late 14c., "to sing," from Old French chanter "to sing, celebrate" (12c.), from Latin cantare "to sing," originally frequentative of canere "sing" (which it replaced), from PIE root *kan- "to sing."
The frequentative quality of the word was no longer felt in Latin, and by the time French emerged the word had entirely displaced canere. Meaning "to sing as in the church service, in a style between song and recitation" is by 1580s. Related: Chanted; chanting.