Σάββατο 23 Μαρτίου 2013

Akathistos (The Akathist Hymn)

(probably by St. Romanos the Melodist)
For thee, Mother of God, champion and leader,
I, thy city that has been freed from terrors,
Record the prize of victory as a thank offering.
Since thou hast irresistible might,
Free me from dangers of all sorts
That I may call out to thee,
"Hail, bride unwed."
 Strophe 1

A chief angel was sent out from Heaven
To say to the Mother of God, "Hail." And with incorporeal voice, as he beheld Thee, Lord, assuming flesh, He was amazed and stood still, crying this to her:
"Hail, thou from whom grace will shine forth,
Hail, thou through whom the curse will disappear;
Hail, thou who art the resurrection of fallen Adam,
Hail, thou who art the deliverance of Eve's tears;
Hail, summit inaccessible for mortal man,
Hail, depth difficult to behold even for angels.
Hail, since thou art the throne of the King;
Hail, thou who dost bear the One who bears all;
Hail, star showing forth the sun,
Hail, womb of divine incarnation,
Hail, thou through whom creation is renewed;
Hail, thou through whom the Creator is worshipped.
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 2
The holy lady, seeing herself as chaste, Spoke boldly to Gabriel. "The marvel of your message seems difficult for me to accept, For you foretell a birth from a conception without seed, as you cry:

Strophe 3
The Virgin, in seeking knowledge that is unknowable, Cried out to the divine servant: "How is it possible for a son to be born from pure womb?  Tell me." He answered her, as he cried out in fear:
"Hail, initiate of the ineffable will,
Hail, faith higher than honor;
Hail, prelude to the miracles of Christ,
Hail, summation of His teachings;
Hail, celestial ladder by which God descended,
Hail, bridge conveying man from earth to Heaven;
Hail, far-famed marvel of the angels,
Hail, much-mourned defeat of the demons;
Hail, thou who wilt give birth to Light in mysterious fashion,
Hail, thou who learned nothing about the 'how';
Hail, knowledge that surpasses the wise,
Hail, thou who dost illumine the hearts of the faithful.
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 4
Then, the power of the All-Highest Kept a secret watch on the conception of the unwed Virgin, And she showed forth her fruitful womb as a field Dear to all who wish to reap salvation, And in it to sing in this way,

Strophe 5  
Mary, whose womb received God, Hastened to Elizabeth, and her child, Recognizing the embrace, rejoiced And with leaps and songs, cried out to the Mother of God:
"Hail, vine of the unwithering shoot;
Hail, possession of the immortal fruit;
  Hail, cultivator of the husbandman, friend of man;
  Hail, thou who didst plant the planter of our life;
Hail, land that blossoms with the fertility of compassion;
Hail, table that bears abundance of mercy;
Hail, since thou dost prepare the haven of souls;
Hail, since thou dost cause a meadow of delicacies to flourish;
Hail, incense of intercession, gladly received,
Hail, propitiation of the whole world,
Hail, good will of God for mortals,
Hail, freedom of approach to God for mortals,
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 6 
Since he was inwardly distressed by the ambiguous situation, The prudent Joseph was upset. As he saw thee unwed, blameless lady, He suspected illicit love; But when he learned of thy conception by the Holy spirit he said:

Strophe 7
The shepherds heard the angels singing hymns On the arrival of Christ  incarnate; And as they ran quickly to the Shepherd, They beheld Him as a lamb without blame, Nourished in the womb of Mary, and they sang out:
"Hail, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd;
Hail, fold for the flock that knows speech;
Hail, defense against unseen beasts,
Hail, opener of the gates of Paradise;
Hail, since the Heavens along with the earth glorify thee,
Hail, since terrestrial life joins with Christ in rejoicing;
Hail, unsilenced voice of the apostles,
Hail, unconquered courage of the martyrs;
Hail, firm support of faith,
Hail, shining mark of grace,
Hail, thou by whom Hades was stripped bare;
Hail, thou by whom we were clothed in glory.
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 8
The Magi, watching the star, moving toward God, Followed its light; And as they made use of it as lantern, by its means They found the radiant King. As they arrived before the Inaccessible One, They cried out to His mother,

Strophe 9
The Chaldeans beheld in the hands of the Virgin The One who created man with His hands; And, since they considered Him Lord, Even if He did assume the form of a slave, They hastened to worship Him with gifts, And they cried out to the blessed Virgin;
"Hail, Mother of the star which does not set,
Hail, light of mysterious day,
Hail, thou who hast ended the fire of trickery;
Hail, thou who dost guard the Initiates of the Trinity;
Hail, thou who didst banish from his dominion the savage tyrant;
Hail, thou who has shown forth the Lord, Lover of man;
Hail, thou who dost redeem us from the service of the enemy;
Hail, thou who dost illumine faith inspired of God.
Hail, thou who hast checked the worship of fire,
Hail, thou who hast banished the heat of the passions,
Hail, guide for the righteousness of the faithful;
Hail, blessed among all people.
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 10
The Magi, who became God-inspired heralds, Turned back to Babylon. Having fulfilled Thy prophecy,  They heralded Thee as Christ to all men. They  abandoned Herod as a fool who did not know how to sing

