Cosmas the Melodian

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Called also Hagiopolites, Greek liturgical hymn writer; b. Jerusalem, c. 706; d. c. 760. Orphaned early in life, Cosmas was adopted by the father of john damascene. Together with John, he studied under an Italian monk and poet also named Cosmas. This circumstance has caused confusion concerning the authenticity of some of the Melodian's poetry, and his career is occasionally confused with that of John Damascene. A Vita attributed to John VI, Patriarch of Jerusalem (c. end of 11th century) must be used with caution. Cosmas entered the laura of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 732 and in 743 was made bishop of Maiuma, near Gaza. He is famous in the Eastern Church for his hymns, especially his 14 canons (κανόνες), or chants, for the feasts of Easter, Christmas, and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which have been incorporated into the Byzantine liturgy. His knowledge of the Church's teaching is evident in his poetry, but he sacrifices clarity of thought for poetic form. He is regarded as the author of a prose commentary on the poems of gregory of nazianzus and is venerated as a saint in the East, where his cult spread along with his hymns.

Feast: Oct. 14 (Eastern Church).

Bibliography: a. mai, Spicilegium Romanum (Rome 183944) 2:1306. Patrologia Graeca ed. j. p. migne 38:339680. w. von christ and m. k. paranikas, eds., Anthologia graeca carminum christianorum (Leipzig 1871). t. e. detorakĒes, Kosmas ho Melōdos, vios kai ergo (Thessalonica 1979). h. j. w. tillyard, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 28 (1928) 2537, music. g. calio, Bibliotheca sanctorum (Rome 1961) 4:219221. j. pargoire, L'Église byzantine (Paris 1905). b. altaner, Patrology (New York 1960) 635636, 645. a. chappet, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 190753) 3.2:299397.

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