It is notable in that each of the first six musical phrases of the first stanza of the hymn begins on a successively higher note of the hexachord. The first syllable of each hemistich (half line of verse) has given its name to a successive note, since these syllables coincide with the ascending note pattern. The last line, Sancte Ioannes, breaks the ascending pattern (for musical rather than pedagogic reasons) and begins with the note previously sung to "sol".
In the Roman Catholic Church, 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.
The first stanza is:
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.
Ut is now mostly replaced by Do in solfège due to the latter's open sound, probably inspired by the word Dominus (Lord). 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, but was later renamed "ti" to allow each name to start with a different letter. The use of Ut queant laxis to name the tones is usually attributed to Guido of Arezzo in the 11th century.
Silvia Walli, Melodien aus mittelalterlichen Horaz-Handschriften. Edition und Interpretation der Quellen.(Book Review)
Mar 22, 2004; Silvia Walli, Melodien aus mittelalterlichen Horaz-Handschriften. Edition und Interpretation der Quellen, Monumenta monodica...