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Romanus

Short Name: Romanus
Full Name: Romanus

Romanus. The chief of the Middle School of Greek hymnwriters. He was a native of Emesa, deacon of Berytus, and became attached to the church of Blacherno at Constantinople. In that church he had a vision of the Mother of God, who gave him a piece of a roll to eat. He did so, and found himself endowed with the power of making Contakia (Neale, History of the Eastern Church, quoting Mensæa). He is said to have written a thousand of these poems, but whether this means a thousand of the long strophes, which are intercalated among the Odes in the present Greek office books, or a thousand of the long poems, which Cardinal Pitra has discovered under the name of Contakia, cannot be determined. The date of his pieces must be found either as 491-518 or 713-719, the reigns of Anastasius the 1st or the 2nd, as he is said to have come to Constantinople in the reign of Anastasius. The desuetude into which his hymns had fallen in the 8th century is perhaps in favour of the earlier date, and the long hymn of Methodius at such an early period as 311 allows the possibility of such long productions at the close of the 5th century. Of his hymns one only has been rendered into English. It is a Contakio, or short hymn, found in the office for Christmas Day… and republished by Dr. Littledale in his Offices, &c, of the Hymns of the Eastern Church, 1863, p. 76. Dr. Littledale's translation in blank verse is, "Bethlehem hath opened Eden” same work, p. 197. This has been turned into 8.6.8.6.7.7 measure by W. Chatterton Dix, and was published in Lyra Messianica, 1864, p. 102. [Rev.H. Leigh Bennett, M.A.]

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


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