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Harmony with a fixed theme in music. It is usually a higher soprano part sung to complement one or more verses of a hymn. For example, "While shepherds watched their flocks" (Hymn 94) has descants on the second and sixth verses, and "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" (Hymn 390) has a descant on the fourth verse. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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