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13. The Akathist Hymn


Among the thousands of hymns attributed to St. Romanos, the Melodist of Constantinople, the AKATHIST was without doubt the most successful. Composed for liturgical use, c. 530, it must have entered at once into the life of monasteries and convents; at least of some of them.

On August 7, 626, after the great liberation of Constantinople, Patriarch Sergius chose it as a Hymn of Thanksgiving to the Mother of God, the Theotokos, adding the prelude in which is an allusion to Mary's part in the remarkable victory. This fact indicates that Romanos' Hymn was already considered the most beautiful of all hymns existing in the Byzantine tradition in honor of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God. It was moreover precisely on this occasion that Romanos' Hymn, composed for the feast of the Annunciation, became the AKATHIST, it was sung "standing" by the clergy and the faithful.


After a second miraculous liberation of Constantinople in 717-718, Romanos' Hymn, already the AKATHIST, was again chosen by the Patriarch St. Germanos of Constantinople, the founder of the Feast of the AKATHIST, on the Saturday of the 5th week in Lent.


In the eighth century a beautiful "Canon" composed of nine odes was added to Romanus's Hymn.


The word "akathistos" literally means "not sitting," i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while it is being prayed. The hymn is comprised of 24 stanzas, alternating long and short. Each short stanza (kontakion) ends with the singing of "Alleluia." Each longer stanza (ikos) ends with the refrain: "Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded."





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Page created: 19-3-2013.

Last update: 19-3-2013.