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A cantor or chanter is a person who leads people in singing, or sometimes in prayer. In formal Christian worship, a cantor is a person who sings solo verses or passages to which the choir or congregation responds. In Judaism, a cantor is one who sings and leads people in prayer in a Jewish religious service, and may be called hazzan. A Cantor in Reform and Conservative Judaism is an ordained clergy, similar to that of an ordained rabbi, if the cantor has gone through seminary training or been certified as a "Cantor" from an endorsed seminary. "Cantor" is used as a translation of equivalent terms in other languages, such as for the leader of singing on a traditional Kerala snake boat, a Chundan Vallam.
A similar term is precentor, defined as a leader of the singing of a choir or congregation.
More specific types of cantor include:
- Cantor in Christianity, an ecclesiastical officer leading liturgical music in several branches of the Christian church
- Hazzan (Judaism) a singer and/or musician. Orthodox Judaism only allows men, while the other branches allow women. Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism ordain cantors from seminaries. Ordained cantors serve as clergy in their congregations and perform all ministerial rites as rabbis.