« Prev Church Poetry. Greek Hymns and Hymnists Next »

§ 94. Church Poetry. Greek Hymns and Hymnists.


See the Lit. in vol. III. § 113 (p. 575 sq.) and § 114 (p. 578), and add the following:

Cardinal Pitra: Hymnographie de l’église grecque. Rome 1867. By the same: Analecta Sacra Spicilegio Solesmensi parata, T. I. Par. 1876.

Wilhelm Christ et M. Paranikas: Anthologia Graeca carminum Christianorum. Lips. 1871. CXLIV and 268 pages. The Greek text with learned Prolegomena in Latin. Christ was aided by Paranikas, a member of the Greek church. Comp. Christ: Beiträge zur kirchlichen Literatur der Byzantiner. München 1870.

[?]. L. Jacobi (Prof. of Church Hist. in Halle): Zur Geschichte der griechischen Kirchenliedes (a review of Pitra’s Analecta), in Brieger’s “Zeitschrift für Kirchengesch., “vol. V. Heft 2, p. 177–250 (Gotha 1881).

For a small selection of Greek hymns in the original see the third volume of Daniel’s Thesaurus Hymnologicus (1855), and Bässler’s Auswahl altchristlicher Lieder (1858), p. 153–166.

For English versions see especially J. M. Neale: Hymns of the Eastern Church (Lond. 1862, third ed. 1866, 159 pages; new ed. 1876, in larger print 250 pages); also Schaff: Christ in Song (1869), which gives versions of 14 Greek (and 73 Latin) hymns. German translations in Bässler, l.c. p. 3–25.

[Syrian Hymnology. To the lit. mentioned vol. III. 580 add: Gust. Bickell: S. Ephraemi Syri Carmina Nisibena, additis prolegomenis et supplemento lexicorum syriacorum edidit, vertit, explicavit. Lips.] 1866. Carl Macke: Hymnen aus dem Zweiströmeland. Dichtungen des heil. Ephrem des Syrers aus dem syr. Urtext in’s Deutsche übertragen, etc. Mainz 1882. 270 pages. Macke is a pupil of Bickell and a successor of Zingerle as translator of Syrian church poetry.]


The general church histories mostly neglect or ignore hymnology, which is the best reflection of Christian life and worship.

The classical period of Greek church poetry extends from about 650 to 820, and nearly coincides with the iconoclastic controversy. The enthusiasm for the worship of saints and images kindled a poetic inspiration, and the chief advocates of that worship were also the chief hymnists.437437    Neale and Pitra point out this connection, and Jacobi (l.c. p. 210 sq.) remarks:Im Kampfe für die Bilder steigerte sich die Glut der sinnlichen Frömmigkeit, und mit dem Siege der Bilderverehrung im neunten Jahrhundert ist eine innerliche und aeusserliche Zunahme des Heiligenkultus und namentlich ein Wachsthum der Marienvehrung unverkennbar. Their memory is kept sacred in the Eastern church. Their works are incorporated in the ritual books, especially the Menaea, which contain in twelve volumes (one for each month) the daily devotions and correspond to the Latin Breviary.438438    The Μηναῖα(sc. βιβλία, Monatsbücher) are published at Venice in the Tipografia Greca (ἡ Ἑλληνικὴ τυπογραφία τοῦ φοίνικος). Each month has its separate title: Μηναῖον τοῦ Ἰανουαρίου or Μὴν Ἰανουάριος ,etc. January begins with the commemoration of the circumcision of our Lord and the commemoration of St. Basil the Great, and December ends with the μνήμη τῆς ὁσίας Μητρὸς ἡμῶν Μελάνης τῆσ Ῥωμαίας .The copy before me (from the Harvard University Library) is dated 1852, and printed in beautiful Greek type, with the directions in red ink. On older editions see Mone, Lat. Hymnen, II. p. x. sqq. The other books of the Greek Ritual are the Paracletice (Παρακλητική, sc. βίβλος) or great Octoechus (Ὀκτώηχος, sc. βίβλος), which contains the Sunday services the Triodion (Τριῴδιον, the Lent-volume), and the Pentecostarion (Πεντηκοστάριον, the office for Easter-tide). ” On a moderate computation,” says Neale, ” these volumes comprise 5,000 closely printed quarto pages, in double columns, of which at least 4,000 are poetry.” See the large works of Leo Allatius, De libris eccles. Graecorum; Goar, Euchologion sive Rituale Graecorum, and especially the Second volume of Neale’s History of the Holy Eastern Church (1850), p. 819 sqq. Many are still unpublished and preserved in convent libraries. They celebrate the holy Trinity and the Incarnation, the great festivals, and especially also the Virgin Mary, the saints and martyrs, and sacred icons.

