Cantor (church)

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A cantor (GR. ψάλτης) is the chief singer (and ofttimes instructor) employed in a church with responsibilities for the ecclesiastical choir; also called the precentor.The cantor's duties and qualifications have varied considerably according to time and place; but generally he must be competent to conduct the vocals for the choir, to start any chant on demand, and to be able to identify and correct the missteps of singers placed under him. He may be held accountable for the immediate rendering of the music, showing the course of the melody by movements of the hand(s), similar to a conductor.

Eastern Christianity

In the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, the position of chanter is one of the minor clerical orders, though it is not unusual, though irregular, for an unordained singer to fill the role of chanter for an indefinite period. The chief chanter is called the protopsaltis(Gr. Πρωτοψάλτης). The cantor or chanters sing the many hymns called for during the Divine Services. A chanter must be knowledgeable about the ecclesiastical mode as well as the complex structure of the services. A chanter must be Orthodox and properly is ordained to service a parish by the bishop.

In the Greek tradition, a chanter will often wear the exorason, a black outer cassock with angel-wing sleeves. The Slavic tradition—which tends more commonly to use a choir rather than a cantor—assigns no specific vestment to the chanters, unless an...
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