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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term anthem means either a specific form of Anglican church music (in music theory and religious contexts), or more generally, a song (or composition) of celebration, usually acting as a symbol for a distinct group of people, as in the term "national anthem" or "sports anthem".



The word is derived from the Greek ἀντίφωνα (antiphōna) via Old English antefn, a word which originally had the same meaning as antiphon.

Anthems and the church

An anthem is a form of church music, particularly in the service of the Church of England, in which it is appointed by the rubrics to follow the third collect at both morning and evening prayer. Several anthems are included in the British coronation service. The words are selected from Holy Scripture or in some cases from the Liturgy, and the music is generally more elaborate and varied than that of psalm or hymn tunes. Though the anthem of the Church of England is analogous to the motet of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches, both being written for a trained choir and not for the congregation, it is as a musical form essentially English in its origin and development.

The anthem developed as a replacement for the Catholic "votive antiphon" commonly sung as an appendix to the main office to the Blessed Virgin Mary or other saints. Although anthems were written in the Elizabethan period by Tallis (1505-1585), Byrd (1539-1623), and others, they are not mentioned in the Book of Common Prayer until 1662, when the famous rubric "In quires and places where they sing here followeth the Anthem" first appears.

In common usage among many Protestant churches, an "anthem" often refers to any short sacred choral work presented during the course of a worship service. In the context of an Anglican service, an "anthem" is a composition to an English religious text. From this widening usage has come the more modern sense of the word.

Music theory

Early anthems tended to be simple and homophonic in texture, in order that the words could be clearly heard. Late in the sixteenth century the "verse anthem", in which passages for solo voices alternated with passages for full choir, began to evolve. This became the dominant form in the Restoration period, when composers such as Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and John Blow (1649-1708) wrote elaborate examples for the Chapel Royal with orchestral accompaniment. In the nineteenth century Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) wrote anthems influenced by contemporary oratorio which could stretch to several movements and last twenty minutes or longer. Later in the same century, Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) composed examples which used symphonic techniques to produce a more concise and unified structure.

Many anthems have been produced since this time, generally by organists rather than professional composers and often in a conservative style. Major composers have tended to compose anthems in response to commissions and for special occasions. Examples include Edward Elgar's Great is the Lord (1912) and Give unto the Lord (1914) (both with orchestral accompaniment), Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb (1943) (a modern example of a multi-movement anthem and today heard mainly as a concert piece), and, on a much smaller scale, Ralph Vaughan Williams' O taste and see (1952) (written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II). With the relaxation of the rule, in England at least, that anthems should be only in English, the repertoire has been greatly enhanced by the addition of many works from the Latin repertoire.

Modern use

The word "anthem" is commonly used to describe a celebratory song or composition for a distinct group, as in the term "national anthem". Many pop songs are used as anthems, such as Queen's "We are the Champions", which is commonly used as a sports anthem. The term "anthemic" is a modern word coined to describe music with an emotive connotation to it.

See also

The following is a list of articles on anthems:

Notable anthems:



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Anthem is a large unincorporated community, built by Del Webb homes, in Greater Phoenix, Arizona. It is usually known as Anthem, Arizona.

  • Anthem Outlets, Located on the NORTHWEST CORNER of I-17 and Anthem Way Exit 229, [1]. Home to many of your favorite outlet stores. Anthem Outlets also offers a food court and playground for the kids.  edit
  • Hampton Inn Hotel, Next to I-17, [2].  edit
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Source material

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From Wikisource

by Ayn Rand
Anthem is a dystopian, science-fiction novella written by Ayn Rand in 1937 and first published in 1938. It celebrates man's independent spirit and condemns collectivism.
— Excerpted from Anthem (novella) on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.


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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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From ecclesiastical Latin antiphona. Compare antiphon.


  • IPA: /ˈænθəm/




anthem (plural anthems)

  1. (archaic) Antiphon.
  2. A choral or vocal composition, often with a religious or political even atheist lyric [1].
    The school's anthem sang of its many outstanding qualities, and it was hard to keep a straight face while singing.
  3. A hymn of praise or loyalty.
    The choir sang a selection of Christmas anthems at the service just before the big day.
  4. (informal) A very popular song or track.
    • 2003, Peter Buckley, The rough guide to rock
      In May 2000, they even finally cracked the UK top ten when they teamed up with Paul Van Dyk on the trance anthem "The Riddle"...

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


Simple English

An anthem is a piece of music written for a choir to sing at an Anglican church service. The difference between an anthem and a motet is that an anthem is sung in English. Also most anthems are accompanied by an organ.

The word “anthem” has come to mean “a song of celebration”. This is why we also talk about National Anthems.

Anthems for the church have been composed ever since King Henry VIII argued with the Pope and did not want to be Roman Catholic any more. He founded (started) the English Anglican church. Church composers were told to write music in English. The words usually come from the Bible. We know that as early as 1502 the composer Fayrfax was paid 20 shillings for composing an anthem. After the Reformation many anthems were composed. At first they were like motets, but in English. Soon the English anthem developed differently from the continental motet. Two kinds of anthem developed: the “Full Anthem” in which the whole anthem was sung by the full choir, and the “Verse Anthem” which was usually longer and had several verses which would be sung by soloists, with choruses for the full choir in between.

Almost every music director of cathedrals or large churches has written anthems. A few of the most famous composers of anthems are:

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) William Byrd (1543-1623) Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) Henry Purcell (1659-1695) George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) William Boyce (1710-1779) Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) Edward Bairstow (1874-1946) William H.Harris (1883-1973) Herbert Howells (1892-1983) William Mathias (1934-1992) John Tavener (b.1944) John Rutter (b.1945)


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