INTROITUS: Birth of John the Baptist

De ventre matris meae vocavit me Dominus nomine meo: et posuit os meum ut gladium acutum: sub tegumento manus suae protexit me, posuit me quasi sagittam electam.

“From the womb of my mother the Lord called me by my name, and he made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword. He protected me under the layer of his hand, he made me like an elected arrow.” (cf. Is 49:1–2)

Click here to listen to an audio of the chant.
Sung by Liborius Lumma, Innsbruck (Austria).

John the Baptist is Jesus’ herald. It seems that he was a striking personality. Even his garment was worth noticing. The end of his life was a spectacular martyrdom, and in the Christian tradition he is always the number two in the list of the Saints, right after Mary.

Against this background one could expect an ostentatious melody for the introit which is taken from the book of Isaiah, thus showing us John among the prophets. But actually the melody is modest and cautious, not triumphant at all.

Maybe this is what this introit wants to tell us: Being in God’s service has nothing to do with being a celebrity. It means serving someone who is bigger than oneself.

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