Plaque of Guido Monaco, ArezzoNext Monday is the feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist. Great time to bring up the origins of “Do Re Mi”. A great intro is this exclusive interview with Guido d’Arezzo.

Here is the sheet music for the Vespers hymn of the Nativity of St John the Baptist.


I’ve added in the translation from CPDL – though they have an extra verse that isn’t in the vespers hymn in the Liber Usualis, but it is in the Laudes hymn.. But good as a bare bones literal translation.

Below is the text as in the Liber, plus a versified translation:

1. Ut queant laxis resonáre fibris
Mira gestórum fámuli tuórum,
Solve pollúti lábii reátum,
Sancte Joánnes.

2. Núntius celso véniens Olýmpo
Te patri magnum fore nascitúrum,
Nomen, et vitae sériem geréndae
Ordinae promit.

3. Ille promíssi dúbius supérni,
Pérdidit promptae módulos loquélae:
Sed reformásti genitus perémptae
Organa vocis.

4. Ventris obstrúso récubans cubíli
Sénseras Regem thálamo manéntem:
Hinc parens nati méritis utérque
Abdita pandit.

5. Sit decus Patri, genitaéque Proli
Et tibi, compar utriúsque virtus,
Spíritus semper, Deus unus, omni
Témporis aevo. Amen.

1. O for your spirit, holy John, to chasten
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by your children might your deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.

2. Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,
Bears to your father promise of your greatness;
How he shall name you, what your future story,
Duly revealing.

3. Scarcely believing message so transcendent,
Him for a season power of speech forsaketh,
Till, at your wondrous birth, again returneth,
Voice to the voiceless.

4. You, in your mother’s womb all darkly cradled,
Knew your great Monarch, biding in His chamber,
Whence the two parents, through their offspring’s merits,
Mysteries uttered.

5. Praise to the Father, to the Son begotten,
And to the Spirit, equal power possessing,
One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,
Ever resounding. Amen.

Thanks to Catholic Culture. Looks like they typed up the words from The Hymns of the Missal and Breviary by Michael Britt, partially transcribed here. The English is a cento from The Hymner, based on a translation by W.J. Blew.

A suggestion for a tune for the English is Iste Confessor

Now have a listen to the chant from a monastery somewhere…

Now go get The Ut Queant Laxis Mug

Or see a fancy reverberating version here.