chorale kōrălˈ, –rälˈ [key], any of the traditional hymns of the German Protestant Church. The form was developed after the Reformation to replace the plainsong of the earlier service and as a means of congregational participation in the liturgy. Early chorales were mainly translations of Latin hymns set to folksong melodies. The chorale is strophic, written in simple language, and has a simple melody, but its phrasing and metrical structure are less regular than those of the English hymn. J. S. Bach reworked nearly 400 existing chorales and composed 30 new ones.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: Theory, Forms, and Instruments