Latin: cantus, singing
1) A vocal melody belonging to a liturgical office, forming an intimate, often an integral part of it. A liturgical chant differs from sacred music, since the latter adorns an office without absolutely belonging to it. Liturgical chants are monodic, usually diatonic, and, in form, they vary from the simplest musical recitation of a text to the most elaborate and expressive melodies. See also
- Ambrosian chant
- Gregorian chant
- plain chant
2) An incantation used by primitive races to cure disease, to placate the gods, to charm beasts, and to affect the weather. Rhythm and repetition were essential to these magic chants.