The solemnity of John’s birth is one of the oldest feasts in the Roman calendar: It is one of the few to have a vigil Mass with its own special texts. Observed at about the time of the summer solstice, it occurs about a month after the celebration of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth on May 31, when Elizabeth’s baby leapt in her womb (see Luke 1:39–80). The readings for both Masses focus on God's call to John as prophet from before his birth. God has a plan for all of us, though that plan may not involve such dramatic events as those surrounding the birth and ministry of the Baptist. The vigil was traditionally celebrated with the lighting of “St. John’s Fires” on hilltops, probably an ancient practice associated with the solstice. Like some other saints who were beheaded, John is a patron saint of singers! This solemnity is a very important feast in many cultures.

VIGIL Lectionary #586

Even if we don’t realize it, we’re serving God’s purpose and plan.

Jeremiah 1:4–10. The call of Jeremiah “in the days of King Josiah.” The prophet should rely on God’s promise and on the words that God will provide.

Psalm of the Day: Ps (70) 71
The verses from this individual lament that we use today come from the first part of the psalm, a plea to God for deliverance, though our excerpt ends with praise of God’s righteousness.

Since My Mother’s Womb (Alstott)   BB
Since My Mother’s Womb (Currie/Gelineau) WOR 1033/LPGG 1038
Since My Mother’s Womb (Guimont) RS 100/GC2 942/LPMG 586
Since My Mother’s Womb (Kasbohm)   PRM C108/PMB 748/WS
Since My Mother’s Womb (Schiavone)   JS 1054/LP 199

1 Peter 1:8–12. Part of what is probably an ancient baptismal homily, this reading points out that we all work for God, but what we do may fit a pattern in the divine plan that we can’t yet discern.

Luke 1:5–17. The promise of a son made to Zechariah in the Temple is a promise filled with pain, because the priest Zechariah would certainly be aware of what usually happens to God’s prophets.

Songs for the Liturgy
See below.

MASS DURING THE DAY Lectionary #587

John served God as prophet and as herald. How is he a model for us?

Isaiah 49:1–6. In one of the servant songs, the prophet celebrates a ministry of reconciliation in which God calls Israel back. The servant will be a light to the nations.

Psalm of the Day: Ps (138) 139
The psalmist reflects on God's intimate knowledge of every human being. God is aware of the psalmist's every move, a knowledge which extends back to the very beginning, for God created the psalmist in the womb.

I Praise You (Alstott)   BB
I Praise You (Armstrong/Somerville) CBW 220
I Praise You (Bogdan)   PRM C109/PMB 749/WS
I Praise You (Currie/Gelineau) WOR 1034
I Praise You (Guimont) RS 187/GC2 1006/LPMG 587
I Praise You (Proulx/Gelineau)   LPGG 1039
I Praise You (Schiavone)   JS 1055/LP 200
I Praise Your Name (Lisicky) GC 135
I Will Praise You   PSL C216/SS
I Will Praise You/Te Doy Gracias (Alonso)   SS
Te Doy Gracias (Martínez) FYC 271
Te Doy Gracias (Montgomery) FYC 272

Acts 13:22–26. John is presented as a herald for the savior, Jesus.

Luke 1:57–66, 80. The story of John’s birth includes a miraculous cure of Zechariah. There are strong parallels between this story and Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ birth (2:6–21), including the use of a name given by an angel to the child before birth.

Songs for the Liturgy

A Voice Cries Out (V1,D1,VG) GP 294/JS 313/RS 485/GC2 343/BB
Arise, Your Light Is Come (V1) CBW 302
*Before the Sun Burned Bright (V1,D1) GP 577/CBW 504
Blessed Be the Lord (DG) GP 442
Blest Be the God of Israel (DG) WOR 6/CBW 13E, 660/JS 4, 121/GP 156/JS 137, 413/PMB 4, 179/WC 203, 449/WS/MI-BB
By All Your Saints Still Striving (V2, D2)  WOR 706/RS 887/CBW 455/JS 784/PMB 524/WC 954/SS
By Name I Have Called You (V1,Vps,VG,DG) GP 582
*Called by My Name (DE)   IH 78
Christ Is Coming: Prepare the Way (V1,D1,VG) LMGM 10
Every Valley (V1,D1,VG)   JS 326/BB
God Has Chosen Me (V1,D1,Vps,Dps) GP 546/JS 831/GC 682/GC2 669
God, Whose Purpose Is to Kindle (V1,D1,VG) RS 828/GC 714/GC2 704
*God’s Tender Mercy (DC)   PSL C217/SS
*Guide Me, Lord (Dps) RS 186
How Shall They Hear the Word of God (V1,D1) WOR 629
*John Was Sent from God (DE)   PSL C215/SS
Let the Valleys Be Raised (V1,VG,DG) GP 310/BB
Listen, My People (V1) CBW 309
*Lord, You Search Me and You Know Me (Dps) CBW 474
My Soul in Stillness Waits (VG,DG) RS 495/GC 328/GC2 336/SS
Now Bless the God of Israel (DG) RS 7/GC 5, 775/GC2 5
*O God, You Search Me (Dps)   JS 711/GP 601/GC2 509/MI-BB
Prepare the Way of the Lord (V1,D1,VG)  WOR 369/RS 491/GC 336/GC2 330/CBW 317
Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord (V1,D1,VG) LMGM 2
Ready the Way (V1,D1,VG)   JS 323/BB
*Secrets of My Heart (Dps) WC 441/WS
The Day Is Near (VG,VD) GC 768
The Great Forerunner of the Morn (VG,DG) WOR 698/RS 879/JS 515
We Will Drink the Cup (V1,D1) GC 709
When Jesus Came to Jordan (V2,D2) WOR 697/RS 878
When John Baptized by Jordan’s River (V2,D2) WOR 412/RS 538/GC2 390/JS 373/CBW 325/BB/SS
*Without Seeing You (V2) GC 844/GC2 842
*You Are Near (Dps) GP 619/GC 604/GC2 590/CBW 487/JS 606/PMB 722/WC 854/LMGM 184/MI-BB
You Have Anointed Me (V1,D1) RS 795/GC 676/GC2 660/GP 555
*Zechariah, Do Not Fear (VE)   IH 77