Ut queant laxis resonare fibris. Paul the Deacon. [St. John the Baptist's Day.] This hymn by Paul the Deacon, son of Warnfried, is found in three manuscripts of the 11th century, in the British Museum; and in the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 1851, p. 102, is printed from an 11th century manuscript at Durham. Also in the St. Gall manuscript No. 387, of the 11th century; in a manuscript of the 11th century at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, &c. Among the Bern manuscript it is found in No. 363 of the 8th century; No. 303 circa 900; and No. 455 of the 10th century. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
The three parts of this hymn have been translated into English as follows:—
i. Ut queant laxis resonare fibris.
1. 0 that, once more, to sinful men descending. By T. I. Ball, in the 1863 Appendix to the Hymnal Noted. In the Office Hymn Book, 1889, it is given as "0 that to sinners once again descending."
2. Greatest of prophets, messenger appointed. By R. F. Littledale, in the 1860 Appendix to the Hymnal Noted, in the Day Hours of the Church of England, 1864, and again in the People's Hymnal, 1867, with the signature "B."
3. 0 heavenly Father, cleanse our lips. By W. Cooke, in the Hymnary, 1872, with the signature "A. C. C." and again in Thring's Collection, 1882.
4. 0 for thy spirit, holy John, to chasten. Anonymous in the Antiphoner and Grail, 1880, and the Hymner, 1882. Other translations are:—
1. That thy rare doings, 0 St. John we pray thee. Primer. 1599.
2. That we thy servants may with joy declare. Primer. 1615.
3. That we with deep-tun'd strings may sound. Primer. 1685.
4. 0 sylvan Prophet, whose eternal Fame. Primer, 1706 and 1782.
5. That we with tuneful Notes may sound thy Life. Evening Office. 1760.
6. O for thy spirit, holy John, once more. W. J. Copeland. 1848.
7. Unloose, great Baptist, our sin-fetter'd lips. E. Caswell. 1849.
8. 0 for thy spirit, holy John, to chasten. W. J. Blew. 1852-55.
9. That with glad voices, we thy matchless virtues. T. J. Potter in Catholic Psalmist. 1858.
10. In flowing measures worthily to sing. J. D. Chambers. 1866.
11. That we may worthy be in tuneful strain. J. Wallace. 1874.
ii. Antra deserti teneris ab annis.
1. In caves of the lone wilderness thy youth. By E. Caswall, in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 156; his Hymns & Poems, 1873, p. 85, and a few Roman Catholic hymn-books for Missions and Schools.
2. Thou, young in years, in desert caverns hidest. By T. I. Ball, in the 1863 Appendix to the Hymnal Noted. In the Office Hymn Book, 1889, it is greatly altered as, “Thou, in the wilds, thy tender years art hiding."
3. Thou in thy childhood to the desert caverns. Anon, in the Antiphoner and Grail, 1880, and the Hymner, 1882.
Other translations are:—
1. From noisy crowds your early years Recess. Primer. 1706.
2. In tenderest years withdrawn from haunts of men. W. J. Copeland. 1848.
3. In the lone desert, to the caves and coverts. W. J. Blew. 1852-55.
4. Thou in the desert caves thy tender youth. J. D. Chambers. 1866.
5. Thy childhood's home the desert was. J. Wallace. 1874.
iii. 0 nimis felix meritique celsi.
1. 0 blessed saint, of snow-white purity. By E. Caswall, in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 158, and his Hymns & Poems, 1873, p. 86. It is given in a few collections. In Hymns for the Year, 1867, it begins, "O Saint of snow-white purity."
2. 0 blessed saint of high renown and honour. By R. F. Littledale, in the Day Hours of the Church of England, 1864, and the People's Hymnal., 1867, where it is signed "B."
3. 0 more than blessed, merit high attaining.
Anon, in the Antiphoner and Grail, 1880, and the Hymner, 1882. Altered in the Office Hymn Book, 1889, to "O Saint most blessed, merit high attaining."
Other translations are:—
1. Hail Prince of Prophets, Prince of Martyrs, hail. Primer. 1706.
2. O, all too blest, and of transcendent worth. W. J. Copeland. 1848.
3. Baptist thrice blessed, John august and holy. W. J. Blew. 1852-55.
4. Most blest, most excellent in holiness. J. D. Chambers. 1866.
5. Thrice happy, thou exalted saint. J. Wallace. 1874.
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)