The Greek church poetry is not metrical and rhymed, but written in rhythmical prose for chanting, like the Psalms, the hymns of the New Testament, the Gloria in Excelsis and the Te Deum. The older hymnists were also melodists and composed the music.439439    Hence they were called μελωδοίas well as ποιηταίin distinction from the mere ὑμνόγραφοι. The Greek service books are also music books. Christ discusses Byzantine music, and gives some specimens in Prol. p. CXI-CXLII. The stanzas are called troparia;440440    Τροπάριον, the diminutive of τρόπος, as modulus is of modus, was originally a musical term. the first troparion is named hirmos, because it strikes the tune and draws the others after it.441441    Εἰρμός, tractus, a train, series, was likewise originally a musical term like ἀκολουθίαand the Latin jubilatio, sequentia. See § 96. Three or more stanzas form an ode; three little odes are a triodion; nine odes or three triodia form a canon. The odes usually end with a doxology (doxa) and a stanza in praise of Mary the Mother of God (theotokion).442442    Θεοτοκίον, sc. τροπάριον(more rarely, but more correctly, with the accent on the ante-penultima, θεοτόκιον), from θεοτόκος, Deipara. The stauro-theotokion celebrates Mary at the cross, and corresponds to the Stabat Mater dolorosa of the Latins. A hymn with a tune of its own is called an idiomelon.443443    Ἱδιόμελον. There are several other designations of various kinds of poems, as ἀκολουθία(the Latin sequentia), ἀναβαθμοί(tria antiphona), ἀντίφωνον, ἀπολυτίκιον (breve troparium sub finem officii vespertini), ἀπόστιχα, αύτομελον, ἐξαποστειλάριον, ἐωθινά, κάθισμα, καταβασία, κοντάρια, μακαρισμοί, μεγαλυνάρια, οἶκοι, προσόμοια, στιχηρά, τριῴδια, τετραῴδα, διῴδια, ψαλτήριον, τροπολόγιον. These terms and technical forms are fully discussed by Christ in the Prolegomena. Comp. also the Introduction of Neale

This poetry fills, according to Neale, more than nine tenths or four fifths of the Greek service books. It has been heretofore very little known and appreciated in the West, but is now made accessible.444444    By Vormbaum (in the third volume of Daniel’s Thesaurus which needs reconstruction), Pitra, and Christ. The Continental writers seem to be ignorant of Dr. Neale, the best English connoisseur of the liturgical and poetic literature of the Greek church. His translations are, indeed, very free reproductions and transfusions, but for this very reason better adapted to Western taste than the originals. The hymn of Clement of Alexandria in praise of the Logos has undergone a similar transformation by Dr. Henry M. Dexter, and has been made useful for public worship. See vol. II. 231. It contains some precious gems of genuine Christian hymns, buried in a vast mass of monotonous, bombastic and tasteless laudations of unknown confessors and martyrs, and wonder-working images.445445    Even Neale, with all his admiration for the Greek Church, admits that the Menaea contain a “deluge of worthless compositions: tautology repeated till it becomes almost sickening; the merest commonplace, again and again decked in the tawdry shreds of tragic language, ind twenty or thirty times presenting the same thought in slightly varying terms.” (Hymns E.Ch. p. 88 sq., 3d ed.)

The Greek church poetry begins properly with the anonymous but universally accepted and truly immortal Gloria in Excelsis of the third century.446446    See vol. II. 227, and add to the Lit. there quoted: Christ, p. 38-40, who gives from the Codex Alexandrinus and other MSS. the Greek text of the morning hymn (the expanded Angelic anthem Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ) and two evening hymns Αἰνεῖτε, παῖδες . κύριον, and Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόξης) of the Greek church. The poems of Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 390), and Synesius of Cyrene (d. about 414), who used the ordinary classical measures, are not adapted and were not intended for public worship.447447    See vol. III. 581 and 921. Christ begins his collection with the hymns of Synesius, p. 3-23, and of Gregory Nazianzen, 23-32.

