(910 words)

1. Terminology

The word “anthem” denotes a genre of English  vocal music. Its terminological roots go back to the medieval practice of antiphonal (responsive) chanting, especially of  psalm verses or their refrains. In the Catholic liturgy,  antiphon means just such a refrain. The Old English form of Greek antíphōnos was antefn, which became Middle English antym or antem and finally anthem.

For centuries the English words “antiphon” and “anthem” were used synonymously, but…

Cite this page
Heldt, Guido, “Anthem”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 24 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

▲   Back to top   ▲