Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24)

The Matins readings for the feast are set out below.

Nocturn I (Jeremiah 1:1-10, 17-19)

[Psalms 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10]

Reading 1: Lesson from the book of Jeremias - These are the words of Jeremias, son of Helcias, one of the priests who dwelt at Anathoth, in the lands of Benjamin. The word of the Lord came to him during the reign of Josias, son of Amon, over Juda, in the thirteenth year of it; came to him during the reign of Josias’ son, Joachim, and did not cease till the men of Jerusalem went into exile, when Sedecias, that was also son to Josias, had been reigning eleven years and five months.

R. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joánnes: * Hic venit in testimónium, ut testimónium perhibéret de lúmine, et paráret Dómino plebem perféctam.
V. Erat Joánnes in desérto prædicans baptismum pœniténtiæ.
R. Hic venit in testimónium, ut testimónium perhibéret de lúmine, et paráret Dómino plebem perféctam.
R. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. * The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
V. John was in the wilderness, preaching the baptism of repentance.
R. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Reading 2: The word of the Lord came to me, and his message was: I claimed thee for my own before ever I fashioned thee in thy mother’s womb; before ever thou camest to the birth, I set thee apart for myself; I have a prophet’s errand for thee among the nations. Alas, alas, Lord God (said I), I am but a child that has never learned to speak. A child, sayest thou? the Lord answered. Nay, I have a mission for thee to undertake, a message to entrust to thee.

R. Elisabeth Zacharíæ magnum virum génuit, Joánnem Baptistam, præcursórem Dómini: * Qui viam Dómino præparávit in erémo.
V. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joánnes.
R. Qui viam Dómino præparávit in erémo.
R. Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias, was the mother of a mighty man, even of John the Baptist, the Forerunner of the Lord,* who made straight in the desert an highway for the Lord.
V. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
R. Who made straight in the desert an highway for the Lord.

Reading 3:  Have no human fears; am I not at thy side, to protect thee from harm? the Lord says. And with that, the Lord put out his hand, and touched me on the mouth; See, he told me, I have inspired thy lips with utterance. Here and now I give thee authority over nations and kingdoms everywhere; with a word thou shalt root them up and pull them down, overthrow and lay them in ruins; with a word thou shalt build them up and plant them anew.

R. Priúsquam te formarem in útero, novi te: et antequam exíres de ventre, sanctificávi te, * Et prophétam in Géntibus dedi te.
V. Vir diléctus a Deo, et homínibus honorátus est.
R. Et prophétam in Géntibus dedi te.
R. Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee;* And I ordained thee a Prophet unto the nations.
V. A man beloved of God and men, he was had in honour.
R. And I ordained thee a Prophet unto the nations.

Reading 4: Up, then, gird thee like a man, and speak out all the message I give thee. Meet them undaunted, and they shall have no power to daunt thee. Strong I mean to make thee this day as fortified city, or pillar of iron, or wall of bronze, to meet king, prince, priest of Juda, and common folk all the country through; impregnable thou shalt be to their attack; am I not at thy side, the Lord says, to deliver thee?

R: 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
V: Et glorificatus sum in oculis Domini, et Deus meus factus est fortitudo mea.
R: Posuit me quasi sagittam electam
V:Gloria Patri...
R: Posuit me quasi sagittam electam
R: The Lord hath called me by my name from the womb of my mother, and He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, * Hath made me as a chosen arrow
V: and I am glorified in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is made my strength.
R: Hath made me as a chosen arrow
V: Glory be..
R: Hath made me as a chosen arrow

Nocturn II 

[Psalms 14, 20, 33, 63, 64, 91]

Reading  5: Sermon of St Maximus, bishop - The natural birth of the venerable John the Baptist, dearest brethren, has made sacred the festival of this day. On  this account,  he was sent into this world by heavenly dispensation not only that he himself might be honored by the office of Prophet, but also that the praises due all the prophets might be confirmed in him. Not undeservedly do we venerate with special honor him who by a certain, singular favor was the last to foretell  the Savior of  the  world that he might be the first to point Him out to us.

R. Descéndit Angelus Dómini ad Zacharíam dicens: Accipe púerum in senectute tua: * Et habébit nomen Ioánnes Baptista.
V. Iste puer magnus coram Dómino: nam et manus eius cum ipso est.
R. Et habébit nomen Ioánnes Baptista.
R. The Angel of the Lord was sent down unto Zacharias, saying: Thou shalt beget a son in thine old age; * and his name shall be called John the Baptist.
V. The child shall be great in the sight of the Lord; for His hand is with him.
R. And his name shall be called John the Baptist.

