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St. Joseph of the Studium

Joseph of the Studium, sometimes designated The Hymnographer, was born on the island of Sicily, in the end of the eighth century, or the beginning of the ninth. It has been disputed whether indeed the double designation belongs to one person. Into that question we have no occasion to enter here. Up to the present time we have had no evidence to prove that the Hymnographer was not of the Studium, and that the hymns of St. Joseph, which are so much in evidence in the Service Books, are not the work of one writer.

St. Joseph left Sicily in 830 A.D., and at Thessalonica embraced the monastic life. Removing later to Constantinople, he entered the monastery of the Studium. There he devoted himself to hymn writing. He was by far the most voluminous writer of hymns of the Greek Church, his verses exceeding in number those of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. There are nearly two hundred 48 canons from his pen in the Menaea, and when we consider that each canon is made up of eight odes, to say nothing of the accompanying contakia, it is easy to gauge the extent of his work in that one class of composition. Like most other voluminous writers, however, his quality is not of the best. Many of the canons are exceedingly poor, and reflect little credit on the writer. "Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright," a cento by Dr. Neale, gives a very good sample of his use of figure. "Far from Thy heavenly care," a contakion after the sixth ode of the canon for Septuagesima, perhaps owes more to the translator than at first sight appears. St. Joseph died, 883.

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