SAINT ROMANOS, THE MELODIST (SWEET-SINGER) OF CONSTANTINOPLE 7021 Saint Romanus the Melodist was born in the 5th century in the Syrian city of Emesa of Jewish parents. After moving to Constantinople, he became a church sacristan in the church of Hagia Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone praying in a field. St Romanus 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 Romanus, which devastated him. On the day of the Nativity, the Mother of God appeared to the youth in a vision while he was praying before her Kyriotissa icon. She gave him a scroll and commanded him to eat it. Thus he was given the gift of understanding, composition, and hymnography. That evening at the all-night Vigil St Romanus sang, in a wondrous voice, his first Kontakion: “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One…” For his zealous service St Romanus was ordained as a deacon and became a teacher of song. Until his death, which occurred about the year 556, the hierodeacon Romanus the Melodist composed nearly a thousand hymns, many of which are still used by Christians to glorify the Lord. About eighty survive.