Definition of antiphon in English:


Line breaks: anti|phon
Pronunciation: /ˈantɪf(ə)n


  • 1(In traditional Western Christian liturgy) a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle.
    More example sentences
    • The way the monks moved echoed the antiphons of the psalms themselves.
    • For each Psalm an antiphon is given as a recurring theme phrase to be sung by the choir or the people.
    • From these he inwardly confected a honey of antiphons, responsories, hymns, and other items pertaining to the Office and stored it in the hive of his wax tablets.
  • 1.1A musical setting of an antiphon.
    More example sentences
    • Early Elizabethan anthems were modelled on the Latin antiphon or motet, but they cautiously followed the queen's injunction by being largely syllabic, with a minimum of counterpoint.
    • He was looking inwards, which meant he didn't need to write 4O-voice motets, or antiphons which last 20 minutes.
    • The newer work was commissioned for a concert of music derived from a Gregorian antiphon imploring the Lord for peace now, not later, ‘because there is no one else who will fight for us, if not You, our God.’


late Middle English: via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek antiphōna 'harmonies', neuter plural of antiphōnos 'responsive', from anti 'in return' + phōnē 'sound'.

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