Definition of antiphon in English:



  • 1(in traditional Western Christian liturgy) a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle.

    • ‘Evening Prayer II for August 15 features this antiphon: ‘The Virgin Mary was taken up to the heavenly bridal chamber where the King of kings is seated on a starry throne.’’
    • ‘Traditionally sung as an antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin, Rubbra places it directly after the account of Christ's appearance to Mary Magdalene in the garden.’
    • ‘Norbert sang the antiphons and censed the sanctuary - I felt as though I was moving about in a dark room where strange figures brushed up against my shoulders, and strange voices guided me along.’
    • ‘On the day I saw the exhibit, this hand-copied book was open to the Magnificat antiphon for Vespers on Septuagesima Sunday.’
    • ‘One of the antiphons for Aunemund's liturgy at Saint-Nizier makes such a move.’
    • ‘Fair coverage, would include, not just the antipodes singing their antiphons of dissent, but a much fuller range of opinions and perspectives.’
    • ‘Much less attention was paid, for example, to his polychoral works (including masses, psalms, antiphons, and sequences), some of which stand apart from the better-known pieces through such aspects as their greater rhythmic animation.’
    • ‘Prime refers to the Divine Office, the regimen of worship separated into daily ‘hours’ - those psalms, canticles, hymns, responsories, antiphons, and so on, distinct from the mass.’
    • ‘The far-travelling bishop, kings-kin, and his priests arrayed in white and purple-royal sang antiphons as we neared the church.’
    • ‘For each Psalm an antiphon is given as a recurring theme phrase to be sung by the choir or the people.’
    • ‘So the choir and the procession of ministers would be accompanied by the singing of, in this instance a Gregorian chant, interestingly in this particular chant, what we have in fact is the antiphon, from the Book of Wisdom.’
    • ‘many conservative Catholics mumble the antiphon at Mass and let the words roll off them like water off a duck's back.’
    • ‘Light plays a key role throughout the altarpiece, and the word's absence perhaps explains why there is no text from the antiphon at all in Daret's Nativity.’
    • ‘Carla Gottlieb years ago identified the text along the edge of Mary's garment in two of the four panels, the Visitation and the Presentation in the Temple, as from a Marian antiphon sung at the Feast of the Purification.’
    • ‘The way the monks moved echoed the antiphons of the psalms themselves.’
    • ‘In this almost totally integrated work, Monteverdi included five vesper psalm settings along with solo motets which he used as substitutes for the antiphons which would normally have been chanted between the psalms.’
    • ‘His comment on the hymn itself traces its wording to several passages of Revelation and notes how the antiphon relates the hymn to the Eucharistic banquet of which it is a part.’
    • ‘From these he inwardly confected a honey of antiphons, responsories, hymns, and other items pertaining to the Office and stored it in the hive of his wax tablets.’
    • ‘This is reflected in the choice of prayers, psalms, versicles, and antiphons.’
    • ‘The need for supportive materials would be endless: composing music for the psalm antiphons, choral settings for verses and offertories, organ pieces based on the new hymnic and liturgical music, and music for the Easter Vigil.’
    1. 1.1A musical setting of an antiphon.
      • ‘Consequently, my favorite pieces are the ones where Evett lets himself go: What an Attractive Thing Is Judgment and the Marian antiphons.’
      • ‘The votive antiphon had been the jewel in the crown of English composition for many decades before Tallis's first essays in the form, but in Gaude gloriosa he significantly expanded it.’
      • ‘Their contribution begins in a soft, seemingly random and disjointed way, with two of the players sharing a kind of aleatoric antiphon.’
      • ‘Well Rachael, the antiphons were rather free melodies that were sung.’
      • ‘Since this antiphon is the only composition thus far attributed to the daughter of Ioannes Kladas, it serves as the only source of style for the composer.’
      • ‘De Angelis is based on an antiphon by Hildegard of Bingen, a composer Hatzis admires greatly not just for her music but also for her theology.’
      • ‘The Cecilian Vespers are comprised of five psalm settings with their accompanying antiphons.’
      • ‘Early Elizabethan anthems were modelled on the Latin antiphon or motet, but they cautiously followed the queen's injunction by being largely syllabic, with a minimum of counterpoint.’
      • ‘The newer work was commissioned for a concert of music derived from a Gregorian antiphon imploring the Lord for peace now, not later, ‘because there is no one else who will fight for us, if not You, our God.’’
      • ‘He was looking inwards, which meant he didn't need to write 4O-voice motets, or antiphons which last 20 minutes.’


Late Middle English: via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek antiphōna harmonies, neuter plural of antiphōnos responsive, from anti in return + phōnē sound.