ANTHEM, derived from the Gr., through the Saxon antefn, a word which originally had the same meaning as antiphony (q.v.). It is now, however, generally restricted to 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, "in choirs and places where they sing." It is just as usual in this place to have an ordinary hymn as an anthem, which is a more elaborate composition than the congregational hymns. Several anthems are included in the English 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. Anthems may be written for solo voices only, for the full choir, or for both, and according to this distinction are called respectively Verse, Full, and Full with Verse. 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 English school of musicians has from the first devoted its chief attention to this form, and scarcely a composer of any note can be named who has not written several good anthems. Tallis, Tye, Byrd, and Farrant in the 16th century; Orlando Gibbons, Blow, and Purcell in the 17th, and Croft, Boyce, James Kent, James Nares, Benjamin Cooke, and Samuel Arnold in the 18th were famous composers of anthems, and in more recent times the names are too numerous to mention.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)