Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message October 4, 2020

Wherever there are spiritual melodies, there does the grace of the Spirit come, sanctifying the mouth and soul.

 St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday is dedicated as National Church Music Sunday. This observance of our chanters and  choir members falls on the Sunday following the Feast of St. Romanos the Melodist on October first.

Saint Romanos the Melodist was born in the fifth century in the Syrian city of Emesa of Jewish parents. After moving to Constantinople, he became a church sacristan in the temple of Hagia Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blachernae church beyond the city.

Saint Romanos was not a talented reader or singer. Once, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the Kathisma verses. He read so poorly that another reader had to take his place. The clergy ridiculed Romanos, which devastated him.

On the day of the Nativity, the Mother of God appeared to the grief-stricken youth in a vision while he was praying before her Kyriotissa icon. She gave him a scroll and commanded him to eat it. Thus was he given the gift of understanding, composition, and hymnography.

That evening at the all-night Vigil Saint Romanos sang, in a wondrous voice, his first Kontakion: “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One…” All the hymns of Saint Romanus became known as kontakia, in reference to the Virgin’s scroll. Saint Romanus was also the first to write in the form of the Oikos, which he incorporated into the all-night Vigil at his places of residence (In Greek, “oikos”).

For his zealous service Saint Romanos was ordained as a deacon and became a teacher of song. Until his death, which occurred about the year 556, the Hierodeacon Romanos the Melodist composed nearly a thousand hymns, many of which are still used by Christians to glorify the Lord. About eighty survive.

This Sunday we will pray for and acknowledge the dedicated people who sing praises to God at our St. Anna Church. We honor those who chant the services today. And we support and pray for the members of our choir who patiently await the day we are permitted to utilize the choir in the church once again. To all of you, I offer my sincere thanks and the blessings of God.

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas