[kuh n-tah-tuh]


a choral composition, either sacred and resembling a short oratorio or secular, as a lyric drama set to music but not to be acted.
a metrical narrative set to recitative or alternate recitative and air, usually for a single voice accompanied by one or more instruments.

Origin of cantata

1715–25; < Italian, equivalent to cant(are) to sing (see cant1) + -ata -ate1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cantata

Contemporary Examples of cantata

Historical Examples of cantata

  • You must set at the cantata while we are away, and have it finished for us to hear when we come back.

    Nell, of Shorne Mills

    Charles Garvice

  • The symphony clearly reflects the spirit of the cantata, which follows.

    The Standard Oratorios

    George P. Upton

  • Her cantata, "Die Heilige Nacht," for soloists and chorus, is often heard.

  • The performance is on Monday and I chance to know the cantata.


    Kate Douglas Wiggin

  • The distribution of presents was not to come off until after the cantata.

    Chicken Little Jane

    Lily Munsell Ritchie

British Dictionary definitions for cantata



a musical setting of a text, esp a religious text, consisting of arias, duets, and choruses interspersed with recitatives

Word Origin for cantata

C18: from Italian, from cantare to sing, from Latin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cantata

1724, from Italian cantata, literally "that which is sung," past participle of cantare "to sing" (see chant (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cantata in Culture



A musical composition for voice and instruments and including choruses, solos, and recitatives.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.