before 1000;Middle Englishantem,Old Englishantemn(e), antefne < Late Latinantefana, antiphōna (feminine singular) < Greekantíphōna (see antiphon); spelling with h probably by association with hymn, with pronunciation then changed to reflect spelling
O.E. ontemn, antefn, "a composition (in prose or verse) sung antiphonally," from L.L. antefana, from Gk. antiphona "verse response" (see antiphon). Sense evolved to "a composition set to sacred music" (late 14c.), then "song of praise or gladness" (1590s). Used in ref. to the English national song (technically a hymn) and extended to those of other nations.