Antiphon

Antiphon (from ἀντί, in turn, and φωνή, a sound), the singing or chanting of one portion of a choir in reply to another when the psalms are sung or chanted. In the "responsorium" the verse is spoken only by one person on either side, or by one person on one side, though by many on the other; whereas, in antiphony, the verses are sung by the two parts of the choir alternately. Antiphonal singing is supposed to have been brought into use in the Western Church by Ambrose, who, about the year 374, is said to have introduced it into the Church of Milan, in imitation of the Eastern Church, where it appears to have been of greater antiquity, though as to the time of its institution authors are not agreed. The chanting of the psalms in this antiphonal manner was practiced by the Hebrews; and some of these were actually composed in alternate verses, with a view to their being used in a responsive manner. In the English Church, where there is no choir, the reading of the Psalter is divided between the minister and the people; and in the cathedral service the psalms are chanted throughout, two full choirs being provided, stationed one on each side of the church. One of these, having chanted one of the verses, remains silent while the opposite choir replies in the verse succeeding; and at the end of the psalm the Gloria Patri is sung by the united choirs, accompanied by the organ. — Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes bk. 14, ch. 1, § 11. SEE ANTHEM.

 
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