Canticles may also be used at the Burial of the Dead after the OT and NT readings, at the Holy Eucharist on certain occasions as an alternative to the psalm appointed, at the Easter Vigil after certain OT readings in the liturgy of the word, in the Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families, and after the Bible reading in the Order for Evening.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.