Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview
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reply, then, serves as the bridge to the final stanza, in which the Melodist asks that all humans, through the Virgin's prayers, be delivered from evil.

As for the prophecy that the infant Christ is destined for "the rise and the fall of many," Simeon's explanation cleverly and convincingly avoids any hint of divine predestination of human fate (10-11). The "sign of contradiction" is the cross and the crucified Lord; heretics will engage in all sorts of controversy about his nature (12) and even his mother Mary will be momentarily confused when the "sword" of his suffering pierces her heart (13). A similar interpretation of these passages is found in a pastoral letter by the fourth-century doctor of the Eastern church, Basil of Caesarea. 1 There is a distinct possibility that Romanos based his exegesis on this source. If so, this adaptation illustrates his marvelous ability to weave significant biblical theology into the highly poetic texture of his sung sermons.


NOTE
1
See Bickersteth, "A Source for Romanos' Contakion on the Hypapanté".

The Presentation in the Temple

I. Let the choirs of angels stand awestruck at the miracle of the
Presentation.

We mortals shall raise our voices in a hymn of praise,
as we behold the ineffable descent of God into our midst.

The powers of the heavens tremble before him

whom Simeon now cradles in his aged arms --5

the only Lord of compassion.

[II. Lord, you became flesh by a virgin for our salvation
and were cradled as an infant in the arms of a temple-elder.
Now raise on high the majesty of our faithful emperor and his
wife.

Word of God, bolster them with your divine power,

and glorify their hallowed reign, 5

-61-

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