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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).

PRECENT, v. Also †present.

1. absol. To lead the singing in a church congregation, to act as Precentor, q.v. Comb. precenting-desk, the desk occupied by the precentor, usu. directly under the pulpit.Sc. 1705 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 390:
To pay to James Ellis, musicianer in this burgh, ten merks Scotts yet resting to him . . . of his sellarie for precenting on the week dayes sermons.
Mry. 1709 Edb. Courant (25–27 April):
Any Man of a good Life and Conversation, skilful in Musick Vocal and Instrumental, who will Present in the Church of Elgin, and Officiat as Session Clerk there . . . may have of Encouragement about 500 Merks Yearly.
Wgt. 1726 Session Rec. Whithorn MS. (8 Nov.):
Given to Mr McKewen, present schoolmaster, for presenting at the sacrament . . .£3.
Bwk. 1760 G. Ridpath Diary (S.H.S.) 329:
Ordered him to be reponed to his office of Presenting.
Mry. 1828 J. Ruddiman Tales 57:
Elspet was standing in a meal bowey — like you in your precenting-desk, learned Sir.
m.Lth. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 378:
Allowance for precenting and distributing poor's funds, at £5 each, £10.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
As was fit and proper, the meeting was opened with devotional exercises, the souter taking the chief part, and Johnny Gibb precenting with edifying birr.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xvii.:
That used to be a favourite sang o' Peeker Donnit's when he precentit up at Dimbarrow.
Sc. 1904 R. Small Hist. U. P. Congreg. I. 669:
The employment of a student to keep school and precent.

2. tr. To sing (a line of a psalm, etc.) as a lead to a church congregation.Abd. 1713 T. Mair Ellon Records (1898) 311:
The foresaid depute immediately precented the same, and read the 3rd. and 4th. lines.
Uls. 1923 J. Logan Ulster in X-Rays 89:
The precentor “precenting” each couplet and keeping to one key as best he could.

[O.Sc. present, id., 1660, a back-formation from Precentor. The practice, derived from Eng. puritan usage and adopted by the Westminster Assembly, consisted in the reading and singing by the precentor of the line first for the congregation to repeat after him, sometimes in the first verse only, sometimes through the whole psalm (see J. Mainzer Gaelic Psalm Tunes (1844) ix., and Precentor).]

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"Precent v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <>



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