• Latin: canticum, song


In the Divine Office, a sacred chant or prayer from Scripture apart from the Psalms, to which it bears a resemblance, however, in structure and poetic form. Scriptural canticles have found a place in the Office from the earliest times. The present Roman Breviary contains 14 canticles from the Old Testament arranged for use at Lauds throughout the week, supplying the place of the fourth Psalm:

Audite caeli, quae loquor.
Give ear, O ye heavens.
Canticle of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:1-43, Saturday at Lauds (II).
Audite verbum Domini, Gentes.
Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations.
Canticle of Jeremias, Jeremias 31:10-14, Thursday at Lauds (I).
Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, Domino.
O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord.
Canticle of the Three Children, Daniel 3:57-88 and 56, Sunday at Laud. (I).
Benedictus es, Domine, Deus Israel patris nostri.
Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of Israel, Our Father.
Canticle of David, 1 Par., 29:10-13. Monday at Lauds (I).
Benedictus es, Domine, Deus patrum nostrorum.
Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers.
Canticle of the Three Children, Daniel 3:52-57. Sunday at Lauds (II). In Lent.
Cantemus Domino: gloriose enim magnificatus est.
Let us sing unto the Lord: for He hath triumphed gloriously.
Canticle of Moses, Exodus 15:1-19. Thursday at Laud. (II).
Confitebor tibi, Domine, quoniam iratus es mihi.
I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, for Thou wast angry with me.
Canticle of Isaias, Isaias 12:1- 6. Monday at Lauds (II).
Domine, audivi auditionem tuam.
O Lord, I have heard Thy speech.
Canticle of Habacuc, Habacuc 3:2-19. Friday at Lauds (II).
Ego dixi: In dimidio dierum meorum.
I said: In the midst of my days.
Canticle of Ezechias, Isaias 88:10-20. Wednesday at Lauds (II).
Exsultavit cor meum in Domino.
My heart rejoiceth in the Lord.
Canticle of Anna, 1 Kings, 2:1-10. Wednesday at Lauds (II).
Hymnum cantemus Domino.
Let us sing a hymn to the Lord
Canticle of Judith, Judith 16:15-21. Wednesday at Lauds Lord. (I)
Magnus es, Domine, in aeternum;
Thou art great, O Lord, forever
Canticle of Tobias, Tobias 13:1-10. Tuesday at Lauds (I).
Miserere nostri, Deus omnium, et respice nos.
Have mercy upon us, O God of all, and behold us.
Canticle of Ecclesiasticus, Ecclesiasticus 36:1-16, Saturday at Lauds (I).
Vere tu es Deus absconditus.
Verily Thou art a hidden God.
Canticle of Isaias, Isaias 45:15-26. Friday at Lauds (I).

The Breviary also contains three canticles from the New Testament, the Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis, respectively recited each day at Lauds, Vespers, and Compline:

Benedictus Dominus, Deus Israel
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.
Canticle of Zachary.
Luke, 1:68-79.
At Lauds, daily throughout the year.
Magnificat anima mea Dominum.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
Canticle of the Blessed Virgin, Luke 1:46-55.
At Vespers daily throughout the year.
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine.
Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord.
Canticle of Simeon, Luke 2:29-32.
At Compline daily throughout the year.
On 2 February, Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin or Candlemas, at the blessing of the candles.
Tract in Mass of the feast when it follows Septuagesima.

The Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis are called the “evangelical canticles,” since they are taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke. In addition to these seventeen canticles the Roman Breviary also includes under canticles the “Quicumque vult salvus esse” or Creed of Saint Athanasius (Psalter, Sunday, at Prime). There are many canticles in Scripture besides the ones mentioned above. The “Te Deum,” formerly included among the canticles in the Roman Breviary, is now placed among the hymns. The “Gloria in excelsis,” the “Trisagion,” and the “Gloria Patri” (the Lesser Doxology) have at times been added to these by different writers. The Greek Office uses thirteen canticles differently arranged than those in the Roman Office. The term canticle is applied variously in Protestant churches.

MLA Citation

  • “canticle”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 June 2010. Web. 4 December 2021. <>