Saint Joseph the Hymnographer
Feast Day is June 14
The most prolific of the Greek hymn writers. A native of Sicily, he was forced to leave his island in 830 in the wake of an invasion by the Arabs,
journeying to Thessalonica and then to Constantinople. He abandoned the Byzantine capital in 841 to escape the severe Iconoclast persecution, but on his way to
Rome he was captured by pirates and held for several years in Crete as a slave. Finally escaping, he returned to Constantinople and founded a monastery.
For his ardent defense of the icons, he was sent into exile in the Chersonese. Joseph is credited with the composition of about one thousand canons.
He should not be confused with Joseph of Thessalonica, brother of Theodore of Studium.
Joseph composed numerous canons and hymns for many saints, and is credited with approximately 1,000 works. The melismatic canons of the Menaion are primarily his work; they bear his name in the acrostic of the Ninth Ode. He also composed most of the hymns in the liturgical book known as the Paracletike, which complements the Octoechos.
It is often difficult to distinguish his work from that of Joseph of Thessalonica, sometimes called Joseph of the Studium. The dates for both are approximately the same. Joseph of the Studium was the bishop of Thessalonika and the brother of Theodore the Studite. Both are cited as great liturgical poets.
His hymns are still sung, not only by Eastern Christians, but by Western Christians as well. A number of his hymns have been adapted into popular
The following is a selection of Hymns by Joseph:
•Let Us Now Our Voices Raise
•Stars of the Morning
•And Wilt Thou Pardon, Lord
•O Happy Band of Pilgrims (by John M. Neale, based on words by Joseph the Hymnographer)
from Saint of the Day Lives, Lessons and Feast, By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
Two Hearts – One Love