St. John of Damascus

St. John of Damascus
Short Name: St. John of Damascus
Full Name: John of Damascus, Saint
Birth Year (est.): 675
Death Year (est.): 787

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wrote about science, philosophy, and theology.

Bert Polman
John of Damascus, St. The last but one of the Fathers of the Greek Church, and the greatest of her poets (Neale). He was of a good family in Damascus, and educated by the elder Cosmas in company with his foster-brother Cosmas the Melodist (q. v.). He held some office under the Caliph. He afterwards retired to the laura of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, along with his foster-brother. There he composed his theological works and his hymns. He was ordained priest of the church of Jerusalem late in life. He lived to extreme old age, dying on the 4th December, the day on which he is commemorated in the Greek calendar, either in his 84th or 100th year (circa 780). He was called, for some unknown reason, Mansur, by his enemies. His fame as a theologian rests on his work, the first part of which consists of philosophical summaries, the second dealing with heresies, and the third giving an account of the orthodox faith. His three orations in favour of the Icons, from which he obtained the name of Chrysorrhous and The Doctor of Christian Art, are very celebrated. The arrangement of the Octoechusin accordance with the Eight Tones was his work, and it originally contained no other Canons than his. His Canons on the great Festivals are his highest achievements. In addition to his influence on the form and music, Cardinal Pitra attributes to him the doctrinal character of the later Greek hymnody. He calls him the Thomas Aquinas of the East. The great subject round which his hymns are grouped is The Incarnation, developed in the whole earthly career of the Saviour. In the legendary life of the saint the Blessed Virgin Mary is introduced as predicting this work: the hymns of John of Damascus should eclipse the Song of Moses, rival the cherubim, and range all the churches, as maidens beating their tambours, round their mother Jerusalem (Pitra, Hymn. Grecque, p. 33). The legend illustrates not only the dogmatic cast of the hymns, but the introduction of the Theotokion and Staurotheotokion, which becomes the prevalent close of the Odes from the days of St. John of Damascus: the Virgin Mother presides over all. The Canons found under the name of John Arklas (one of which is the Iambic Canon at Pentecost) are usually attributed to St. John of Damascus, and also those under the name of John the Monk. Some doubt, however, attaches to the latter, because they are founded on older rhythmical models which is not the case with those bearing the name of the Damascene, and they are not mentioned in the ancient Greek commentaries on his hymns. One of these is the Iambic Canon for Christmas.

His numerous works, both in prose and verse, were published by Le Quien, 1712; and a reprint of the same with additions by Migne, Paris, 1864. Most of his poetical writings are contained in the latter, vol. iii. pp. 817-856, containing those under the title Carmina; and vol. iii. pp. 1364-1408, the Hymni. His Canon of SS. Peter & Paul is in Hymnographie Grecque, by Cardinal Pitra, 1867. They are also found scattered throughout the Service Books of the Greek Church, and include Iambic Canons on the Birth of Christ, the Epiphany, and on Pentecost; Canons on Easter, Ascension, the Transfiguration, the Annunciation, and SS. Peter & Paul: and numerous Idiomela. In addition, Cardinal Mai found a manuscript in the Vatican and published the same in his Spicilegium Romanum, which contained six additional Canons, viz.: In St. Basilium; In St. Chrysostomum; In St. Nicolaum; In St. Petrum; In St. Georgium, and In St. Blasium. But M. Christ has urged grave objections to the ascription of these to St. John of Damascus (Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christorium, p. xlvii.). Daniel's extracts in his Thesaurus Hymnologicus, vol. iii. pp. 80, 97, extend to six pieces. Dr. Neale's translations of portions of these works are well known.

[Rev. H. Leigh Bennett, M.A.]

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

Wikipedia Biography

John of Damascus (Arabic: يوحنا الدمشقي, romanized: Yūḥanna ad-Dimashqī; Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Δαμασκηνός, romanized: Ioánnēs ho Damaskēnós, IPA: [ioˈanis o ðamasciˈnos]; Latin: Ioannes Damascenus) or John Damascene was a Christian monk, priest, hymnographer, and apologist. Born and raised in Damascus c. 675 or 676; the precise date and place of his death is not known, though tradition places it at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem on 4 December 749.

