Definition of precentor in English:

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Pronunciation: /prɪˈsɛntə/


1A person who leads a congregation in its singing or (in a synagogue) prayers.
Example sentences
  • He explains that his wife's grandfather was a Gaelic precentor who led the singing of the psalms in Skye.
  • Synagogues began… to appoint official precentors, part of whose duty it was to compose poetical additions to the liturgy on special Sabbaths and festivals.
  • Line-singing is an ancient form of worship where a precentor, or leader, sings the first line of a psalm and the congregation responds, finishing off the verse.
1.1A minor canon who administers the musical life of a cathedral.
Example sentences
  • Exeter's was built in 1286 by the cathedral dean as an act of amends for his alleged involvement in the murder of his deputy, the cathedral precentor three years earlier.
  • For instance, Linacre, the personal physician of Henry VIII, had the been rector of four parishes, a canon at three cathedrals and precentor at York Minster.
  • In the English dissenting churches and the Presbyterian churches of Scotland, which until the later 19th century had no organs, the precentor was an important official.



Pronunciation: /prɪˈsɛnt/
Example sentences
  • Surveying the black and white faces in Sprague Hall at Yale University in Connecticut is the music teacher who precents the line at Back Free Church on Lewis each week, thousands of miles away.
  • He says ‘precenting the line’ - the traditional unaccompanied singing of psalms in Gaelic in the Presbyterian churches in the Hebrides - is one of the predecessors of ‘lining out’, still practised in black churches in the South.
  • Today metrical psalms, sung slowly, ornamentally and with precenting, are used only in Gaelic services in Presbyterian churches, and only in the Western Isles on a regular basis.




Early 17th century: from French précenteur or Latin praecentor, from praecent- 'sung before', from the verb praecinere, from prae 'before' + canere 'sing'.

Words that rhyme with precentor

assenter, cementer, centre (US center), concentre (US concenter), dissenter, enter, eventer, fermenter (US fermentor), fomenter, frequenter, inventor, lamenter, magenta, placenta, polenta, presenter, preventer, repenter, tenter, tormentor

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre|cent¦or

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