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date: 14 April 2021


  • John Harper,
  • Peter Le Huray,
  • Ralph T. Daniel
  •  and John Ogasapian


A choral setting of a religious or moral text in English, generally designed for liturgical performance. See also National anthems .

John Harper

In the Middle Ages the term derived from and was synonymous with Antiphon . After the Reformation the term denotes a polyphonic setting of a sacred English text, normally sung by the choir after the collects at Matins and Evensong; the text is freely chosen, most often from the Bible (especially the psalms) or from the Book of Common Prayer. The connection between Latin antiphon sung within the Office and English anthem sung as an appendage to Matins or Evensong is found in the Commemoration, Memoiral or Suffrage in which the antiphon was the most important musical element. In the medieval liturgy a Commemoration, Memorial or Suffrage was often appended to the main Office (e.g. Lauds or Vespers); this observance normally consisted of Benedictus or Magnificat antiphon, versicle and response, and collect – effectively a truncated Office commemorating an intention additional to the main Office (e.g. the saints, the dead, or a saint remembered on that day but not taking precedence in the main Office; see ...

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P. Le Huray: Music and the Reformation in England, 1549-1660 (London, 1967, 2/1978)
Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association
Oxford, Bodleian Library
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London, British Library
Music & Letters