Minor Canon

Minor Canon is the name frequently applied to a petty canon, petty prebendary, or sub- canon:

(1.) A vicar in priest's orders in the old foundations; a representative and auxiliary who celebrated at the high altar in the absence of a canon. Generally there were four, occasionally as many as eight. In most cases they were the vicars of the four dignitaries. In the Romish Church of England the word designated in some instances the prebendaries who were in minor orders, and at York a major canon was one who had kept the greater residence. At St. Paul's they form a college, instituted in 1395, over and above the thirty vicars. The latter sung the matin and lady mass, but the minor canons chanted the mass of requiem for their founder, as well as the apostles' and high or chapter masses, being required in addition to attend all the hours. All were priests under a superior, called a warden. Their almoner looked after the choristers. The two cardinals, who had a doubled stipend, were parish priests of the close. They furnished the librarian, subdean, succentor, and divinity lecturer, and the perpetual gospeller and epistoler. In 1378 they wore surplices, dark almuces of calaba, lined with minever, with a black cope and hood, trimmed with silk or linen.

(2.) A subordinate or stipendiary priest, appointed by the dean and chapter in the new foundations; and by the original constitution the number equalled that of the canons, and the stipend half that of the latter. They had a share in the quotidian. In the time of Charles I their numbers were reduced. They had no estates of their own, and lived in a common hall, along with the schoolmasters, lay singers, and choristers. Minor canons are removable by the dean and chapter, and are now choral substitutes of the canons resideptiary, officiating in turn, under, their authority, jointly with the dean. See Walcott, Sacred Archeology, s.v.; Staunton, Eccles. Dict. s.v. SEE CANON, ECCLESIASTICAL.

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