The first hymnist of the Byzantine period, is Anatolius patriarch of Constantinople (d. about 458). He struck out the new path of harmonious prose, and may be compared to Venantius Fortunatus in the West.448448    See the specimens in vol. III. 583-585. Neale begins his translations with Anatolius. Christ treats of him p. XLI, and gives his στιχηρὰ ἀναστάσιμαfind three ἰδιόμελα(hymns with their own melody), 113-117. More than a hundred poems in the Menaea and the Octoechus bear the name of Anatolius, but Christ conjectures that στιχηρὰ ἀνατολικά is a generic name, like κατανυκτικάand νεκρώσιμα.

We now proceed to the classical period of Greek church poetry.

In the front rank of Greek hymnists stands St. John Of Damascus, surnamed Mansur (d. in extreme old age about 780). He is the greatest systematic theologian of the Eastern church and chief champion of image-worship against iconoclasm under the reigns of Leo the Isaurian (717–741), and Constantinus Copronymus (741–775). He spent a part of his life in the convent of Mar Sâba (or St. Sabas) in the desolate valley of the Kedron, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.449449    See a description of this most curious structure in all Palestine, in my book Through Bible Lands (N. Y. 1879), p. 278 sqq. He was thought to have been especially inspired by the Virgin Mary, the patron of that Convent, to consecrate his muse to the praise of Christ. He wrote a great part of the Octoechus, which contains the Sunday services of the Eastern church. His canon for Easter Day is called “the golden Canon” or “the queen of Canons,” and is sung at midnight before Easter, beginning with the shout of joy, “Christ is risen,” and the response, “Christ is risen indeed.” His memory is celebrated December 4.450450    The poetry of John of D. in his Opera ed. Le Quien (Par. 1712), Tom. I. 673-693; Poëtae Graeci veteres (Colon. 1614), Tom. II. 737 sqq.; Christ, Anthol. gr. Prol. XLIV. sqq., p. 117-121, and p. 205-236. Vormbaum, in Daniel, III. 80-97, gives six of his odes in Greek; Bässler, 162-164, two (and two in German, 21, 22); Neale nine English versions. The best of his hymns and canons are Εἰς τὴν χριστοῦ γέννησιν(or εἰς τὴν θεογονίαν), Εἰς τὰ θεοφάνεια, Εἰς τὴν κυριακὴν τοῦ Πάσχα, Εἰς τὴν πεντεκοστήν, Εἰς τὴν ἀνάληψιν τοῦ Χριστοῦ,Εὐχή, Ἰδιόμελα ἐν ἀκολουθία τοῦ ἐξοδιαστικοῦ, Εἰς τὴν κοίμησιν τῆς θεοτόκου.. The last begins with this stanza (Christ, p. 229):
   Ἀνοίξω τὸ στόμα μου,

   καὶ πληρωθήσεται πνεύματος·

   καὶ λόγου ἐπεύξομαι τῇ βασιλίδι μητρί·

   καὶ ὀφθήσομαι φαιδρῶςπανηγυρίζων·

   καὶ ᾄσω γηθόμενος ταύτης τὰ θαύματα.

Next to him, and as melodist even above him in the estimation of the Byzantine writers, is St. Cosmas Of Jerusalem, called the Melodist. He is, as Neale says, “the most learned of the Greek poets, and the Oriental Adam of St. Victor.” Cosmas and John of Damascus were foster-brothers, friends and fellow-monks at Mar Sâba, and corrected each other’s compositions. Cosmas was against his will consecrated bishop of Maiuma near Gaza in Southern Palestine, by John, patriarch of Jerusalem. He died about 760 and is commemorated on the 14th of October. The stichos prefixed to his life says:


“Where perfect sweetness dwells, is Cosmas gone;

But his sweet lays to cheer the church live on.”451451    Gallandi, Bibl. Patrum, XIII. 234 sqq.; Christ, XLIX sq., 161-164. Christ calls him ”princeps melodorum graecorum,” and gives ten of his canons and several triodia; Daniel (III. 55-79) twelve odes. Among the best are Εἰς τὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ γέννησιν, Εἰς τὰ θεοφάνεια, Εἰς τὴν πεντηκοστήν, Πρὸς Χριστόν, Εις τὴν ὕψωσιν τοῦ σταυροῦ, Εἰς τὸ μέγα σάββατον. Neale has reproduced eight odes of Cosmas and a cento on the Transfiguration. The Nativity hymn begins (Christ p. 165):
   Χριστὸς γεννᾶται· δόξασατε·

   Χριστὸς ἐξ οὐρανῶν· ἀπαντήσατε·

   Χριστὸς ἐπὶ γῆς · ὑψώθητε·

   ᾄσατε τῷ κυρίῳ πᾶσα ἡ γῆ,

   καὶ ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ

   ἀνυμνήσατε, λαοί,

   ὅτι δεδοξασται.


