St. Andrew of Crete was born 660 A.D., in the city of Damascus. For the reason that he embraced the monastic life at Jerusalem, he is sometimes called St. Andrew of Jerusalem. In his early life he revealed an unchristian lack of decision for truth which has not tended to sweeten his memory. He was raised to the Archiepiscopate of Crete by the usurper Philippicus, called Bardanes, who had been raised to the throne by his army -- although he was only its general -- after the murder of Justinian II. As Archiepiscopate, he agreed to act as a deputy at the pseudo synod of Constantinople, which met in 712 under the auspices of Philippicus, and there condemned the decisions of the former Council, of which he had been a member. The Monothelite heresy, which taught that our Lord had only one will as He had but one nature, was there restored. Andrew, however, abandoned his error in later life. He died in the island of Hierissus, in the Aegean Sea, about 730 A.D.
To what extent his hymns appear in the Service Books it is difficult to discover. His authorship of certain of the earlier canons is undisputed. He wrote also many Idiomela. His Great Canon, or, as the Greeks delight to term it, |The King of Canons,| is in use at Mid Lent. It is an ambitious composition of about three hundred stanzas, in which numerous scriptural examples are used to inspire a spirit of penitence. Some of the stanzas are attractive. Dr. Neale, in his Hymns of the Eastern Church, gives a few from the beginning of the canon. The stichera for Thursday of Holy Week, beginning, |O the Mystery passing wonder,| are included in The New Office Hymn Book.