Venerable Roman the Melodist
Oct. 14 (Oct 1 church calendar).
Venerable Roman, called "the Melodist," was a Greek by origin; he was born in the middle of the 5th century in the Syrian town of Emesa. Upon graduation from school he became the dean of the church of Resurrection in Beirut. When Emperor Anasthasius Dikor (495-518) came to power, Roman moved to Constantinople to become a cleric at the St. Sofia church of the Patriarch. He was tirelessly assisting the church services despite the fact that he was endowed with neither vocal talent, nor musical ear. And still Patriarch Euphimius cared for Roman and even drew him closer to himself, appreciating Roman's sincere faith and virtuous life.
Patriarch's sympathy to Roman invoked jealousy in some of the church's clerics and they started to harass Roman. During one of the pre-Christmas services these clerics pushed Roman forward on to the ambo and made him sing. The church was full of believers, the service was being carried out by the Patriarch himself and attended by the Emperor and his court people. Embarrassed and scared, Saint Roman was singing incoherently with his trembling voice and got disgraced in front of the entire parish. Back at home and completely depressed, Saint Roman prayed arduously and very long that night in front of the icon of the Mother of God, pouring out his grief to her. Mother of God appeared to him, gave him a paper scroll and told him to eat it. A miracle happened: Roman was endowed with a beautiful melodic voice and a poetic talent too. In a spell of inspiration he created his famous kontakion to the Christmas feast: "Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable one; Angels with shepherds glorify Him and the magi journey with the star: since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child. (Kontakion is a short prayer expressing the essence of the feast).
On the next day, Saint Roman came to the church for the vigil before Christmas. He insisted to be permitted to sing on the ambo and this time he sang his hymn "Today the Virgin..." so beautifully that all people were exalted. The Emperor and the Patriarch thanked Saint Roman, and people called him Melodist. From that time on, Saint Roman beautified the services with his wonderful singing and ardent prayers.
Loved by everyone, Saint Roman became a teacher of singing at Constantinople and contributed a lot to making Orthodox services still more beautiful. His poetic talent gained him an honorable place among the church composers. He is believed to be the author of over a thousand prayers and hymns devoted to various feasts. His most famous prayer is the akathist to the Annunciation of Theotokos which is sung on the 5th Saturday of the Great lent. It became a model for other akathists. Holy Roman died in 556.
Troparion, Tone 4
Thou didst gladden Christ's Church by thy melodies/ like an inspired heavenly trumpet./ For thou wast enlightened by the Mother of God/ and didst shine on the world as God's poet./ We lovingly honor thee, O righteous Romanus.
Kontakion, Tone 8
From thy childhood divine virtues and gifts of the Spirit were bestowed on thee, O wise Romanus./ Thou wast a precious adornment of the Church with thy beautiful chanting, O blessed one./ We entreat thee to grant us thy divine gift that we may cry to thee:/ Rejoice, O most blessed Father, comeliness of the Church.
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
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