The third rank is occupied by St. Theophanes, surnamed the Branded,452452    ̔οΓραπτός, with reference to his sufferings. one of the most fruitful poets. He attended the second Council of Nicaea (787). During the reign of Leo the Arminian (813) he suffered imprisonment, banishment and mutilation for his devotion to the Icons, and died about 820. His “Chronography” is one of the chief sources for the history of the image-controversy.453453    According to Christ (Prol. XLIV), he was after the restoration of the images in the churches of Constantinople, 842, elected metropolitan of Nicaea and died in peace. But according to the Bollandists and other authorities, he died much earlier in exile at Samothrace about 818 or 820, in consequence of his sufferings for the Icons. Neale reports that Theophanes was betrothed in childhood to a lady named Megalis, but persuaded her, on their wedding day, to retire to a convent. Christ gives several of his idiomela and stichera necrosima, p. 121-130. See also Daniel, III. 110-112, and Neale’s translations of the idiomela on Friday of Cheese-Sunday (i.e. Quinquagesima), and the stichera at the first vespers of Cheese-Sunday (90-95). The last is entitled by Neale: “Adam’s Complaint,” and he thinks that Milton, “as an universal scholar,” must, in Eve’s lamentation, have had in his eye the last stanza which we give in the text. But this is very doubtful. The Chronographia of Theophanes is published in the Bonn. ed. of the Byzantine historians, 1839, and in Migne’s “Patrol. Graeca,” Tom. 108 (1861). His biography see in the Acta Sanct. ed. Bolland. in XII. Martii.

The following specimen from Adam’s lament of his fall is interesting:


“Adam sat right against the Eastern gate,

By many a storm of sad remembrance tost:

O me! so ruined by the serpent’s hate!

O me! so glorious once, and now so lost!

So mad that bitter lot to choose!

Beguil’d of all I had to lose!

Must I then, gladness of my eyes, —

Must I then leave thee, Paradise,

And as an exile go?

And must I never cease to grieve

How once my God, at cool of eve,

Came down to walk below?

O Merciful! on Thee I call:

O Pitiful! forgive my fall!”


The other Byzantine hymnists who preceded or succeeded those three masters, are the following. Their chronology is mostly uncertain or disputed.

Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople in the reign of Heracleus (610–641), figures in the beginning of the Monotheletic controversy, and probably suggested the union formula to that emperor. He is supposed by Christ to be the author of a famous and favorite hymn Akathistos, in praise of Mary as the deliverer of Constantinople from the siege of the Persians (630), but it is usually ascribed to Georgius Pisida.454454    Christ (p. LII sq., p. 140-147) reasons chiefly from chronological considerations. The poem is called ἀκάθιστος(sc. ὕμνος) τῆςθεοτόκου, because it was chanted while priest and people were standing. During the singing of other hymns they were seated; hence the latter are called καθίσματα, (from καθίζεσθαι). See Christ, Prol. p. LXII and p. 54 sqq. Jacobi says of the Akathistos (l.c. p. 230): ” Was Enthusiasmus für die heilige Jungfrau, was Kenntniss biblischer Typen, überhaupt religiöser Gegenstände und Gedanken zu leisten vermochten, was Schmuck der Sprache. Gewandtheit des Ausdrucks, Kunst der Rhythmen und der Reime hinzufügen komnten, das ist hier in unübertroffenem Masse bewirkt.”

Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem (629), celebrated in Anacreontic metres the praises of Christ, the apostles, and martyrs, and wrote idiomela with music for the church service 455455    Christ, XXVII, XXXV, LIII, 43-47 (ἀνακρεόντικα), and 96 (ἰδιόμελατῶνΘεοφανείων). Daniel, III. 20-46, gives thirteen pieces of Sophronius from Pet. Metranga, Spicilegium Romanum, 1840, Tom. IV.

