schola cantorum

A place for the teaching and practise of ecclesiastical chant, or a body of singers banded together for the purpose of rendering the music in church. Pope Hilary probably inaugurated the first schola cantorum, but it was Pope Gregory the Great who established the school on a firm basis and endowed it. This Roman school furnished the choir at most of the papal functions and was governed by a prior scholae cantorum, or cantor. From Rome the institution spread to other parts of the Church. In monasteries at the present day the name schola cantorum is often applied to certain selected monks who chant the more elaborate portions of the liturgical music. The official in charge of such a schola is usually called the precentor.

New Catholic Dictionary

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