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A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“Except the psalms or canonical Scriptures of the new and old Testaments, nothing composed poetically shall be sung in church, as the holy canons command.”
— Council of Braga, 563AD

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Where Did “Do-Re-Mi” Come From?
published 7 June 2019 by Jeff Ostrowski

84288 ut queant laxis HOSE WHO WILL attend Sacred Music Symposium 2019 can look forward to singing Solemn Vespers at night—and we have beautiful things planned! One of the hymns is for Saint John the Baptist—UT QUEANT LAXIS—and it shows us where “Do-Re-Mi” comes from. (Later on, “Ut” was changed to “Do,” perhaps as an exercise in vanity by Giovanni Battista Doni.) Here is the Editio Vaticana version from a wonderful Solesmes Abbey book published in 1957:

    * *  PDF “Ut Queant Laxis” (Vaticana)

What about an organ accompaniment? If you carefully search the NOH collection, you will see that two different harmonizations are provided for this hymn: One in volume 7, another in volume 8. (It is slightly puzzling to understand why, but sometimes a particular melody seems to have “struck a chord”—pardon the pun—with the editors. When that happens, we encounter in the NOH various harmonizations for the same melody by different composers: Monsignor Jules Van Nuffel, Flor Peeters, Monsignor Jules Vyverman, Gustaaf Frans Nees, and so on.)

A concise and clear explanation vis-à-vis how we got solfège (DO-RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-TI) is provided on page 1,229 of the 1957 publication mentioned earlier:

84286 Ut quéant laxis resonáre fibris


A literal translation of the Latin by Father Connelly:

1. Ut quéant laxis
resonáre fibris
Mira gestórum
fámuli tuórum,
Solve pollúti
lábii reátum,
Sancte Joánnes.
1. That thy servants
may be able to sing
the wonders of thy deeds
with loosened throats,
O holy John,
remove the guilt
of our polluted lips.
2. Núntius celso
véniens Olýmpo,
Te patri magnum
fore nascitúrum,
Nomen, et vitae
sériem geréndae
Órdine prómit.
2. A messenger coming
from high heaven
discloses in due order
to thy father that
thou wouldst be born great,
thy name, and the course of life
thou wouldst lead.
3. Ille promíssi
dúbius supérni,
Pérdidit promptae
módulos loquélae:
Sed reformásti
génitus perémptae
Órgana vocis.
3. Doubtful of the
heavenly promise,
he (Zachary) lost the power
of ready speech;
but thou, when born,
didst restore the organs
of the lost voice.
4. Ventris obstrúso
récubans cubíli
Sénseras Regem
thálamo manéntem:
Hinc parens nati
méritis utérque
Ábdita pandit.
4. While buried in the
hidden abode of the womb,
thou didst perceive
the King reposing in His chamber;
whereupon both parents,
by the merits of their son,
revealed hidden things.
5. Sit decus Patri,
genitaéque Proli,
Et tibi compar
utriúsque virtus,
Spíritus semper,
Deus unus, omni
Témporis aevo.
Amen.
5. O God, one
and likewise three,
may the heavenly citizens
extol Thee with praises:
and we suppliants
ask Thy pardon:
do Thou spare the redeemed.
Amen.

For myself, I prefer the melodic variant found in the 1903 Liber Usualis of Dom Mocquereau. The problem is, if your choir already knows the standard version, it will be annoying to introduce a different tune—but I really do like it better:

    * *  PDF Download • Melodic Variant (1903)

(Believe it or not, this accompaniment matches the 1903 version, not the Editio Vaticana.)

Did I mention I prefer the 1903 version? Sorry, just checking…

Veronica Brandt has created an Editio Vaticana version with a different literal English Translation underneath the notes:

    * *  PDF Download • Version by Veronica Brandt