(1.) This term is applied to that portion of the Liturgy of the Roman and other churches in which simple melodies, usually consisting of but four or five notes, are sung by the officiating priest, with responses from the choir or the congregation. These date their origin from the earliest period of the Christian Church, and are thought by some to have been originally ancient pagan melodies adapted to Christian worship.
(2.) It is also, and more usually, applied to hymn tunes of a slow and majestic or pathetic movement, as "Old Hundred," the "Judgment Hymn," and "Mear." The Germans call all psalm tunes chorals, but they always retain the original slow movement, and all the voices join in the melody, the organ giving the accompaniment. In many Protestant countries all the four parts are sung in chorals as well as in other hymn tunes. For a historical development of choral singing, SEE MUSIC (HISTORY OF).