Twenty-four stanzas with the acrostic TOY TAΠEINOY PΩMANOY O YMNOΣ (the "hymn of/by the humble Romanos"). Paul Maas judged stanza 19 to be a later addition; 1 I have bracketed it in my translation.
The biblical sources of this kontakion are the Nativity narratives in Matthew 2 and Luke 2:1-20, but there is no direct acknowledgment of these familiar texts. Far more important for Romanos than the facts of Jesus' birth or of the visit of the Magi are the motives behind them. Thus, Mary is portrayed speaking to her newborn son and seeking answers to the inexplicable circumstances of his entry into the world of "creatures of clay" (3.2). The Melodist indicates that "such words" (toiauta) as these are his own poetic invention by having the Virgin utter them "in secret" (4.1). Again, when the infant Jesus responds to Mary's plea to welcome the Magi, he does so by "invisibly clasp[ing] his mother's heart" (8.1-2) and urging her to invite the visitors into the cave. These phrases are typical of the various techniques Romanos uses to emphasize his own creative reactions to and variations on scriptural texts.
Another similar device is his use of reported speech: Mary's explanation of Joseph's vision (12), the Magi's account of Herod's inquiries and the incredulity of the Jews (17-19). The final two and a half stanzas of this kontakion are the Virgin's appeal to her Son on behalf of all humans, who have been exiled from Paradise (22.5-24). This blending of the customary closing prayer directly into the plot developments of the poem is another sign of Romanos'mastery of the nuances of scene, transition, and closure.
The baroque wordplay on "door" in stanza 9 has a scriptural source.