Canticle

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In the Catholic liturgy canticles are scriptural hymns that are not psalms. Verses taken from the New Testament are referred to as Major Canticles; those from the Old Testament Minor Canticles. The three Major Canticles used are Benedictus (at Lauds), Magnificat (at Vespers) and nunc dimittis (at Compline).

In the Anglican liturgy the term is somewhat broader with certain of the psalms considered to be canticles, as is the Te Deum which is not from the Bible.

"The Song of Solomon" is alternatively referred to as “Canticles”. It is in this context that Benjamin Britten wrote his “Five Canticles” for various voices and instruments from disparate but impassioned texts – in effect small cantatas on religious themes – all having some link to “The Song of Solomon”.

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