Pseudo-Romanos the Melodist

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The Akathist Hymn (written ca 5th/6th century) is traditionally believed to have been written during the seventh century for the feast of Annunciation of the Theotokos (25 March), originating in the year 626 A.D. This kontakion was traditionally attributed to Romanos the Melodist since kontakia of Romanos dominated the classical repertoire during the cathedral rite of the Hagia Sophia, though recent scholarship rejects this authorship.  More recent scholarship date the Akathist Hymn par excellence to before Romanos sometime in the 5th or 6th Century.  The Akathist is also known by the first three words of its preamble: Te upermacho stratego (“To you, invincible champion”) addressed to Holy Mary Theotokos, (“The all-holy birth-giver of God”).

The Akathist Hymn:

The End of the Patristic Period
He who was bodiless, having heard the bidding secretly in his soul, went with haste to Joseph’s dwelling and said to the Unwedded One.
He who in his condescension boweth the heavens down
is housed unchanged and whole within thee.
I see him take the form of a servant;
and wondering I cry to thee:
To thee, unconquered Queen, I thy city from danger freed an offer-
ing of thanks inscribe. O Forth-bringer of God! Yet for thy uncon-
querable might free me from all hurt that I may sing to thee:

An angel chieftain was sent from Heaven to greet the Forthbringer of God with Hail! Then seeing thee, O Lord, take flesh he is wonder-rapt, and standing crieth out with no lips of flesh to her:
Hail! by whom true hap had dawned.
Hail! by whom mishap has waned.
Hail! sinful Adam’s recalling.
Hail! Eve’s tears redeeming.
Hail! height untrodden by thought of men.
Hail! depth unscanned by angels’ ken.
Hail! for the kingly throne thou art.
Hail! for who beareth all that thou bearest?
Hail! O star that bore the Sun.
Hail! the womb of God enfleshed.
Hail! through whom things made are all new made.
Hail! through whom becomes a Babe their Maker.
Hail! through whom the Maker is adorned.


The holy one seeing herself in chastity said greatly daring unto Gabriel: Thy dark saying seems hard to my mind. What birth of a seedless begetting dost thou name?
Crying out: ALLELUIA.

The Virgin yearning to know the knowledge unknowable made to clamour to the servitor: from a maiden womb how may a Child be born? tell me. To her he said, fearing yet crying out:
Hail! initiated into God’s unspeakable counsel
Hail! keeper of things best kept by silence.
Hail! of Christ’s wonders the beginning.
Hail! of his mysteries the head.
Hail! heavenward Ladder by which God came down.
Hail! earthly Bridge carrying the earthborn unto heaven.
Hail! much sung marvel of the angels.
Hail! of the demons much dirged wounding.
Hail! who unspeakably hast the Light forth-brought.
Hail! who the How to none hast taught.
Hail! wisdom of the wise outsoaring.
Hail! light on faithful minds outpouring.


Then the power from on high overshadowed unto begetting the
Maid untouched; and he showed her fruitful womb as a meadow
sweet to all who sought to reap salvation, as thus he sang: ALLELUIA.

Then the Maid of the God-bearing womb hastened unto Elizabeth; whose babe, knowing straightway her greeting, rejoiced and with stirrings as if with song cried out to God’s Forth-bringer:
Hail! vine of an unwithering Shoot.
Hail! yielder of untainted Fruit.
Hail! thou whom this man-loving Husbandman has tended.
Hail! thou who unto life hast brought him
who bringeth death to life.
Hail! field with mercies harvest-rich.
Hail! board with load of pities spread.
Hail! flower-strewn meadow.
Hail! thou who the soul’s sage anchorage preparest.
Hail! grateful incense-cloud of prayer.
Hail! the whole world’s offering of peace.
Hail! God’s goodness unto men.
Hail! man’s trustfulness in God.

Looking on thee, O Unwedded One, and dreading a hidden wed-
lock, O Sinless One, the chaste Joseph was riven in mind with a
storm of doubts; but having learned that the begetting was of the Holy Ghost, said: ALLELUIA.


