Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

Healing the Leper" (8)

Eighteen stanzas, with the acrostic TOY TAIIEINOY PΩMANOY ("of/by the humble Romanos"). In the manuscripts there are several exceptional variations in the refrain, which I have regularized to the long form adopted by Grosdidier de Matons for his edition. 1


Wednesday of the week after Easter

The scriptural source of this miracle in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 8: 1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:13-16) is clearly indicated by Romanos' citation of all three evangelists at stanza 4.3-4. The narrative is straightforward, but the poet builds sympathy for the victim and some suspense in the leper's soliloquy. This is followed by the Melodist's invention of a central dialogue between the leper and Christ (6-15). The expansion of the genetic appeal ("Master, if you wish, cure me") is signaled by the introductory phrase "His words may have been such" (kai phēsi toioutous logous) (6.3). This sort of formula is frequently used by Romanos when he deviates from a scriptural source or brings invented dramatic movement to the scene.

The fairly scanty material of the original biblical narrative almost invites the Melodist to digress -- but with fine homiletic point -- in three instances: (1) a luridly metaphorical description of the disease (stanza 5); (2) an involved comparison (10): just as an unlettered person employs a skilled scribe to frame a petition to a king, so too does the leper use his faith as an adviser in his appeal to Christ, the benevolent Lord; 2(3) two stanzas (16-17) of anti-Arian theological polemic, which are linked to the topic by the fact that both leprosy and heresy were "mortified" and fled at the Lord's command.

-69-

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Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Citations and Abbreviation xv
  • Concordance of Kontakion Numbers xvii
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Notes 36
  • Part 2 - The Sung Sermons 41
  • "The First Humans" 43
  • Notes 44
  • "The Nativity I" (1) 49
  • Notes 50
  • "The Presentation in the Temple" (4) 60
  • Note 61
  • Healing the Leper" (8) 69
  • Notes 70
  • "The Sinful Woman" (10) 77
  • "The Man Possessed by Demons" (11) 86
  • Notes 87
  • "Judas" (17) 96
  • Notes 97
  • "Mary at the Cross" (19) 106
  • Note 107
  • "The Passion of Christ" (20) 115
  • Note 116
  • "The Victory of the Cross (22)" 125
  • Notes 126
  • "The Resurrection Vi" (29) 135
  • "Abraham and Isaac" (41) 148
  • Notes 149
  • "The Temptation of Joseph" (44) 158
  • Notes 162
  • "Repentance: Jonah and Nineveh" (52) 176
  • Note 177
  • "Earthquakes and Fires" (54) 184
  • Notes 185
  • "The Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I" (57) 196
  • Notes 198
  • "The Akathistos Hymn" 207
  • Notes 208
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 227
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