Texts by St. John of Damascus (54)sort descendingAsAuthority LanguagesInstances
Aldaw ti PanaguñgarSt. John of Damascus (Author)Tagalog2
Bend to our hymns, RedeemerJohn of Damascus, 685-649 (Author)English2
Bethlehem rejoices, Hark the voices clearJohn of Damascus, 675-749 (Author)English4
Christ, We Turn Our Eyes to TheeJohn Damascene (Author)English2
Come and let us drink of that new riverJohn of Damascus, c.675-746 (Author)English4
Come, God’s people, sing for joySt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Come, let us drink of that new riverJohn of Damascus (Author)English6
Come, let us drink the water newSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Come sing with holy gladnessJohn of Damascus (Author)English1
Come, ye faithful, raise the strainJohn of Damascus (Author)English308
¡El día de la Pascua, Christianos, proclamad!St. John of Damascus (Author)Spanish2
En el glorioso díaSt. John of Damascus (Author)Spanish3
Ere the morn in beauty wakeSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
From my lips in their defilementJohn of Damascus (Author)English3
God has brought forth IsraelJohn of Damascus (Author)English2
Habakkuk in ancient songJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Hail the Resurrection day! Let the people shout for gladnessSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
He is risen! He is risen! Christ the Lord is risenJohn of Damascus (Author)English2
He who in the fiery furnaceSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
PrayersSt. John of Damascus (Author)English1
If the dark and awful tombJohn of Damascus (Author)4
Into the dim earth's lowest parts descendingJohn of Damascus (Author)English5
Into the fiery furnace flungSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Jesu, give thy servantsJohn of Damascus (Author)2
La tago releviĝa! Ho mond' kun laŭta kri'Johano el Damasko (Author of underlying hymn, ca.)Esperanto2
Let heaven rejoice, and earth be gladJohn of Damascus (Author)1
Let Us Rise in Early MorningJohn of Damascus (Author)English8
Now let the heavens be joyfulJohn of Damascus, c. 696-c. 754 (Author)English4
On the Rock of Thy CommandmentsSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Our hymns receive, RedeemerSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
Prophet of the Lord, beside usSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Reconciliation's Plan DevisingSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Shine forth, O new JerusalemSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Shine, shine, O new JerusalemJohn of Damascus (Author)2
Stand on Thy Watch-tower, Habakkuk the SeerJohn of Damascus (Author)English4
Take the last kiss, the last foreverJohn Damascene (Author)English3
The day of ResurrectionJohn of Damascus (Author)English400
The tuneful sound of musicJohn of Damascus (Author)English4
The wonder working MasterSt. John of Damascus (Author)4
They who with Mary cameJohn of Damascus (Author)3
This is the chosen day of GodSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Those eternal bowers man hath never trodSt. John of Damascus (Author)English35
Thou hallowed chosen morn of praiseJohn of Damascus (Author)English10
Thou New Jerusalem, Arise and ShineJohn of Damascus (Author)English4
To depths of earth Thou didst descendSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Today in Bethlehem hear IJohn of Damascus (Author)English5
Venid fieles, y cantadSt. John of Damascus (Author)Spanish2
Vinde vós, fiéis, cantarJoão Damasceno (Author)Portuguese2
Vuestro himno hoy cantadJuan de Damasco (Author)Spanish3
What sweet of life endurethSt John of Damascus, c. 750 (Author)English3
When, O King ImmortalSt. John of Damascus (Author)English2
Who From the Fiery Furnace Saved the ThreeJohn of Damascus (Author)English5
With pain earth's joys are mingledSt. John of Damascus (Author)2
忠心聖徒當高聲,歡然唱出凱歌 (Zhōngxīn shèngtú dāng gāo shēng, huān rán chàng chū kǎigē)John of Damascus (Author)Chinese2

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