Maximus The Confessor (580–662), the leader and martyr of the orthodox dyotheletic doctrine in the Monotheletic controversy, one of the profoundest divines and mystics of the Eastern Church, wrote a few hymns.456456    Poetae Gr. vet. Tom. II. 192 sqq. Daniel, III. 97-103, gives three hymns, among them a beautiful ὕμνοςἱκετήριοςειςΧριστόνChrist omits Maximus.

Germanus (634–734), bishop of Cyzicus, then patriarch of Constantinople (715), was deposed, 730, for refusing to comply with the iconoclastic edicts of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian (717–741), and died in private life, aged about one hundred years. He is “regarded by the Greeks as one of their most glorious Confessors” (Neale). Among his few poetical compositions are stanzas on Symeon the Stylite, on the prophet Elijah, on the Decollation of John the Baptist, and a canon on the wonder-working Image in Edessa.457457    See his Opera in Migne’s “Patrol. Graeca” Tom. 98 (1865); and his poems in Christ, XLIII. 98 (ἰδιόμελονon the Nativity); Daniel, III. 79, a hymn in praise of Mary, beginning Σαλπίσωμεν ἐν σάλπιγγι ἀσμάτων, and ending with ascribing to her almighty power of intercession:
   Οὐδεν γὰρ ἀδύνατον τῇ μεσιτείᾳ σου.

   

Andrew Of Crete (660–732) was born at Damascus, became monk at Jerusalem, deacon at Constantinople, archbishop of Crete, took part in the Monotheletic Synod of 712, but afterwards returned to orthodoxy. In view of this change and his advocacy of the images, he was numbered among the saints. He is regarded as the inventor of the Canons. His “Great Canon” is sung right through on the Thursday of Mid-Lent week, which is called from that hymn. It is a confession of sin and an invocation of divine mercy. It contains no less than two hundred and fifty (Neale says, three hundred) stanzas.458458    Fr. Combefisius first edited the works of Andreas Cretensis, Par. 1644. Christ, 147-161, gives the first part of “the great canon” (about one-fourth), and a new canon in praise of Peter. The last is not in the Menaea but has been brought to light from Paris and Vatican MSS. by Card. Pitra. Daniel, III. 47-54, has seven hymns of Andreas, of which the first is on the nativity, beginning:
   Εὐφραίνεσθε δίκαιοι·

   Οὐρανοὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε·

   Σκιρτήσατε τὰ ὅρη,

   Τοῦ Χριστοῦ γεννηθέντος.ͅ

   Neale translated four: Stichera for Great Thursday; Troparia for Palm Sunday; a portion of the Great Canon; Stichera for the Second Week of the Great Fast. His Opera in Migne’s ” Patrol. Gr.” T. 97(1860), p. 1306sqq.

John of Damascus reduced the unreasonable length of the canons.

Another Andrew, called jAndreva” Puró” or Purrov”, is credited with eight idiomela in the Menaea, from which Christ has selected the praise of Peter and Paul as the best.459459    Christ, p. xlii. sq. and 83, αὐτόμελονειςτοὺςἀποστ. ΠέτρονκαὶΠαῦλον.See Men., June 29.

Stephen The Sabaite (725–794) was a nephew of John of Damascus, and spent fifty-nine years in the convent of Mar Sâba, which is pitched, like an eagle’s nest, on the wild rocks of the Kedron valley. He is commemorated on the 13th of July. He struck the key-note of Neale’s exquisite hymn of comfort, “Art thou weary,” which is found in some editions of the Octoechus. He is the inspirer rather than the author of that hymn, which is worthy of a place in every book of devotional poetry.460460    Christ and Daniel ignore Stephen. Neale calls the one and only hymn which he translated, “Idiomela in the Week of the First Oblique Tone,” and adds: “These stanzas, which strike me as very sweet, are not in all the editions of the Octoechus.” He ascribes to him also a poetical composition on the Martyrs of the monastery of Mar Sâba (March 20), and one on the Circumcision. “His style,” he says, “seems formed on that of S. Cosmas, rather than on that of his own uncle. He is not deficient in elegance and richness of typology, but exhibits something of sameness, and is occasionally guilty of very hard metaphors.”

