Friday, March 30, 2012

The Saturday of the Akathist Hymn

In the modern Greek tradition, the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, thought to the composition of St. Romanos the Melodist is sung in its entirety on the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent (or, in parish practice, at Compline on Friday night).

As we have just come out of the Feast of the Annunciation (at least those of us on the Revised Julian Calendar), this Saturday gives closure to the greatest gift God has given: His Son, born of the Virgin for us and for our salvation, humbled to become that which was lower to elevate us to that which is higher. It is a glorious hymn and it is little wonder that this hymn is often sung in monasteries daily before the noon meal.

A prince of the angels was sent from heaven, to say to the Theotokos, "Hail!" And seeing Thee, O Lord, take bodily form at the sound of his bodiless voice, filled with amazement he stood and cried aloud to her:

Hail, for through thee joy shall shine forth:
Hail, for through thee the curse shall cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam:
Hail, deliverance from the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for the thoughts of men:
Hail, depth hard to scan even for the eyes of angels.
Hail, for thou art the throne of the King:
Hail, for thou holdest Him who upholds all.
Hail, star causing the Sun to shine:
Hail, womb of the divine Incarnation.
Hail, for through thee the creation is made new:
Hail, for through thee the Creator becomes a newborn child.
Hail, Bride without bridegroom!--First Oikos

"When God so wishes," said the bodiless angel, "the order of nature is overcome and things beyond man's power come to pass. Believe that my words are true, all-holy Lady, utterly without spot." And she cried aloud, "Let it now be unto me according to thy word and I shall bear Him that is without flesh, who shall borrow flesh from me, that through this union of natures He may lead man up unto his ancient glory, for He alone has power to do so."--Third Sticheron at Psalm 140 of Vespers for the Saturday of the Akathist Hymn

The marvels of the Incarnation are not put forth so profoundly anywhere else. What a perfect hymn as we ever draw closer to our Lord's Passion and Resurrection which was to make man as God.

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