S. Joseph of the Studium.
The third period of Greek Hymnology opens with its most
voluminous writer, S. Joseph of the Studium. A Sicilian by birth, he
left his native country on its occupation by the Mahometans in 830, and
went to Thessalonica, where he embraced the monastic life. Thence he
removed to Constantinople, but, in the second Iconoclastic persecution,
he seems to have felt no vocation for confessorship, and went to Rome.
Taken by pirates, he was for some years a slave in Crete, where he
converted many to the Faith; and having obtained his liberty, and
returned to the Imperial City, he stood high in the favour, first
of S. Ignatius, then of Photius, whom he accompanied into exile. On the
death of that great man he was recalled, and gave himself up entirely to
Hymnology. A legend, connected with his death, is related of him. A citizen
of Constantinople betook himself to the church of S. Theodore in the hope
of obtaining some benefit from the intercessions of that martyr. He waited
three days in vain; then, just as he was about to leave the church in despair,
S. Theodore appeared. “I,” said the vision, “and the other
Saints, whom the poet Joseph has celebrated in his Canons, have been
attending his soul to Paradise: hence my absence from my church.” The
Eastern Communion celebrates him on the 3rd of April. But of the innumerable
compositions of this most laborious writer, it would be impossible to find
many which, to Western taste, give the least sanction to the position which he
holds in the East. The insufferable tediousness consequent on the
necessity of filling eight Odes with the praises of a Saint of whom
nothing, beyond the fact of his martyrdom, is known, and doing this
sixty or seventy different times,—the verbiage, the bombast, the
trappings with which Scriptural simplicity is elevated to the
taste of a corrupt Court, are each and all scarcely to be paralleled.
He is by far the most prolific of the hymn-writers.