Reading 6: For it was he alone of the prophets who merited to see with his own eyes our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the rest foreknew would come after a long time, and to announce Him as being at hand.  He  is the one whom, through the inspiration of God, Isaias foretold, saying: 'The voice of one crying in the desert: 'Prepare  ye the  way of the Lord.' How fittingly, dearly beloved brethren, was John announced beforehand as a voice, since he was to be sent as herald and witness of the celestial Word.

R. Hic est præcursor diléctus, et lucérna lucens ante Dóminum: * Ipse est enim Ioánnes, qui viam Dómino præparávit in erémo; sed et Agnum Dei demonstrávit, et illuminávit mentes hóminum.
V. Ipse præíbit ante illum in spíritu et virtúte Elíæ.
R. Ipse est enim Ioánnes, qui viam Dómino præparávit in erémo; sed et Agnum Dei demonstrávit, et illuminávit mentes hóminum.
R. This is the well-beloved Fore-runner, a burning and a shining light before the Lord. * For even this is John, who made straight in the desert an highway for our God. This also is he which bare witness, saying: Behold the Lamb of God! And his light lightened the minds of men.
V. He shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias.
R. For even this is John, who made straight in the desert an highway for our God. This also is he which bare witness, saying Behold the Lamb of God! And his light lightened the minds of men.

Reading 7: He is the one whose birth and name and merit were foretold by the Angel Gabriel. He is the one who in the judgment of a heavenly declaration is placed before all mortal men, according to the saying of our Lord, "There hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist." How beautifully is it said, "Among them that  are  born  of  women  there  is  none  greatest," for He who was born of the Virgin was in every way greater than John!

R. Innuébant patri eius quem vellet vocari eum: et postulans pugillarem, scripsit dicens: * Ioánnes est nomen eius.
V. Apertum est os Zacharíæ, et prophetávit dicens.
R. Ioánnes est nomen eius.
R. They made signs to his father, how he would have him called; and he asked for a writing-table, and wrote, saying: * His name is John.
V. The mouth of Zacharias was opened, and he prophesied, saying:
R. His name is John.

Reading 8:  Having reflected on these things,  consider  what  great  respect, what great devotion we should  tender  this man,  who,  in  order  that he might be honored, was foretold  by the  Holy  Spirit,  promised  by an angel, praised by God, and sanctified by the undying glory  of  a holy death! For it  was  fitting  that  a  wonderful  life  should  follow his extraordinary birth, and that a death consecrated to God should close his holy and perfect life. Consequently, brethren, does Christ's Church over the whole world  most  correctly  celebrate  today  with  the greatest joy the first moments of the life of him who, as a most faithful witness, revealed to the awestruck world  that  eternal joys were come to mortal men.

R: Inter natos mulierum non surrexit maior Iohanne Baptista * Qui viam Domini praeparavit in heremo.
V: Hic venit in testimonium ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine
R: Qui viam Domini praeparavit in heremo
V: Gloria Patri
R: Qui viam Domini praeparavit in heremo
R: Among those born of women there arose none greater than John the Baptist * who prepared the way of the Lord in the wilderness.
V: This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light
R: Who prepared the way of the Lord in the wilderness.
V: Glory be...
R: Who prepared the way of the Lord in the wilderness.

Nocturn III (St Ambrose on Luke 2:30-31)

[Canticles from common of a martyr, Ecc 14: 22, 15: 3, 4, 6; Jer 17:7-8; Ecc 31: 8-11]

Reading 9: From the Holy Gospel according to Luke: Elisabeth's fullness of time came that she should deliver, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her, and they rejoiced with her. And so on.

Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan - Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours rejoiced with her. The birth of a Saint is a joy for many, for it is a good to all. Righteousness is an help to all, and therefore when a righteous man is born it is an heralding of his life, which is still to come, that the helpful excellency of his future should be hailed by the, as it were, prophetic joy of the neighbours. It is well that we should be told concerning the prophet, while he was yet in the womb, that we may know how that Mary was there; but we hear nothing of his childhood, because,we know that it was safe and strong through the nearness of the Lord, Himself then in that womb which was free from the sorrows of pregnancy.

