Today, on Friday of the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, the Church commemorates Saint Nicetas the Confessor, abbot of Monastery of Saint Sergios of Medikion, Venerable Joseph the Hymnographer, the Martyrs Bithynios, Glaucus, Dios and Elpidophoros, and Neo Martyr Paul the Russian and Freedman.
Venerable Joseph was born in Sicily of devout parents. After his father’s death, he retired to Thessaloniki where he was tonsured a monk and then ordained a Presbyter. He was distinguished for his calligraphy and composition of famous hymns.
He later went to Constantinople and because of his reaction to the decrees of the iconoclasts, he was expelled to Rome. However, he returned to Constantinople and died in a very old age in 842 AD.
Venerable Joseph’s great hymnographic work consists of Canons, which abound in manuscripts and printed books. His contribution to the hymnographic completion of “Octoechos” is crucial, as he covered most of the week, except for the Sunday of which the Canons were written by Cosmas the Melodist (the Hymnographer) and Saint John of Damascus.
Particularly, of course, is the Canon of the Akathis Hymn in which, Joseph the Hymnographer, follows heirmos of St. John of Damascus and praises the Theotokos with an endless series of adjectives and images, such as “non-flammable bush”, “rose amaranth”, “bright cloud”, “fragrant apple”, “dove”.
It should also be noted that this morning in the Church the Presanctified Divine Liturgy is being celebrated, while tonight, together with the Small Compline with Salutations, the whole Akathist Hymn is chanted in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Source: Church of Cyprus