Andrew Mellas, St. Andrew’s Theological College & University of Sydney.
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Part of the Historical Studies in Christian Liturgies webinar series
The hymns of Romanos the Melodist sought to shape an emotional and liturgical community in Constantinople. Retelling the sacred stories of Scripture, they became liturgical scripts for the faithful, teaching them to yearn for compunction, weep with grief and dance for joy. Amidst the liturgical mystagogy that hymnody, iconography and sacred space evoked, the emotions of the singer could mirror the feelings the hymnographer’s song betokened. Emotions formed part of the desire for and experience of the salvific mystery in Byzantium. However, they were transformed together with the whole of human nature in this mystical experience. This paper will explore one of Romanos’ paschal songs, On the Resurrection VI, which invited the faithful to experience the dialectic between the beginning of salvation history and the end of all things, weaving together the fallenness of the congregation with the promise of rebirth. While this paper will also allude to other hymns composed for Pascha, it will consider how the tears of the Romanos’ protagonist, Mary Magdalen—who was conquered by weeping but overcome by the fire of love—embodied a metamorphosis of grief into joy. In the liminal space between the absence and presence of Christ’s body, during the interlude between crucifixion and resurrection, Romanos’ song elicited a longing for the eschaton that is yet to come but already dawning.
Andrew Mellas is Senior Lecturer in Byzantine History & Liturgical Studies at St. Andrew’s. In 2018, he completed a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney on the emotion of compunction in Byzantium. Andrew has published various books, chapters and articles on the history of Byzantium, liturgics and hymnody, as well as presenting papers on these subjects at international conferences. His current projects include exploring the liturgical intersections of hagiography and hymnography, and editing The Cambridge Companion to the Byzantine Church. He is also a member of the Australian Byzantine Choir.