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AKATHISTOS  (Gr. not permitted to sit) 1) A service consisting of many hymns of praise to the Savior, the All-Holy Theotokos, or some Saint, which may be sung in church or at home.

The word Akathist comes from the Greek word Akathistos meaning “not sitting” and denotes a hymn of praise honoring Christ, the Mother of God or a saint which the congregation sings standing. The poetic hymn tells a story associated with the person or event which the Akathist is paying homage to.

It is composed of a series of stanzas. The shorter stanzas, called the Kontakion usually ends with the proclamation of “Alleluia!” The longer stanzas, refered to as the Ikos incorporates a series of invocations normally beginning with the word “Rejoice!” or “Hail!”

Typically, an Akathist is constructed with thirteen stanzas, each containing a Kontakion and an Ikos. In some Akathist services, psalms are also included. It is concluded by repeating the first Ikos and Kontakion and a closing prayer is said.

2) An Akathistos Hymn is a hymn of praise comprised of twenty-four stanzas and sung at the Salutation Services, dedicated to Virgin Mary Theotokos. It is divided into four parts, one part sung on each Friday of the Great Lent. On the fifth Friday, the entire set is sung in commemoration of a miracle by the Virgin in Constantinople (626 A.D.). The hymn is also known as “Salutations” (Gr. Heretismoi).