Domine Deus, Pater omnipotens, lumen indeficiens, qui es conditor omnium luminum:novum hunc ignem sanctifica, et praesta: ut ad te, qui es lumen indeficiens, purismentibus post hujus saeculi caliginem pervenire valeamus. Per Christum Dominumnostrum. Amen.
The bonfire, incidentally, is an excellent symbol for John, the untamed prophet who lived outsidethe city both literally and figuratively. It also makes an interesting contrast with the Paschalcandal. On Easter vigil, a similarly "wild" fire representing Christ is made outside and is used tolight the Paschal candle, which is then carried into the church. Significantly, in the
thedeacon praises this candle as the product of a beehive, symbol of a virtuous and harmonious city.The idea seems to be that Christ is also an outsider, though he succeeds through his death andresurrection in bringing the light of truth into the very citadel of darkness. On the other hand,John, who never lived to seeChrist's triumph, can only bear witness to the light from the outside.
A Great Leap in the Study of Music
We should also mention the breviary hymn for the Feast of St. Johnthe Baptist:
Ut queant laxis
. Tradition ascribes the hymn to Paul theDeacon, who purportedly wrote it before having to sing the difficult
on Holy Saturday night. (Paul was suffering from a hoarse throat and, remembering howZechariah, the father of St. John, was cured from a case of muteness, thought it best to direct his prayers to the Baptist). What makes
Ut queant laxis
most famous, however, is that it is the sourceof our musical scale,
do, re, mi
. An attentive medieval monk noticed that the melody of the hymnascended precisely one note of the diatonic scale of C at each verse. Taking the first stanza, hedecided to name the notes after the first syllable of each verse:
bii reatum, Sanc
oannes.With the exception of
, which was later changed to
for ease of pronunciation, thesesyllables became the first six notes of our scale:
. And this stanza alsoended up providing the name of the seventh note,
, which was later taken from the last syllableof the penultimate word and the first syllable of the last word of the stanza: "T" from
. The names for the notes to our basic Western musical octave therefore comefrom the hymn for today's feast.
3. Feast of Corpus Christi
At the age of sixteen, a humble Belgian girl began having visions of a brightmoon marred by a small black spot. After years of seeing this perplexing portent, Jesus Christ appeared to her and revealed its meaning. The moon, Hetold her, represented the Church calendar, and the black spot the absence of afeast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. That nun was
, Prioressof Mont Cornillon (1258), and the Feast she was commissioned by our Lord to promote was thefeast of