Chanting is a commonly used spiritual practice. As with prayer, chanting can either be a component of a personal or a group practice. Different spiritual traditions recognise chanting as an aid to spiritual development. Many ancient cultures used chanting along side its spiritual purpose to pass down stories and accomplishments of the ancestors, similar to poetry in the more modern cultures.
The word “chant” derives from the Latin “cantare” which translates to “sing”. Chanting practices vary considerably throughout culture to culture. Chants may range from a simple melody to highly complex musical structures.
The tonal patterns and vibration of the sounds are believed to invoke the deep spiritual essence of what is being spoken of within the chant, the ancient languages such as Hawaiian, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Sanskrit all have this effect. It is in bedded into the fabric of the language and into the vibration of the words. English is a very modern language and although it is rich in words and diversity, it does not carry the same vibrations at its deeper level of sound like the ancient languages do.
Chanting may be considered as music, speech or a mixture of both. Historians believe that during the middle ages, some religious chants eventually evolved into song and it has been theorised that this could be one of the roots of our modern Western music.