from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A melody or song, particularly ecclesiastical.
  • n. The principal voice.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A song or melody; especially, an ecclesiastical melody or style of music.
  • n. Plain-song in particular.
  • n. A musical rendering of a liturgy, as contrasted with mere reading.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Consequently, the term cantus is not to be limited to songs which are really sung and set to melodies, but can be applied as well to every religious lyrical poem which can be sung and set to music.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability

  • The highest category of what he termed the cantus song or composition was the Mass, immediately followed by compositions on other sacred texts, these including the psalm, the Magnificat and the hymn; these genres were separate from the Mass, but were still part of the liturgy.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • On the other hand the expression cantus in Saint Augustine's definition must be extended.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability

  • This method of chant was known as the cantus responsorius, and is mentioned in the writings of Tertullian, St. Augustine, and St. Isidore.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • Cantus-firmus writing is rarer in Lassus than in Palestrina, but on occasion Lassus could revert to the kind of cantus-firmus procedure used by Josquin and Obrecht; Homo cum in honore esset six voices; published 1566 has a soggetto cavato as cantus firmus on the text ‘Nosce te ipsum’, heard successively in breves, semibreves and minims.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • In the upper part, however, the treble is substituted for the "cantus" or

    Notes and Queries, Number 16, February 16, 1850

  • In the upper part, however, the treble is substituted for the "cantus" or "medius" cliff: and the whole work is so arranged as to suit the library of the musical student, and to be fit for use in the Choir.

    Notes and Queries, Number 03, November 17, 1849

  • What I mean is that God wants us to love him eternally with our whole hearts - not in such a way as to injure or weaken our earthly love, but to provide a kind of cantus firmus to which the other melodies of life provide the counterpoint.

    The Scriptorium Daily: Middlebrow

  • With these composers' pieces as a template, three improvisations in baroque style opened the concert: a freewheeling fantasia, a set of variations on a cantus firmus and a dizzying rendition of a ground bass pattern.


  • Falling chronologically between Carter's first two string quartets, it's not completely off-base to hear the Sonata as Carter-lite, the polyrhythms and simultaneous tempi squared off into simpler subdivisions, as in the first movement, with the harpsichord ticking off a stately, out-of-time chorale-prelude cantus firmus.

    Magna Carter (5): Role modeling


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.