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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Oratorio \Or`a*to"ri*o\, n. [It., fr. L. oratorius belonging to praying. See Orator, and cf. Oratory.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Mus.) A more or less dramatic text or poem, founded on some Scripture nerrative, or great divine event, elaborately set to music, in recitative, arias, grand choruses, etc., to be sung with an orchestral accompaniment, but without action, scenery, or costume, although the oratorio grew out of the Mysteries and the Miracle and Passion plays, which were acted. [1913 Webster] Note: There are instances of secular and mythological subjects treated in the form of the oratorios, and called oratorios by their composers; as Haydn's "Seasons," Handel's "Semele," etc. [1913 Webster] 2. Performance or rendering of such a composition. [1913 Webster]