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

  • n. A musical composition for voices and orchestra, telling a sacred story without costumes, scenery, or dramatic action.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A musical composition on a religious theme; similar to opera but with no costume, scenery or acting.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A more or less dramatic text or poem, founded on some Scripture nerrative, or great divine event, elaborately set to music, in recitative, arias, grand choruses, etc., to be sung with an orchestral accompaniment, but without action, scenery, or costume, although the oratorio grew out of the Mysteries and the Miracle and Passion plays, which were acted.
  • n. Performance or rendering of such a composition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A place of worship; a chapel; an oratory.
  • n. A form of extended musical composition, more or less dramatic in character, based upon a religious (or occasionally a heroic) theme, and intended to be performed without dramatic action and scenery.
  • n. The words or text of an oratorio; an oratorio libretto.

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

  • n. a musical composition for voices and orchestra based on a religious text


Italian, after Oratorio, the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri at Rome, where famous musical services were held in the 16th century.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian oratorio ("oratorical"). (Wiktionary)



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