R. Præcúrsor Dómini venit, de quo ipse testátur: * Nullus major inter natos mulierum Joánne Baptísta.
V. Hic est enim prophéta, et plus quam prophéta, de quo Salvátor ait.
R. Nullus major inter natos mulierum Joánne Baptísta.
R. The Fore-runner of the Lord cometh, to whom He Himself bare witness, saying: * Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.
V. A Prophet? Yea, and much more than a Prophet. This is he of whom the Saviour saith:
R. Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.

Reading 10: And therefore we read in the Gospel nothing touching him save his coming, the annunciation thereof to his father, the leap which he gave in the womb, and his crying in the wilderness.It was not for him to feel childishness, who beyond all use of nature or of his age, when as yet he lay in his mother's womb, leapt at once unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. . It is strange how that the Holy Evangelist hath judged meet to tell us that they thought to call the child Zacharias, after the name of his father, that thou mayest notice that the mother would have none of the names whereby their kindred were called, but only that name which the Holy Ghost had dictated, and which the Angel had told before unto Zacharias.
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R. Gabriel Angelus appáruit Zacharíæ dicens: Nascétur tibi fílius, nomen ejus Joánnes vocábitur: * Et multi in nativitáte ejus gaudébunt.
V. Erit enim magnus coram Dómino vinum et síceram non bibet.
R. Et multi in nativitáte ejus gaudébunt.
R. The Angel Gabriel appeared unto Zacharias, and said thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John; * And many shall rejoice at his birth.
V. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.
R. And many shall rejoice at his birth.
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Reading 11: The dumb man had certainly not been able to tell his wife by what name to call the child, and Elizabeth must needs have learnt by revelation what she could not have heard from her husband.His name is John; that is, it is not for us to choose a name now for him to whom God hath given a name already. He hath a name, which we know, but it is not one of our choosing.

R; Et ipse praeibit ante illum in spiritu et virtute Eliæ:* Ut convertat corda patrum in filios, et incredulos ad prudentiam justorum, parare Domino plebem perfectam.
V: Erit enim magnus coram Domino, et Spiritu Sancto replebitur
R: Ut convertat corda patrum in filios, et incredulos ad prudentiam justorum, parare Domino plebem perfectam.

R: And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; * That he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.
V: For he shall be great before the Lord; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost
R: That he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.

Reading 12: To receive a name from God is one of the honours of the Saints. Thus was it that Jacob's name was no more called Jacob but Israel, because he saw God face to face. Thus was it that our Lord Jesus was named before He was born, with a name not given by an Angel, but by the Father. Thou seest that Angels tell that which they have been bidden to tell, not matters of their own choosing. Nor oughtest thou to wonder that Elizabeth named a name which she had not heard, since it had been revealed to her by the same Holy Ghost Who had commanded the Angel to tell it.

R: Tu puer, propheta Altissimi vocaberis: * Præibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus
V: Ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi ejus in remissionem peccatorum eorum
R: Præibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus
V: Gloria Patri...
R: Præibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus
R: And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: * For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways
V:To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins
R: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways
V: Glory be...
R: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways

Gospel (Luke 1:57-68)

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundem Lucam.

Elisabeth autem impletum est tempus pariendi, et peperit filium. Et audierunt vicini et cognati ejus quia magnificavit Dominus misericordiam suam cum illa, et congratulabantur ei. Et factum est in die octavo, venerunt circumcidere puerum, et vocabant eum nomine patris sui Zachariam. Et respondens mater ejus, dixit: Nequaquam, sed vocabitur Joannes. Et dixerunt ad illam: Quia nemo est in cognatione tua, qui vocetur hoc nomine. Innuebant autem patri ejus, quem vellet vocari eum. Et postulans pugillarem scripsit, dicens: Joannes est nomen ejus. Et mirati sunt universi. Apertum est autem illico os ejus, et lingua ejus, et loquebatur benedicens Deum. Et factus est timor super omnes vicinos eorum: et super omnia montana Judææ divulgabantur omnia verba hæc: et posuerunt omnes qui audierant in corde suo, dicentes: Quis, putas, puer iste erit? etenim manus Domini erat cum illo. Et Zacharias pater ejus repletus est Spiritu Sancto: et prophetavit, dicens: Benedictus Dominus Deus Israël,
quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suæ.  R. Amen.
From the Holy Gospel according to Luke.


Now Elizabeth’s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son.  And her neighbors and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father’s name Zachary. And his mother answering, said: Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea. And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What a one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied, saying: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
R.  Amen.

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