Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Have you ever noticed that the Book of Common Prayer provides texts for a number of poems that don't look like hymns, and yet they also aren't psalms? These are called canticles. A canticle is a biblical song other than the psalms. The term also sometimes refers to a well known hymns of the early church. Here are the biblical references for the BCP canticles:
Canticles mandated for Daily Prayer
Canticle of Zechariah or Benedictus (Luke 1.68-79): Morning Prayer
Canticle of Mary or Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55): Evening Prayer
Canticle of Simeon or Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2.29-32): Close of Day

Other Canticles / Biblical Songs
Glory to God or Gloria in Excelsis (Luke 2.14, with additional material)
Canticle of Miriam and Moses (Exod. 15.1-2, 11, 13, 17-18)
God’s Chosen One (Isa. 1.1-4, 6, 9)
The Desert Shall Blossom (Isa. 35.1-2, 5-6, 10)
Canticle of Thanksgiving or First Song of Isaiah (Isa. 12.2-6)
Seek the Lord or Second Song of Isaiah (Isa. 55.6-11)
The New Jerusalem or Third Song of Isaiah (Isa. 60.1-3, 18-19)
The Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 61.1-3, 10-11)
Canticle of Hannah (1 Sam. 2.1-4, 7-8; cf. Magnificat)
Canticle of David (1 Chr. 29.10-13)
The Steadfast Love of the Lord (Lam. 3.22-26)
A Canticle to the Lamb (Rev. 4.11, 5.9-10, 12-13)
Canticle of the Redeemed (Rev. 15.3-4)
A Canticle for Pentecost (John 14.16, 16.13a, 14.26; Acts 2.2, 4a; Rom. 8.26; Joel 2.28)
A Canticle of Love (1 John 4.7, 8; 1 Cor. 13.4-10, 12-13)
Christ, the Head of Creation (Col. 1.15-20)
Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2.5c-11)

Deuterocanonical Songs from Scripture
Canticle of Judith (Judith 16.13-15)
A Canticle of Creation (Song of Three Young Men 35-65, 34)
A Canticle of Penitence (Manasseh 1-2, 4, 6-7a, 11, 13c-15)

Other Ancient Hymns, Not From Scripture
Hymn to Christ the Light or Phos Hilaron: Evening Prayer
We Praise You, O God or Te Deum Laudamus

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