Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A song or chant, especially a nonmetrical hymn with words taken from a biblical text other than from the Book of Psalms.
  • n. Bible The Song of Songs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a chant, hymn or song, especially a nonmetrical one, with words from a biblical text

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A song; esp. a little song or hymn.
  • n. The Song of Songs or Song of Solomon, one of the books of the Old Testament.
  • n. A canto or division of a poem.
  • n. A psalm, hymn, or passage from the Bible, arranged for chanting in church service.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of the non-metrical hymns recorded in the Bible as sung on some special occasion, and expressive of joy, thanksgiving, or confidence in God's help.
  • n. One of these hymns, or a composition of similar character, arranged for chanting, and so used in church service.
  • n. Specifically [capitalized] plural The Songs, otherwise called the Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon (LL. Canticum Canticorum Salomonis), one of the books of the Old Testament.
  • n. A division of a song or poem; a canto.
  • n. Any song or hymn, properly one that is brief and simple.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a hymn derived from the Bible

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin canticulum, diminutive of cantus, song, from past participle of canere, to sing; see kan- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin canticulum, diminutive of cantus, song (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This canticle, which is not admitted into the authorized books, is to be found in fragments in the 237th letter of St. Augustine to Bishop Chretius; and, whatever disputes there may have been about its authenticity, it is certain that singing was employed in all religious ceremonies.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • ANNE RICE, AUTHOR: Well, a canticle is a song and it's just a blood song.

    CNN Transcript Nov 16, 2003

  • (Antiphona also means the antiphon of a psalm or canticle, which is of the same form as in the Roman Rite.)

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman

  • A "canticle," you see, is simply a holy love song -- a poem or refrain based on a portion of Scripture not found in the Psalms.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • It seemed anachronistic, out of touch with the mainstream (I actually had to look up "canticle" to see what it meant).

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • It's vague, but I remember really liking it, but in "canticle", the story traverses many eras, and, deals with the theme ultimately of global violence.

    Where did the film THE BOOK OF ELI come from?

  • And her humility, which was never equaled by that of any other woman, did not hinder her from seeing the great things that God had operated in her, as she herself proclaims in that sublime canticle which is the "Magna Charta" of the rights, the prerogatives and the greatness of woman.

    Serious Hours of a Young Lady

  • You may easily discover this, Theotimus; for if this mystical nightingale sing to please God, she will sing the song which she knows to be most grateful to the Divine Providence, but if she sing for the delight which she herself takes in her melodious song, she will not sing the canticle which is most agreeable to the heavenly goodness, but that which she herself likes best, and from which she expects to draw the most contentment.

    Treatise on the Love of God

  • He revenges himself on Fromond, however, by drowning him in the Rhone, and, lifting up his voice, he makes then the valley ring with a "canticle" celebrating his triumph. [

    A Literary History of the English People From the Origins to the Renaissance

  • Mike Resnick's lighthearted "Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz" is really a space western (and thus homage to old space opera) about a freelance hero (Catastrophe Baker) and his quest to find the missing canticle of a play produced by Saul Leibowitz.

    REVIEW: The New Space Opera 2 edited by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan

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