Ephesians 4:14-19 Luke 6:12-19
Wisdom of Sirach 41, 42; Psalm 77:18·37; Proverbs 16:11·15; Ephesians 3
He was born in Emessa in Syria, probably of Jewish parents. He served as a deacon in Beirut, then in Constantinople at the time of Patriarch Euphemius (490-496). He was illiterate, had no musical training, and was a poor singer; thus he was despised by many of the more cultivated clergy. One night, after Romanos had prayed to the Mother of God, she appeared to him in a dream, held out a piece of paper and told him to swallow it. On the following day, the Nativity of Christ, Romanos went to the ambon and, with an angelic voice, sang 'Today the Virgin...', which is still sung as the Kontakion of the Feast. All present were amazed at the completely unexpected beauty of the hymn and of Romanos' singing. St Romanos went on to compose more than a thousand Kontakia (which were once long hymns, not the short verses used in church today). He is almost certainly the author of the sublime Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, which has served as the model for all other Akathists. He reposed in peace, while still a deacon of the Great Church in Constantinople. Many of his hymns were inspired by the hymns of St Ephraim of Syria. The influence of Middle Eastern music on the hymnography of the Church is incalculable. Many of those who established the form of the Church's music were Syrians: two noted examples are St Romanos and St John of Damascus, who composed the Octoechos, the Pascha service, and the Funeral Service. Their music was in turn modeled on the music of the Hebrew temple. The Byzantine musical tradition has descended without break from the music sung in Christ's time, and presumably by Christ Himself.
Wisdom of Sirach 39:12-40:30; Psalm 77:1·17; Proverbs 16:6·10; Ephesians 2
Ephesians 3:8-21 Luke 5:33-39
He was born into a powerful boyar family in the city of Galich. Early in life he was drawn to the ascetical life, and was distressed when his parents arranged for him to be married at the age of only fifteen. By a mysterious providence, both his parents died before the wedding could be held, and St Gregory very soon distributed his considerable wealth to the poor, freed all his serfs, and went to the nearest monastery. Such was his holiness of life that he rose to be abbot of the monastery, but as in his youth he felt burdened by the admiration and attention of men, so he left for the monastery of St Dionysius of Glushitsa, where he strove to live a hidden life. His starets, St Dionysius, discerned Gregory's spiritual gifts and wanted him to found his own monastery, but the Saint resisted, desiring only to live in humility and obedience, unknown to the world. At the age of 104 Gregory, with his elder's blessing, went to live as a hermit in a small cell on the banks of the River Pelshma. After a few years other monks came to live the hesychastic life with him and, as his elder had desired, Gregory against his will became the abbot of a new monastery. Abbot Gregory excelled not only in prayer but in his works of love for the poor, many of whom came to him in times of famine, when he would give them the small reserves of the monastery. More than once he traveled to Moscow to rebuke the Princes for their evil deeds. One of these, Prince Basil II, was so angered by the 'presumption' of the Saint that he had him thrown from a bridge into a deep gorge, but he emerged miraculously unharmed. At the age of 127, St Gregory felt his end approaching and prepared himself. He told his disciples to throw his body into a swamp when he died, but after his repose they disobeyed and gave him honorable burial. A beautiful fragrance filled the church and, for the first time, a miracle of healing was performed through the Saint's relics, which from that time forward were the source of countless wonders.
Wisdom of Sirach 38:1-39:11; Psalm 76:11·21; Proverbs 16:1·5; Ephesians 1
Ephesians 2:19-3:7 Luke 5:12-16