Wednesday, November 10, 2010




: a leader of the singing of a choir or congregation

According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, in ancient Catholic history the PRECENTOR did a lot more than lead the choir. Other responsibilities included: intoned antiphons, psalms, hymns, and responsories on Sundays and feast days; gave the pitch to the bishop at mass; recruited and taught the choir; interpreted rubrics; composed hymns, sequences, and lessons of saints; oversaw acolytes, exorcists, lectors, and psalmists; and held a place near to the bishop in dignity.

That's quite a resume.

When I search the internet for the responsibilities of the modern PRECENTOR, I keep landing on a quote from the Bishop of Dijon:

The Precenteur or Grand Chantre is the head of the choir and... brings the antiphon to the bishop when officiating pontifically. Sacristans, chanters, choir-boys, and employes of the Cathedral are placed under his surveillance. He will also preserve order and silence in the sacristy.

Every reference I located introduces this quote as an example that "serves to illustrate the modern idea of the office of PRECENTOR." So, I suppose this is the end-all-be-all of modern PRECENTORDOM.

The Bishop of Dijon holes up in the Dijon Cathedral, a Roman Catholic diocese in Dijon, Burgundy, France. The bishop, of course, has nothing to do with mustard. The region, however, is famous for its spicy relish. The Amora mustard factory opened in Dijon in 1911, producing Amora and Maille mustards for 90 years before they were bought out by the multinational Unilever, who closed the factory in 2008. A cultural tragedy.

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