Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

( 1.17) is the source of the apostle's words at 6.1-2. Romanos' emphasis on memorable examples of God's desire to be importuned by afflicted humans is cleverly worked out in the moralizing first half of the kontakion (1-14); then the poet applies this moral message to his memory-numbed congregation by recalling their reactions to the recent disasters (15.1-3). Flattery of the imperial pair and a reprise of all the topics occur in a final stanza of appeal. This homiletic (and structural) strategy leaves its mark on the diction of both sections. In the contextual section there are frequent "lyric" phrases from the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament and the epistles of the New. Echoes from the prophets, Psalms, and Revelation help to create an appropriately apocalyptic tone in the second section. In short, this kontakion merits its latest editor's high praise as "a most polished poem, as original in its topic as it is in its homiletic vision." 5


NOTES
1.
See Browning, Justinian and Theodora, 69-72.
2.
Topping, On Earthquakes and Fires, 22-35, and Browning, Justinian and Theodora, 73-77; Grosdidier de Matons reviews this background and the earthquakes and fires early in Justinian's reign: Hymnes V, 455-68.
3.
On Justinian's "rivalry" with the archetypical builder, King Solomon, see the chapter A New Temple of Solomon? in Harrison, A Temple for Byzantium.
4.
The tradition of giving women a role in imperial religious matters continued in other regions of Eastern Christianity. Vladimir, the newly baptized king of the Rus', at Kiev, is praised in an eleventh-century sermon: "As he [ Constantine] with his Mother Helen brought the Cross from Jerusalem and spread it over all the earth, affirming the faith, so you [ Vladimir] with your Grandmother Olga carried the cross from the new Jerusalem, from Constantinople, and having placed it in your land, affirmed the faith." See Hurwitz, "Metropolitan Hilarion's Sermon", 329.
5.
Hymnes V, 458: poème très soigné, trés original par son sujet comme par sa conception."

Earthquakes and Fires

I. Lord, do not ignore those gripped by affliction,
those who cry out in repentance to you, Savior:
"In your compassion give all men
eternal life."

4 and refrain passim: 2M.7:9, Mt.19:16 L

-185-

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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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