?–circa 760
Cosmas of Jerusalem

Introduction

Died: Circa 760.

portrait

Biography

S. Cos­mas of Je­ru­sa­lem holds the se­cond place amidst Greek Ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal poets.

Left an or­phan at an ear­ly age, he was adopt­ed by the fa­ther of S. John Da­mas­cene; and the two fos­ter-bro­thers were bound to­ge­ther by a friend­ship which last­ed through life.

They ex­cit­ed each oth­er to Hym­no­lo­gy, and as­sist­ed, cor­rect­ed, and po­lished each oth­er’s com­po­si­tions.

Cos­mas, like his friend, be­came a monk of S. Sa­bas: and against his will was con­se­crat­ed Bi­shop of Mai­u­ma, near Ga­za, by John, Pa­tri­arch of 128 Je­ru­sa­lem; the same who or­dained S. John Da­ma­scene Priest.

Af­ter ad­min­is­ter­ing his di­o­cese with great ho­li­ness, he de­part­ed this life in a good old age, about 760, and is com­mem­o­rat­ed by the East­ern Church on the 14th of Oc­to­ber.

Where perfect sweetness dwells
Is Cosmas gone;
But his sweet lays
To cheer the Church live on.

Says the sti­chos pre­fixed to his life.

His com­po­si­tions are tol­er­a­bly nu­mer­ous, and he seems to have ta­ken a plea­sure in com­pet­ing with S. John Da­mas­cene, as in the Na­ti­vi­ty, the Epi­pha­ny, the Trans­fi­gu­ra­tion, where the Ca­nons of both are giv­en.

To Cos­mas, a con­sid­er­a­ble part of the Oc­to­e­chus is ow­ing.

The best of his com­po­si­tions, be­sides those al­rea­dy men­tioned, seem to be his Ca­nons on S. Gre­go­ry Na­zi­an­zen, and the Pu­ri­fi­ca­tion.

He is the most learned of the Greek Church po­ets: and his fond­ness for types, bold­ness in their ap­pli­ca­tion, and love of ag­gre­gat­ing them, make him the Or­i­ent­al Ad­am of S. Vic­tor.

It is ow­ing part­ly to a com­pressed ful­ness of mean­ing, ve­ry un­com­mon in the Greek po­ets of the Church, part­ly to the un­u­su­al harsh­ness and con­trac­tion of his phras­es, that he is the hard­est of ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal bards to com­pre­hend.

John M. Neale, Hymns of the East­ern Church (Lon­don: J. T. Hayes, 1862)

Sources

Lyrics

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