Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

"The Victory of the Cross (22)"

Eighteen stanzas with the acrostic TOY TATIEINOY PflMANOY ("of/by
the humble Romanos").


Holy Saturday

The closest thing to a scriptural source-and it is only allusively the-
matic -- for this kontakion is a verse from 2 Corinthians 15:55: "Death,
where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" The plot of the en-
tire work is apocryphal: an infernal debate between Hades and the ser-
pent Belial on the impact of Christ's crucifixion on their domain. 1 Ro-
manos' fondness for and frequent variations on the "Harrowing of Hell"
are discussed in some detail in the Introduction and need not be repeated
here. It should be noted, however, that this kontakion is the Melodist's
most fully developed and ingeniously executed example of this important
Easter theme.

The structure is simple: a series of alternating stanzas of argument
(1-11), followed by a Stygian oratorio of lament, chanted "in counter-
point" (12.2.). This dirge, interrupted only by a momentary misapplica-
tion of Christ's words "Father, forgive them" (14.6-12), continues for six
stanzas, to which is added a traditional closing prayer on behalf of the
congregation.

In this work there are a number of notable instances of Romanos' fa-
vorite exegetical technique, typology. Each instance involves a compari-
son between the redemptive wood of Christ's cross and some Old Testa-
ment example of wood as a source of protection or benefit: Elisha's stick
(3.6-12); Moses' rod (5.9-12); the weapons of Esther, Jael, and Joshua

-125-

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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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