St. Romanos was born of Jewish parents in the latter part of the 5th century in Emesa, Syria. He converted to Christianity as a child. When he came of age, he moved to Beirut and served in the Church of the Resurrection there as a deacon. He loved to sing, but was not known to have a particularly melodious voice.
During the reign of the Roman Emperor Anastasius (a.d. 491-518), St. Romanos went to Constantinople and served in the church as a deacon and a singer. He also spent time in the Blachernae Church where the omophor of the Virgin Mary was kept, for he loved her very much. Patriarch Euthymius loved St. Romanos because of his virtues, and encouraged him to sing with the more accomplished singers, who often ridiculed him. When he was assigned to lead the singing on the evening of the Nativity of Christ, he desperately prayed for help, and in a dream the Virgin appeared to him and gave him a scroll to eat, which he did. The next day, blessed by Christ and the Virgin, he beautifully sang the hymn, or kontakion, that has come down to us, “Today the Virgin.” St. Romanos became famous and wrote over 8,000 hymns.