Choir (architecture)

Choir (Architecture)

Choir (architecture)

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Description:
Architecturally, the choir (Anglican alt. spelling quire) is the area of a church or cathedral, usually in the western part of the chancel between the nave and the sanctuary (which houses the altar). The choir is occasionally located in the eastern part of the nave. In some monastic churches the choir occupies the western end of the nave and thus counterbalances the chancel and sanctuary.

The back-choir or retro-choir is a space behind the high altar in the choir of a church, in which there is a small altar standing back to back with the other.

History



In the Early Church the sanctuary was connected directly to the nave. Choir was simply the east part of the nave, and was fenced off by low railing, called cancelli, from which we get our English word chancel. The development of the architectural feature known as the choir is the result of the liturgical development brought about by the end of persecutions under Constantine the Great and the rise of monasticism. The word "choir" is first used by writers of the Western Church. Isidore of Seville and Honorius of Autun write that the term is derived from the "corona", the circle of clergy or singers who surrounded the altar.

When first introduced, the choir was attached to the bema, the elevated platform in the center of the nave on which were placed seats for the higher clergy and a lectern for scripture readings. This arrangement can still be observed at the Basilica of St. Mary Major...
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