CHANCEL. This is rather a term of ordinary discourse than one which would be used in a technical description of the several parts of a Christian church. As far as we have observed, it is now used to denote that part of a church in which the communion table or altar is placed, with the area before it, in which the con gregation assemble when the Eucharist is administered. An outcry was raised at the Reformation against the rubric prefixed to the Common Prayer, which ordained that the chancels should remain as in times past. The more ardent re formers asserted that this ordinance tended only to magnify the priesthood ; and hence the modern practice of perfoeming di vine service in the body of the church, though the chancel still remains as a separate part of the edifice. In many churches the Epistles and Gospels and the Commandments are read at the communion•table, the proper place for which is the chancel. The chancel was
often separated from the nave or body of the church by lattice-work, cancelli, and it was from this circumstance that the term chancel seems to have originated. The word cancelli is used by Cicero and other Latin writers to express a partition made by upright and cross pieces of wood or metal for the purpose of making any barrier or separation in courts of justice, in a theatre, and so forth.
In some churches we may hear of the chancel of a particular family. This is in cases in which some particular fitmily has had a private oratory within the church, which has usually been also the burial-place of the family. These private chapels or chantries are some times called chancels, for the same reason that the great choir is sometimes so called ; that is, in consequence of being divided from the rest of the church by cancelli.