Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

"The Akathistos Hymn"

Twenty-four stanzas with the alphabetic acrostic A-Ω. I attempt to imitate the structure of this acrostic through an English transliteration of the consecutive letters of the Greek alphabet. I take the extraordinary liberty of using an English "H" ("aitch") for the Greek eta (which is coincidentally capitalized as "H"); I use the vocative "O" for omega (Ω). As in my other recreation of an acrostic, my sole motive here is to suggest the dexterity of the original figure.

This is the only kontakion in which there are two different stanza patterns: the short (even-numbered), with six lines and the refrain "Alle-- luia!" and the long (odd-numbered), with eighteen lines and the refrain "Hail, unwedded bride!" In the long stanzas, each of lines 6-18 begins with the salutation "Hail" (chaire). 1 These litany-like praises of the Virgin earn the work an alternate title, "The Salutations (chairestismoi) of the Mother of God." The more usual title, "The Akathistos Hymn" (akathistos = unseated, standing), is derived from the liturgical practice of chanting this work before a standing congregation. Scholars agree that koukoulion II is a later addition written to commemorate the Virgin's "miraculous" delivery of Constantinople from the siege by the Persians, Avars, and Slavs in the year 626. An ardent plea for the rescue of the city is also probably the first occasion when the people "stood" to sing to the Virgin for mercy. 2 Koukoulion III is also spurious and bracketed.


The Annunciation (March 25)

The biblical source of narrative sections of this kontakion is a conflated version of the accounts of the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation, and Flight into Egypt found in Matthew 1:18-2:15 and Luke:26-35

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Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Citations and Abbreviation xv
  • Concordance of Kontakion Numbers xvii
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Notes 36
  • Part 2 - The Sung Sermons 41
  • "The First Humans" 43
  • Notes 44
  • "The Nativity I" (1) 49
  • Notes 50
  • "The Presentation in the Temple" (4) 60
  • Note 61
  • Healing the Leper" (8) 69
  • Notes 70
  • "The Sinful Woman" (10) 77
  • "The Man Possessed by Demons" (11) 86
  • Notes 87
  • "Judas" (17) 96
  • Notes 97
  • "Mary at the Cross" (19) 106
  • Note 107
  • "The Passion of Christ" (20) 115
  • Note 116
  • "The Victory of the Cross (22)" 125
  • Notes 126
  • "The Resurrection Vi" (29) 135
  • "Abraham and Isaac" (41) 148
  • Notes 149
  • "The Temptation of Joseph" (44) 158
  • Notes 162
  • "Repentance: Jonah and Nineveh" (52) 176
  • Note 177
  • "Earthquakes and Fires" (54) 184
  • Notes 185
  • "The Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I" (57) 196
  • Notes 198
  • "The Akathistos Hymn" 207
  • Notes 208
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 227
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