chorale kōrăl´, –räl´ [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.
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