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 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