Greek Orthodox Faithful last week were celebrating the fifth week of Lent, and the liturgical services are reaching their peak in terms of their length and their injunctions to the faithful to repent and ensure the salvation of their soul. On Friday was the liturgy of the Akathist Hymn to the Virgin Mary. The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem or chant, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother (Theotókos) and Ever-Virgin (Aeiparthénos) Mary. It is chanted in all Orthodox Churches throughout the world during the Great Lent, and constitutes a very concrete spiritual preparation for the Holy Week and Easter Services.
Devotional Hymns to the Theotokos are as ancient as the first Christian Church. The Byzantine Empire from its very inception at Constantinople during the fourth century, closely allied itself to the Virgin Mary and always sought Her protection or intercessions. This we see from the Prayer Services to the Theotokos between the fifth and eighth centuries, and the reference to Constantinople as the 'Queen City'.
This post is part of Robert's and Louis' Psalm Sunday.
This part of the chant declaims:
Την ωραιότητα της παρθενίας Σου,
και το υπέρλαμπρο το της αγνείας Σου,
ο Γαβριήλ καταπλαγείς εβόα Σοι,
Θεοτόκε: "Ποιόν Σοι εγκώμιον προσαγάγω επάξιον;
Τι δε ονομάσω Σε; Απορώ και εξίσταμαι διό,
ως προσετάγην, βοώ Σοι:
Χαίρε, η Κεχαριτωμένη".
At the magnificence of Your virginity,
And the exceeding splendour of Your purity,
Gabriel was amazed and cried out to You:
What title of honour shall I bestow on You?
How shall I address You? I am bewildered and struck with awe.
But I shall cry out to You as I was commanded:
Hail, O highly favoured One!