Chancel (Lat. cancelli, from cancer, a lattice), in modern usage, part of a church set off from the rest by a railing. SEE CANCELLUS. Modern French writers use the word cancel in its original sense of a lattice or screen, as they apply it to the screen (transenna) which separates the choir or side chapels from the nave or main body of the church. In English Protestant churches the term chancel is applied mostly to that part of the smaller churches cut off from the nave by the cancel, or, rather, the railing where formerly the cancel stood. The original term choir (q.v.) is retained in the larger churches and cathedrals. The chancel is reserved for the use of the clergy in the administration of their offices during divine service. In the German churches the term "kanzel" is applied to the pulpit, which projects from the side of a gallery, that all in the church may easily hear.
"By the rubric of the Church of England before the Common Prayer, it is ordained that" the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past, "that is to say, distinguished from the body of the church in manner aforesaid; against which distinction Bucer and bishop Hooper (at the time of the Reformation) inveighed vehemently, as tending only to magnify the priesthood; but though the king and the Parliament yielded so far as to allow the daily service to be read in the bode of the church, if the ordinary thought fit, yet they would not suffer the chancel to be taken away or altered." See Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 8, ch. 3; Hook, Church Dictionary, s.v.; Guericke, Manual of Antiquities, p. 104 (Engl. transl.).