Romanus, deacon in Berytus, afterwards priest in Constantinople, is one of the most original and fruitful among the older poets. Petra ascribes to him twenty-five hymns. He assigned him to the reign of Anastasius I. (491–518), but Christ to the reign of Anastasius II. (713–719), and Jacobi with greater probability to the time of Constantinus Pogonatus (681–685).461461    Christ, 131-140, gives his “Psalm of the Holy Apostles,” and a Nativity hymn. Comp. p. li. sq. Jacobi (p. 203 sq.) discusses the data and traces in Romanus allusions to the Monotheletic controversy, which began about a.d.630. He gives a German version in part of the beautiful description of the benefits of redemption, p. 221 sq.

Theodore Of The Studium (a celebrated convent near Constantinople) is distinguished for his sufferings in the iconoclastic controversy, and died in exile, 826, on the eleventh of November. He wrote canons for Lent and odes for the festivals of saints. The spirited canon on Sunday of Orthodoxy in celebration of the final triumph of image-worship in 842, is ascribed to him, but must be of later date as he died before that victory.462462    Christ, p. 101 sq.; Daniel, III. 101-109. Neale has translated four odes of Theodorus Studita, one on the judgment-day (ὁκύριοςἔρχεται). Pitra has brought to light from MSS. eighteen of his poems on saints. See his Opera in Migne ” Patr. Gr.” 99.

Joseph Of The Studium, a brother of Theodore, and monk of that convent, afterwards Archbishop of Thessalonica (hence also called Thessalonicensis), died in prison in consequence of tortures inflicted on him by order of the Emperor Theophilus (829–842). He is sometimes confounded (even by Neale) with Joseph Hymnographus; but they are distinguished by Nicephorus and commemorated on different days.463463    Christ, p. xlvii.: ”Nicephorus duos Iosephos hymnorum scriptores recenset, quorum alterum Studiorum monasterii socium, alterum peregrinum dicit. Priorem intelligo Iosephum fratrem minorem Theodori, Studiorum antistitis, cuius memoriae dies XIV. mensis Iulii consecratus est. Is ob morum integritatem et doctrina laudem Thessalonicensis ecclesiae archiepiscopus electus a Theophilo rege (829-842), qui in cultores imaginum saeviebat, in vincula coniectus et omni tormentorum genere adeo vexatus est, ut in carcere mortem occumberet. Alterius losephi, qui proprie ὑμνόγραφοςaudit, memoriam die III. mensis Aprilis ecclesia graeca concelebrat. Is peregrinus (ξένος) ab Nicephoro dictus esse dicitur, quod ex Sicilia insula oriundus erat et patria ab Arabibus capta et vastata cum matre et fratribus primum in Peloponnesum, deinde Thessalonicem confugit, qua in urbe monarchorum disciplnae severissimae sese addixit.”

Theoctistus Of The Studium (about 890) is the author of a “Suppliant Canon to Jesus,” the only thing known of him, but the sweetest Jesus-hymn of the Greek Church.464464    English translation by Neale. See below, p. 473.

Joseph, called Hymnographus (880), is the most prolific, most bombastic, and most tedious of Greek hymn-writers. He was a Sicilian by birth, at last superintendent of sacred vessels in a church at Constantinople. He was a friend of Photius, and followed him into exile. He is credited with a very large number of canons in the Mencaea and the Octoechus.465465    Christ, 242-253; Daniel, III. 112-114; Neale, p. 120-151; Bässler, p. 23, 165; Schaff, p. 240 sq. Joseph is also the author of hymns formerly ascribed to Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, during the Monotheletic controversy, as Paranikas has shown (Christ, Prol., p. liii.).

Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople (784), was the chief mover in the restoration of Icons and the second Council of Nicaea (787). He died Feb. 25, 806. His hymns are Unimportant.466466    Neale notices him, but thinks it not worth while to translate his poetry.

EUTHYMIUS, usually known as Syngelus or Syncellus (died about 910), is the author of a penitential canon to the Virgin Mary, which is much esteemed in the East.467467    Κανὼνεἰςτὴνὑπεραγίανθεοτόκον. See Daniel, III. 17-20.

Elias, bishop of Jerusalem about 761, and Orestes, bishop of the same city, 996–1012, have been brought to light as poets by the researches of Pitra from the libraries of Grotta Ferrata, and other convents.

