Friday, April 15, 2016

Hail, O Bride Unwedded

On the fifth Friday of Great Lent the Greek Orthodox Church, and some other Orthodox Churches, celebrate the service known as the Akathist to the Theotokos. The service, built upon the service of Compline (the service I wrote about yesterday), includes a complete acrostic canon in honor of the Theotokos. According to Church Tradition, the hymn was originally written as a prayer to honor the protection of the Theotokos after the City of Constantinople was spared from being destroyed by invaders after the city processed in prayer around the city walls with the Holy Icon of the Theotokos.

An acrostic poem is a poem (prayer, etc) in which the first letter of each verse combines to spell a particular word. In the case of the Akathist to the Theotokos, each verse begins with the next letter in the Greek alphabet. Thus, there are 24 verses in the entire canon. The canon is divided into four stanzas, each sung separately the first four Fridays of Great Lent. On the fifth, the entire canon is sung. Each alternating verse ends with the praise, “Rejoice, O unwedded Bride” and “Alleluia”. Between each stanza is sung the hymn, “O Champion General” the Kontakion which commemorates the victory of Constantinople.

“O Champion General, I your City now inscribe to you Triumphant anthems as the tokens of my gratitude, Being rescued from the terrors, O Theotokos. Inasmuch as you have power unassailable, From all kinds of perils free me, so that unto you I may cry aloud: Rejoice, O unwedded Bride.”

While we might now have stone walls that protect our souls from evil invaders, we can still be protected by the prayers of the Theotokos. As you stand (Akathist means “not seated”) tonight during Church, remember to ask the All Holy Theotokos to protect your soul so you can honor her and her Son, our God with prayer and fasting the rest of the Great Lent.

1 comment:

Juliana Ingram said...

Glory to God for all things. This is great information in preparation for tonight, as well as great prayer for now, tonight, and always.