THE AKATHIST HYMN is one of the most well-loved services of devotion in the Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Akathist sings the praises of the Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary (Theotokos). The hymn was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, “the city of the Virgin,” by St. Romanos the Melodist in the 6th century. The hymn is sung on Fridays of Great Lent, and constitutes a very concrete spiritual preparation for Holy Week and Easter Services. The hymn is also chanted by the faithful throughout the year.
The Greek 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, thou Bride Unwedded.” The four sections into which the Akathist is divided correspond to the themes of the Annunciation, Nativity, Christ, and the Mother of God herself.
Click play below to listen to Father Richard Armstrong and parishioners recite the Akathist Hymn.
Father Richard Armstrong is pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church in Knoxville and serves as the assistant director of Christian formation for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville under the direction Bishop Richard F. Stika.
The Catholic Church is a communion of twenty-three Churches. It is made up of Churches from the Eastern Tradition and the Western Tradition. Eastern Catholics are in communion with Rome and share the same basic faith and the same Holy Mysteries (sacraments), but express them following the same tradition as the Orthodox Churches. Each Eastern Church has its own unique heritage and theology, liturgy and discipline.
Click to download a copy of the Akathist Hymn Booklet.