The shepherds heard the Angels extolling the Christ coming in the flesh; and running as to a shepherd they see him as a Lamb unspotted being fed on Mary’s breast, to whom they carolled, saying:
Hail! Mother both of Lamb and Shepherd.
Hail! fold of rational sheep.
Hail! against unseen foes defending.
Hail! the heavenly gateways opening.
Hail! for the heavens with earth rejoice.
Hail! for things earthly with things heavenly chorus.
Hail! of Apostles never-silent mouthpiece.
Hail! of the Martyrs strength undaunted.
Hail! of Faith the firm foundation.
Hail! of Grace the shining token.
Hail! by whom hell is despoiled.
Hail! by whom we are clothed with glory.

The Magi, having seen the God-heralding star, following its shining, and helped by it as by a lantern sought by its aid the mighty King, and having reached the Unreachable they rejoiced, crying out to thee:

The children of the Chaldees seeing in the Virgin’s hands him whose hands made men, and knowing him as Lord even though he had taken the form of a servant, hastened to worship with their gifts, and cried out to her who is blessed:
Hail! Mother of the unsetting Star.
Hail! Splendor of the Mystic Day.
Hill thou who hast quenched the fire of erTor.
Hall thou who enlightenest the initiates of the Triune.
Hail! who from his seat has driven the foe of man.
Hail! thou who hast shown to us Christ the merciful
lover of man.
Hail! thou who hast redeemed us from pagan rites.
Hail! thou who rescuest us from works of mire.
Hail! thou who hast quenched the cult of fire.
Hail! thou who savest us from passion’s Aame.
Hail! leader of the faithful in ways of self-control.
Hail! Joy of all Generations.

The Magi being made heralds God-inspired went back to Babylon, having done thy bidding; unto everyone they preached thee as Christ and left Herod as if he were raving, unable to sing: ALLELUIA.

Having shed in Egypt the beams of thy truth thou didst chase the
darkness of untruth; for its idols, O Saviour, unable to meet thy
strength, fell down; and as many as were freed from them cried out to God’s Forth-bringer:
Hail! thou who raisest mankind up.
Hail! thou who castest demons down.
Hail! thou who the cheat of lies hast trodden ‘neath thy feet.
Hail! thou who the fraud of idols hast reproved.
Hail! sea the mystic Pharaoh drowning.
Hail! rock refreshing such as for life are athirst.
Hail! pillar of fire in darkness guiding.
Hail! shade of the world wider than a cloud.
Hail! unfailing manna-food.
Hail! server of hallowing delights.
Hail! land of promise.
Hail! from whom flow milk and honey.


Unto Simon about to leave this deceitful world wast thou brought as a Babe; but to him wast thou known as the infinite God; wherefore marveling at thy unspeakable wisdom he cried out: ALLELUIA.

Thus did he show himself as the new Creature when he, the Creator, revealed himself to us who were made by him; and, blossoming from a seedless womb he kept its unsullied purity, so that we the wonder knowing might hymn her and cry out:
Hail! fower unfading.
Hail! crown of chastity.
Hail! flashing token of resurrection.
Hail! mirror of the life of Angels.
Hail! tree of glorious fruit to feed the faithful.
Hail! wood of grateful shade where many shelter.
Hail! womb bearing the Guide of all who stray.
Hail! forth-bringing the Redeemer of all bondsfolk.
Hail! tireless pleader with the just Judge.
Hail! help-bringer to sinners many.
Hail! cloak of those bare of hopes.
Hail! love outrunning all desire.

Seeing this Pilgrim Babe let us be pilgrims in this world by fixing our heart in Heaven. To this end did the God of Heaven appear on earth as a lowly man, because he wished to draw heavenward all those who cry to him: ALLELUIA.


Wholly present in the things below yet not wholly absent from the things above was the infinite Word; a divine condescension not a change of place was the child-bearing of this God-filled Virgin who hears these words:
Hail! thou who didst comprehend the incomprehensible.
Hail! gate of hallowed mystery.
Hail! word hidden from unbelievers.
Hail! chariot most holy of the One above the Cherubim.
Hail! dwelling-place most glorious of the One
above the Seraphim.
Hail! who hast welded into one things opposite.
Hail! who hast woven maidenhood with motherhood.
Hail! by whom was loosed our sin.
Hail! by whom was opened Paradise.
Hail! Key of Christ’s Kingdom.
Hail! hope of eternal boons.


