(from Lat. canticulum, diminutive of canticum: ‘song’)
A designation for hymns in the scriptures apart from the psalms; it is sometimes applied loosely to the Te Deum and other non-scriptural texts as well as to certain psalms, particularly in the Anglican rite.
Canticles are similar to psalms in form and content and several appear in various Christian rites. Biblical canticles are often referred to as ‘Psalms outside the Psalter’. In the Old Testament there are a number of such hymns, a few of which were used by the Jews both in the Temple and in the Synagogue rites. The most prominent were the Song of Moses (Exodus xv.1–19) and the Hymn of the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace (Daniel iii.57–88 in the Apocrypha). The Greek term in the Septuagint for such songs is ōdē (from adō: ‘to sing’). Of the New Testament canticles, it seems likely that some are new versions, maybe only slightly reworked, of earlier Jewish or Jewish-Christian material, the latter most probably consisting of hymns or psalmic compositions; the original versions, presumably in Hebrew or Aramaic, are lost and cannot now be reconstructed with certainty. Three New Testament canticles are used daily in the Roman rite: ...