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Ut queant laxis

Resonare fibris
Mira gestorum
Famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti
Labii reatum,
Sancte Iohannes.

So that your servants may, with loosened voices,


resound the wonders of your deeds, clean the guilt
from our stained lips, O Saint John.

Ut queant laxis
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ut queant laxis or Hymnus in Ioannem is a Latin hymn in honour of John the Baptist written in Horatian
Sapphics[1] and traditionally attributed to Paulus Diaconus, the eighth-century Lombard historian. It is
famous for its part in the history of musical notation, in particular solmization. The hymn is sung to a
Gregorian chant, the original do-re-mi music.

The chant is useful for teaching singing because of the way it uses successive notes of the scale: the first six
musical phrases of each stanza begin on a successively higher notes of the hexachord, giving utremifa
sola; though ut is replaced by do in modern solfge. The naming of the notes of the hexachord by the first
syllable of each hemistich (half line of verse) of the first verse is usually attributed to Guido of Arezzo.
Guido, who was active in the eleventh century, is regarded as the father of modern musical notation. He
made use of clefs (C & F clefs) and invented the ut-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si notation. The hymn does not help with
the seventh tone as the last line, Sancte Iohannes, breaks the ascending pattern. The syllable si, for the
seventh tone, was added in the 18th century.
It is not known who wrote the melody. Guido possibly composed it,[2] but he more likely used an existing
melody. A variant of the melody appears in an eleventh-century musical setting of Horace's poem Ode to
Phyllis (4.11) recorded in a manuscript in France.[3] The hymn uses classical metres: the Sapphic stanza
consisting of three Sapphic hendecasyllables followed by an adonius (a type of dimeter).

A version of Ut queant laxis

The first stanza is:

Ut queant laxis
resonare fibris
Mira gestorum
famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti
labii reatum,
Sancte Iohannes.

It may be translated: So that your servants may, with loosened voices, resound the wonders of your deeds,
clean the guilt from our stained lips, O Saint John.

A paraphrase by Cecile Gertken, OSB (19022001) preserves the key syllables and loosely evokes the
original meter:

Do let our voices


resonate most purely,
miracles telling,
far greater than many;
so let our tongues be
lavish in your praises,
Saint John the Baptist.[4]

Ut is now mostly replaced by Do in solfge due to the latter's open sound, in deference to Italian theorist
Giovanni Battista Doni.[5] The word "Ut" is still in use to name the C-clef. The seventh note was not part of
the medieval hexachord and does not occur in this melody, and it was originally called "si" from "Sancte
Ioannes".[2] In the nineteenth century, Sarah Glover, an English music teacher, renamed "si" to "ti" so that
every syllable might be notated by its initial letter. But this was not adopted in countries using fixed-do
systems: in Romance languages "si" is used alike for B and B flat, and no separate syllable is required for
sharp "sol".

Melody

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Contents
1 Liturgical use
2 See also
3 References
4 External links

Liturgical use
In the Roman Rite, the hymn is sung in the Divine Office on June 24, the Feast of the Nativity of John the
Baptist. The full hymn is divided into three parts, with Ut queant laxis sung at Vespers, Antra deserti sung at
Matins, O nimis felix sung at Lauds, and doxologies added after the first two parts.