In addition to these may be mentioned Methodius (846)468468    Not to be confounded with Methodius Eubulius, of Patara, the martyr (d. 311), who is also counted among the poets for his psalm of the Virgins in praise of chastity (παρθένιον); see vol. II. 811, and Christ, p. 33-37. Bässler (p.4 sq.) gives a German version of it by Fortlage. Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 891), Metrophanes of Smyrna (900), Leo VI., or the Philosopher, who troubled the Eastern Church by a fourth marriage (886–917), Symeon Metaphrastes (Secretary and Chancellor of the Imperial Court at Constantinople, about 900), Kasias, Nilus Xanthopulus, Joannes Geometra, and Mauropus (1060). With the last the Greek hymnody well nigh ceased. A considerable number of hymns cannot be traced to a known author.469469    Pitra concludes his collection with eighty-three anonymous hymns, thirty-two of which he assigns to the poets of the Studium. See also Daniel, III. 110-138, and the last hymns in Neale’s translations.

We give in conclusion the best specimens of Greek hymnody as reproduced and adapted to modern use by Dr. Neale.


’Tis the Day of Resurrection.
(Ἀναγστάσεως ἡμέρα.)


By St. John of Damascus.


’Tis the Day of Resurrection,

Earth, tell it out abroad!

The Passover of gladness,

The Passover of God!

From death to life eternal,

From earth unto the sky,

Our Christ hath brought us over,

With hymns of victory.


Our hearts be pure from evil,

That we may see aright

The Lord in rays eternal

Of resurrection light:

And, listening to His accents,

May hear, so calm and plain,

His own “All hail!”—and hearing,

May raise the victor strain.


Now let the heavens be!

Let earth her song begin!

Let the round world keep triumph,

And all that is therein:

In grateful exultation

Their notes let all things blend,

For Christ the Lord hath risen,

Our joy that hath no end.



Jesu, name all names above.

(̓Ihsou’ glukuvtate.)


By St. Theoctistus of the Studium.


Jesu, name all names above,

Jesu, best and dearest,

Jesu, Fount of perfect love,

Holiest, tenderest, nearest!

Jesu, source of grace completest,

Jesu truest, Jesu sweetest,

Jesu, Well of power divine,

Make me, keep me, seal me Thine!

Jesu, open me the gate

Which the sinner entered,

Who in his last dying state

Wholly on Thee ventured.

Thou whose wounds are ever pleading,

And Thy passion interceding,

From my misery let me rise

To a home in Paradise!


Thou didst call the prodigal;

Thou didst pardon Mary:

Thou whose words can never fall

Love can never vary,

Lord, amidst my lost condition

Give—for Thou canst give—contrition!

Thou canst pardon all mine ill

If Thou wilt: O say, “I will!”


Woe, that I have turned aside

After fleshly pleasure!

Woe, that I have never tried

For the heavenly treasure!

Treasure, safe in homes supernal;

Incorruptible, eternal!

Treasure no less price hath won

Than the Passion of the Son!


Jesu, crowned with thorns for me,

Scourged for my transgression!

Witnessing, through agony,

That Thy good confession;

Jesu, clad in purple raiment,

For my evils making payment;

Let not all thy woe and pain,

Let not Calvary be in vain!


When I reach Death’s bitter sea,

And its waves roll higher,

Help the more forsaking me,

As the storm draws nigher:

Jesu, leave me not to languish,

Helpless, hopeless, full of anguish!

Tell me,—“Verily, I say,

Thou shalt be with me to-day!”



Art thou weary?

(Kovpon te kai; kavmaton.)


By St. Stephen The Sabaite.


Art thou weary, art thou languid,

Art thou sore distrest?

“Come to me”—saith One—“and coming

Be at rest!”


Hath He marks to lead me to Him,

If He be my Guide?

“In His feet and hands are wound-prints,

And His side.”


Is there diadem, as Monarch,

That His brow adorns?

“Yea, a crown in very surety,

But of thorns!”


If I find Him, if I follow,

What His guerdon here?

“Many a sorrow, many a labor,

Many a tear.”


If I still hold closely to Him,

What hath He at last?

Sorrow vanquished, labor ended,

Jordan past!”


If I ask Him to receive me,

Will He say me nay?

Not till earth, and not till heaven

Pass away!”


Finding, following, keeping, struggling

Is He sure to bless?

Angels, martyrs, prophets, virgins,

Answer, Yes!”




« Prev Church Poetry. Greek Hymns and Hymnists Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |