St. John of Damascus

St. John of Damascus
Short Name: St. John of Damascus
Full Name: John of Damascus, Saint
Birth Year (est.): 675
Death Year (est.): 787

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wrote about science, philosophy, and theology.

Bert Polman
John of Damascus, St. The last but one of the Fathers of the Greek Church, and the greatest of her poets (Neale). He was of a good family in Damascus, and educated by the elder Cosmas in company with his foster-brother Cosmas the Melodist (q. v.). He held some office under the Caliph. He afterwards retired to the laura of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, along with his foster-brother. There he composed his theological works and his hymns. He was ordained priest of the church of Jerusalem late in life. He lived to extreme old age, dying on the 4th December, the day on which he is commemorated in the Greek calendar, either in his 84th or 100th year (circa 780). He was called, for some unknown reason, Mansur, by his enemies. His fame as a theologian rests on his work, the first part of which consists of philosophical summaries, the second dealing with heresies, and the third giving an account of the orthodox faith. His three orations in favour of the Icons, from which he obtained the name of Chrysorrhous and The Doctor of Christian Art, are very celebrated. The arrangement of the Octoechusin accordance with the Eight Tones was his work, and it originally contained no other Canons than his. His Canons on the great Festivals are his highest achievements. In addition to his influence on the form and music, Cardinal Pitra attributes to him the doctrinal character of the later Greek hymnody. He calls him the Thomas Aquinas of the East. The great subject round which his hymns are grouped is The Incarnation, developed in the whole earthly career of the Saviour. In the legendary life of the saint the Blessed Virgin Mary is introduced as predicting this work: the hymns of John of Damascus should eclipse the Song of Moses, rival the cherubim, and range all the churches, as maidens beating their tambours, round their mother Jerusalem (Pitra, Hymn. Grecque, p. 33). The legend illustrates not only the dogmatic cast of the hymns, but the introduction of the Theotokion and Staurotheotokion, which becomes the prevalent close of the Odes from the days of St. John of Damascus: the Virgin Mother presides over all. The Canons found under the name of John Arklas (one of which is the Iambic Canon at Pentecost) are usually attributed to St. John of Damascus, and also those under the name of John the Monk. Some doubt, however, attaches to the latter, because they are founded on older rhythmical models which is not the case with those bearing the name of the Damascene, and they are not mentioned in the ancient Greek commentaries on his hymns. One of these is the Iambic Canon for Christmas.

His numerous works, both in prose and verse, were published by Le Quien, 1712; and a reprint of the same with additions by Migne, Paris, 1864. Most of his poetical writings are contained in the latter, vol. iii. pp. 817-856, containing those under the title Carmina; and vol. iii. pp. 1364-1408, the Hymni. His Canon of SS. Peter & Paul is in Hymnographie Grecque, by Cardinal Pitra, 1867. They are also found scattered throughout the Service Books of the Greek Church, and include Iambic Canons on the Birth of Christ, the Epiphany, and on Pentecost; Canons on Easter, Ascension, the Transfiguration, the Annunciation, and SS. Peter & Paul: and numerous Idiomela. In addition, Cardinal Mai found a manuscript in the Vatican and published the same in his Spicilegium Romanum, which contained six additional Canons, viz.: In St. Basilium; In St. Chrysostomum; In St. Nicolaum; In St. Petrum; In St. Georgium, and In St. Blasium. But M. Christ has urged grave objections to the ascription of these to St. John of Damascus (Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christorium, p. xlvii.). Daniel's extracts in his Thesaurus Hymnologicus, vol. iii. pp. 80, 97, extend to six pieces. Dr. Neale's translations of portions of these works are well known.

[Rev. H. Leigh Bennett, M.A.]

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

Wikipedia Biography

Saint John of Damascus (Medieval Greek Ἰωάννης ὁ Δαμασκηνός, Ioánnis o Damaskinós, Byzantine Greek pronunciation: [ioˈanis o ðamasciˈnos]; Latin: Ioannes Damascenus); also known as John Damascene and as Χρυσορρόας / Chrysorrhoas (literally "streaming with gold"—i.e., "the golden speaker"; c. 675 or 676 – 4 December 749) was a Syrian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.

Texts by St. John of Damascus (53)sort descendingAsInstances
忠心聖徒當高聲,歡然唱出凱歌 (Zhōngxīn shèngtú dāng gāo shēng, huān rán chàng chū kǎigē)John of Damascus (Author)2
Aldaw ti PanaguñgarJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Bend to our hymns, RedeemerJohn of Damascus, 685-649 (Author)2
Bethlehem rejoices!St. John of Damascus (Author)5
Christ, We Turn Our Eyes to TheeJohn Damascene (Author)2
Come, let us drink of that new riverJohn Damascene (Author)6
Come and let us drink of that new riverJohn of Damascus, c.675-746 (Author)4
Come, God’s people, sing for joySt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Come, let us drink the water newSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Come, ye faithful, raise the strainJohn Damascene (Author)308
¡El día de la Pascua, Christianos, proclamad!Juan Damasceno, siglo VIII (Author)2
En el glorioso díaJuan de Damasco (Author)2
Ere the morn in beauty wakeSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
From my lips in their defilementSt. Joannes Damascus (Author)3
When Israel went out from EgyptJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Habakkuk in ancient songJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Hail the Resurrection day! Let the people shout for gladnessSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
He is risen! He is risen! Christ the Lord is risenJohn of Damascus (Author)2
He who in the fiery furnaceSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
PrayersSt. John of Damascus (Author)1
If the dark and awful tombJohn of Damascus (Author)4
Into the dim earth's lowest parts descendingJohn Damascene (Author)5
Into the fiery furnace flungJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Jesu, give thy servantsJohn of Damascus (Author)2
La tago releviĝa! Ho mond' kun laŭta kri'St. John of Damascus (Author (Greek))2
Let heaven rejoice, and earth be gladJohn of Damascus (Author)1
Let Us Rise in Early MorningJohn Damascene (Author)8
Now let the heavens be joyfulJohn of Damascus, c. 696-c. 754 (Author)3
On the Rock of Thy CommandmentsJohn Damascene (Author)2
Our hymns receive, RedeemerJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Prophet of the Lord, beside usSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Reconciliation's Plan DevisingJohn Damascene (Author)2
Shine forth, O new JerusalemSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Shine, shine, O new JerusalemJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Stand on Thy Watch-tower, Habakkuk the SeerJohn Damascene (Author)4
Take the last kiss, the last foreverJohn Damascene (Author)3
The tuneful sound of musicJohn of Damascus (Author)4
The wonder working MasterJohn of Damascus, 675-749 (Author)4
They who with Mary cameJohn of Damascus (Author)3
This is the chosen day of GodSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Those eternal bowersJohn Damascene (Author)36
Thou hallowed chosen morn of praiseJohn Damascene (Author)10
Thou New Jerusalem, Arise and ShineJohn Damascene (Author)4
The day of ResurrectionJohn Damascene (Author)391
To depths of earth Thou didst descendSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Today in Bethlehem hearJohn of Damascus (Author)3
Venid fieles, y cantadJuan de Damasco, siglo VIII (Author)2
Vinde vós, fiéis, cantarSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Vuestro himno hoy cantadJuan de Damasco (Author)2
What sweet of life endurethJohn of Damascus, 675-749 (Author)3
When, O King ImmortalSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Who From the Fiery Furnace Saved the ThreeJohn Damascene (Author)5
With pain earth's joys are mingledJohn of Damascus (Author)2

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