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Evensong in York Minster, looking down the nave from beside the main altar; notice the choir arrangement into decani or Dean's side (as seen here, the left side) and cantoris or Cantor's side (here, the right side).

Decani (/dɪˈkn/; Latin: of the dean) is the side of a church choir occupied by the Dean.[1] In English churches this is typically the choir stalls on the south side of the chancel. The opposite side is known as Cantoris.[2]

The association of the Dean with the south side has propagated from the Sarum (now Salisbury Cathedral) liturgical norm, a practice that then propagated through pre-Reformation England and Wales.[3] There are some notable exceptions in the monastic cathedrals, where the senior cleric under the bishop was the prior; he often sat on the liturgical north.[3] Hence, in Durham Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, St Davids Cathedral, Carlisle Cathedral and Southwell Minster, decani is on the north.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Latham, Alison (2002). The Oxford Companion to Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-19-866212-9.
  2. ^ Nobody's Son: Final Edition. Frank D. Keeling. Trafford Publishing, 27 Jun 2007[self-published source]
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Gareth (19 May 2016). "Pass Decani on the Gospel Side: and other adventures in spiritual choreography". Ad Fontes. Retrieved 14 June 2016.