Indebted to a sore throat

Suppose you are a deacon coming down with unusual hoarseness in the evening of Good Friday. You are scheduled to chant the Exsultet in the Easter Vigil the following Holy Saturday. What will you do? Probably an ‘overdose’ of Strepsils or Dequadin, right? Or, if your throat craves a more ‘esoteric’ approach, pei pa koa or salabat, right? But this would only be the first part of Homo proponit, Deus disponit. For the second part, whose special intercession would you ask to obtain a swift restitution of your vocal faculties? Saint Blaise, the martyred bishop of Sebaste, is the first one that comes to mind, naturally. After all, there is a special blessing of throats on his feast day.

Oratory Easter Vigil 2017-3

In the 8th century, however, a Lombard historian (at the same time a deacon in Rome and a monk in Monte Cassino), by the name of Paul Warnefried, invoked Saint John the Baptist, most likely inspired by how the birth of the Precursor loosened the tongue of his father [1]. On Holy Saturday, before the Vigil, Paul wrote a poem, in perhaps the best classical metre there is (the Sapphic Adonic metre), which he dedicated to Saint John, asking in the very first stanza for the healing of his throat [2]:

Ūt quĕānt lāxīs rĕsŏnāre fībrīs
Mīră gēstōrūm fămŭlī tŭōrūm
Sōlvĕ pōllūtī lăbĭī rĕātūm,
Sānctĕ Iŏānnes.

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