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Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos

An akathist (Greek, akathistos) is a hymn dedicated to a saint, holy event, or one of the persons of the Holy Trinity. The word akathist itself means "not sitting." The akathist par excellence is that written in the 6th century to the Theotokos. In its use as part of the Salutations to the Theotokos service (used in the Byzantine tradition during Great Lent), it is often known by its Greek or Arabic names, Chairetismoi and Madayeh, respectively.

The writing of akathists (occasionally spelled acathist) continues today as part of the general composition of an akolouthia, especially in the Slavic tradition, although not all are widely known nor translated beyond the original language. Isaac E. Lambertsen has done a large amount of translation work, including many different akathists. Most of the newer akathists are pastiche, that is, a generic form imitating the original 6th century akathist into which a particular saint's name is inserted.


The Trisagion Prayers are often said as a prelude to the akathist hymn. The akathist hymn itself is divided into thirteen parts, each of which has a kontakion and an oikos. The kontakion usually ends with the exclamation: "Alleluia!" Within the latter part of the oikos comes an anaphoric entreaty, such as "Come!" or "Rejoice!" The thirteenth kontakion (which does not have a corresponding ikos) is usually followed by the repetition of the first ikos and kontakion. After the thirteen kontakia and ikoi, additional prayers are added, such as a troparion and another kontakion. In some akathists, Psalms are also included.

Akathist to the Theotokos

When the word akathist is used alone, it most commonly refers to the original hymn by this name, the 6th century Akathist to the Theotokos, attributed to St. Romanos the Melodist (though this attribution is hotly debated). This hymn is often split into four parts and sung at the "Salutations to the Theotokos" service on the first four Friday evenings in Great Lent; the entire Akathist is then sung on the fifth Friday evening. Traditionally it is included in the Orthros of the fifth Saturday of Great Lent. In monasteries of Athonite tradition, the whole Akathist is usually inserted nightly at Compline.

The four sections into which the Akathist is divided correspond to the themes of the Annuncation, Nativity, Christ, and the Theotokos herself.

The hymn itself forms an alphabetical acrostic—that is, each oikos ("house," possibly from the Syriac terminology) begins with a letter of the Greek alphabet, in order—and it consists of twelve long and twelve short oikoi. Each of the long oikoi include a seven-line stanza followed by six couplets, employing rhyme, assonance, and alliteration, beginning with the word Chaire (translated as either "Hail!" or "Rejoice!") and ending with the refrain, "Hail, Bride without bridegroom!" In the short oikoi, the seven-line stanza is followed by the refrain, "Alleluia!"

The Salutations to the Theotokos service, often known by its Greek name, the Chairetismoi (from the Chaire! so often used in the hymn), consists of Compline with the Akathist hymn inserted. It is known in Arabic as the Madayeh.


For the following lists, when the word Akathist is linked, it links to the particular akathist hymn described in that line. Where more of the same akathist have been found, the links will follow on the next line, indented, referencing information such as file type and language. (English text or html files are considered the default.) The links for the remainder of the line lead to the relevant OrthodoxWiki page for more information on the subject of the akathist. For known authors, the name will be listed.

Relating to the Trinity

[1], [2], [3]
  • Akathist (PDF) to Jesus, Light to those in Darkness (by Fr. Lawrence Farley)
  • Akathist to the Holy Spirit

Relating to the Theotokos

  • Akathist to the Holy Virgin Theotokos (by St. Romanus the Melodist)
[5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], with a brief outline, PDF, with western notation
English/Arabic, French, German (PDF), Greek, Spanish
  • Akathist (PDF) to the Theotokos, Daughter of Zion (by Fr. Lawrence Farley)
  • Akathist to the Theotokos, the Deliverer
  • Akathist to the Theotokos, the Door-keeper
  • Akathist to the Theotokos, the Enricher of the Harvest
  • Akathist to the Theotokos, Inexhaustible Cup
  • Akathist to the Theotokos, Queen of All (Pantanassa, or "Healer of Cancer")
  • Akathist to the Theotokos at her Icon "Stay of Our Sorrows" (or "Assuage My Sorrow")
  • Akathist to the Theotokos at the Wonder-working Icon of Crasna
  • Akathist to the Theotokos at her Weeping Icon of Boian (Bojan)
  • Akathist of the Theotokos of the Portal of Iviron
  • Akathist to the Theotokos at the Icon of Seven Arrows (Icon of the Prophecy of Simeon)
  • Akathist to the Theotokos at her Icon of Felixstowe
  • Akathist (PDF) to the Theotokos at her Wonder-working Icon of Tikhvin

Relating to the Saints

  • Akathist to the Chinese martyr saints who died in the Boxer Rebellion (by Geoffrey Korz)
[19] (PDF)
[20], [21]
[22], [23] (PDF)
[24], [25]
[26], [27]
[28], [29]

Other Akathists

[30]; The Akathist is often attributed to Priest Gregory Petrov who died in a Soviet prison camp in 1940, but also to Metropolitan Tryphon (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) +1934. The title is from the words of St. John Chrysostom as he was dying in exile. It is a song of praise from amidst the most terrible sufferings.
  • Akathist of Thanksgiving (by Metropolitan Tryphon (Turkestanov))
[31]; Finnish
  • Akathist in Praise of God's Creation (by Metropolitan Tryphon (Turkestanov))
  • Akathist to the Holy Archangel Michael
  • Akathist to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel
  • Akathist to the Guardian Angel
  • Akathist for the Repose of the Departed
  • Akathist to All Saints

External Links