All angel-kind marvelled at thy great work of flesh-taking; they saw the inaccessible God accessible to all as a man, dwelling with us and hearing from all: ALLELUIA.

Men the most eloquent we see become as dumb as fishes before thee. O Forth-bringer; helpless to say in what way thou, being still a maid, Wast able to bring forth. But we, marvelling at the mystery, cry out in faith:
Hail! casket of God’s wisdom.
Hail! treasury of his providence.
Hail! confounder of the wisdom of the wise.
Hail! making babble of men’s eloquence.
Hail! for the deep thinkers are made foolish.
Hail! for the makers of myth have failed.
Hail! thou who rendest the word-webs of Athens.
Hail! thou who fillest the nets of the fishers.
Hail! thou who liftest from the deeps of knowing.
Hail! thou who enlightenest many in knowledge.
Hail! barque for those who seek salvation.
Hail! harbour of this life’s seafarers.


Being minded to save the world, the Maker of all came willingly into it and, shepherd because God, to us and for us did he appear a man; and having called like unto like, as God he hears: ALLELUIA.

Unto all maidens and unto all who fly to thee thou art a wall, O maiden Forth-bringer; the Maker of heaven and earth has prepared thee unto this, dwelling in thy womb and teaching all to sing unto Thee:
Hail! pillar of purity.
Hail! gate of safety.
Hail! beginning of spiritual new-making.
Hail! leader of godly living.
Hail! thou who didst bring to a new life those who in sin
were born.
Hail! thou who healest the minds of the mentally stricken.
Hail! thou who castest down the corrupter of minds.
Haill thou who didst bring forth the Sower of Holiness.
Hail! maiden bride-chamber.
Hail! thou who joinest to their Lord the faithful.
Hail! fair nursing-mother of virgins.
Hail! bridesmaid of holy souls.


No hymn that seeks to weave into one thy many mercies is worthy of thee; were we to bring thee, O holy King, odes many as the sea sand we should do nothing worthy of what thou hast given to us who sing to thee: ALLELUIA.

We see the Blessed Virgin as a lamp of living light shining upon those in darkness; she enkindleth an unearthly light to lead all unto divine knowledge; she, the Radiance that enlighteneth the mind, is praised by our cry:
Hail! ray of the spiritual Sun.
Hail! ray-flash of never-waning light.
Hail! lightening-flash illuminating souls.
Hail! thunder clap frightening foes.
Hail! thou who sendest forth manifold splendor.
Hail! who wellest forth a many-streamed river.
Hail! who imagest Siloam’s pool.
Hail! who cleanest the stain of sin.
Hail! cleansing-vat that lavest the conscience.
Hail! loving-cup brimming with gladness.
Hail! dour of Christ’s sweetness.
Hail! life of the mystic feasting.

When he who payeth all men’s debts was minded the ancient debts to pay, self-exiled he came to them who were exiled from his grace and, tearing up the bond, he heard from all: ALLELUIA.


All we who psalm thy Son give praise to thee as to the living temple, O God’s Forth-bringer; when within thy womb dwelt the Lord who holdeth all in his hand, he hallowed, honoured thee, and taught all to cry to thee:
Hail! tabernacle of God and the Word.
Hail! holy beyond all holy ones.
Hail! ark gilded by the Holy Ghost.
Hail! unfailing treasure-house of life.
Hail! precious diadem of godly Sovereigns.
Hail! worshipful honour of a worthy priesthood.
Hail! the Church’s unassailable tower.
Hail! indestructible wall of the Kingdom.
Hail! thou whereby war trophies are set up.
Hail! whereby foes are stricken.
Hail! my body’s healing.
Hail! my soul’s saving.

O Mother whom all must hymn, O thou who hast brought forth the Word most holy beyond all the holiest, take our present offering, keep all from every hurt, and deliver from all wrath to come those Who cry to thee: ALLELUIA.

-Ode in Honour of the Holy Immaculate Most Blessed Glorious
Lady Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary, trans. Vincent
McNabb, O.P. (Ditchling, Sussex: Pepler & Sewell, 1934)

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