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Liturgical Emotions in Byzantine Hymns : Reimagining Romanos the Melodist’s On the Victory of the Cross

Liturgical Emotions in Byzantine Hymns : Reimagining Romanos the Melodist’s On the Victory of the Cross

Andrew Mellas

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College

Abstract: Reimagining Romanos the Melodist’s On the Victory of the Cross, this paper explores the relationship between cognition and emotion in the performance of this hymn in Byzantium. It argues that the affective mysticism of Byzantine hymnody portrayed sacred music as a liturgical act that mirrored the heavenly choir of angels and shaped the passions of the singer’s soul. Beginning with a brief overview of rhetoric, emotions and mystagogy in Byzantium, the paper then examines Romanos’ On the Victory of the Cross and how its liturgical performance transformed emotions, placing them within an eschatological context. By reimagining the historical performance of Romanos’ text—to the extent possible—this paper probes how hymnography and holy ritual embodied godly emotions, inviting the faithful to feel beyond their nature.