The popular [[Patron saint|patron]] of church singers, St. Roman, was born in Emesa in the latter part of the fifth century. Whether or not his Jewish parents converted to Christianity is uncertain; Roman himself was [[baptism|baptized]] as a young boy and developed a great love for the house of God. When he came of age he served as a verger, lighting the lamps and preparing the censer. After moving to Beirut, he was ordained to the [[diaconate]] and assigned to the Church of the Resurrection. He had a rather mediocre voice, but his pure and simple heart was filled with love for God, and to assist at the church services gave him the greatest joy.
During the reign of Emperor Anastasius (491-518), the young deacon moved to Constantinople. He led an [[ascetic]] life of [[prayer]] and [[fasting]], but in his [[humility]] he thought of himself as being rather worldly. He had a special love for the [[Mother of God]], and would go at night to pray in the Blachernae Church, which housed the precious omophorion of the Holy Virgin. The saintly [[Patriarch]] Euthemius loved Roman for his many [[virtues]], and paid him the same wage as those singers and readers who were more educated and more talented. The latter resented this and derided Roman for his evident lack of musical and theological training. Roman himself was painfully aware of these defects; he longed for a melodious voice worthy of leading the faithful in praising God.
It was the day before the [[Nativity|Feast of Our Lord's Nativity]], and Saint Roman was assigned to lead the singing that evening at the [[All-Night Vigil]]. He was responsible not only for the singing but also for the text of the hymns. After everyone had left, he remained in the Blachernae Church and tearfully entreated the Mother of God to help him. Exhausted, he fell asleep with his sorrow. In answer to his prayer, the Mother of God appeared to him in a dream. She handed him a scroll and said to him gently, "Here, eat this." Roman did so and awoke, overcome with joy and the lingering presence of the heavenly visitor.