Strophe 11
Causing the light of truth to shine forth in Egypt, Thou hast dispersed the shadow of error; For its idols fell, Savior, unable to endure Thy power. Those who were protected from them cried to the Mother of God:
"Hail, restoration of men,
Hail, downfall of demons,
Hail, thou who hast overthrown the power of error,
Hail, thou who hast refuted the deceit of idols;
Hail, sea submerging the Pharaoh of the mind;
Hail, rock that offers drink to those who thirst for life.
Hail, fiery pillar pointing the way to those in darkness                  *Ex 13.21; 23.9
Hail, shelter of the world, wider than a cloud;
Hail, food, the successor of manna,*       *Ex. 16.12-16
Hail, servant of holy nourishment,
Hail, promised land,
Hail, thou from whom flows milk and honey.*         *Josh. 5.6
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 12
When Simeon was on the point of being removed From the present time to eternity, Thou wast presented as a babe to him, But Thou wast known to him as perfect God. Hence, he was amazed at Thy unchanging essence, and he cried out:

Strophe 13
The Creator revealed a new creation and showed it
To us, His creatures;
He caused the womb to bear without seed,
And he preserved it chaste, as it was before,
So that, seeing the miracle, we shall hymn her and cry:
"Hail, flower of immortality,
Hail, crown of continence;
Hail, thou who dost shine out as the figure of the resurrection;
Hail, thou who has revealed the life of the angels;
Hail, tree of famous fruit from which the faithful feed;
Hail, branch of the shady leaves under which many are sheltered;
Hail, thou who dost bring release for prisoners,
Hail, thou who wilt become the guide for wanderers;
Hail, conciliator of the Judge of all,
Hail, forgiveness of many sinners,
Hail, robe of freedom for the naked,
Hail, love that conquers all suffering,
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 14
As we behold this strange birth, let us estrange ourselves from the world.
Let us turn our hearts toward Heaven,
For the Exalted One appeared on earth as a humble man
Who wishes to draw to heights those who faithfully cry:

Strophe 15
The uncircumscribed Word was complete for men below,
And He was never completely absent from those on high,
For the divine condescension was not a change in place,
Even though there was birth from the God-possessed Virgin,
Who heard these things:
"Hail, container of God who is not to be confined in space,
Hail, door of holy mystery,
Hail, report that brings doubt to the faithless,
Hail, boast that brings freedom from doubt to the faithful;
Hail, all-holy chariot of Him who is above the Cherubim,
Hail, best of all abodes for Him who is over the Seraphim;
Hail, thou who dost bring opposites together,
Hail, thou who dost unite virginity and childbearing;
Hail, thou through whom Paradise was opened
Hail, thou through whom sin was redeemed,
Hail, key of the Kingdom of Christ,
Hail, hope of eternal happiness,
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 16
The whole order of angels was struck with amazement
At the great act of incarnation
As they beheld the unapproachable God, inaccessible to all,
Living among us and hearing from all:

Strophe 17
Let us observe the wordy orators, now silent as fish
About thee, Mother of  God; for they are in doubt about this:
How, indeed, dost thou remain a virgin and still have the power
to give birth?
But we, as we marvel at the miracle, cry out with faith:
"Hail, receptacle of God's wisdom,
Hail, proof of His foreknowledge;
Hail, thou who dost show the philosophers as without wisdom,
Hail, thou who dost refute the arguments of logicians;
Hail, since powerful disputers were made to look foolish
Hail, since the weavers of skilled words have lost their strength;
Hail, thou who didst tear apart the webs of deceit of the Athenians,
Hail, thou who didst fill up the nets of the fishermen;
Hail, thou who dost lift many from the depths of ignorance,
Hail, thou who dost enrich many with wisdom,
Hail, ship for those who wish to be saved,
Hail, harbor for the sailors of life,
Hail, thou through whom the Savior is worshipped,
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 18  
Wishing to save the world, the Commander of the universe
Came, offering Himself for this purpose;
And, as Shepherd and God,
He appeared for our sakes, over us, His sheep.
He was called by the same name and a man like us,
Because He wished to hear:

Strophe 19 
O Virgin, Mother of God, thou art the defence of virgins
And of all those who turn to thee in prayer;
For the Creator of Heaven and earth created thee,
And dwelt in thy womb, and taught all to address thee:
"Hail, pillar of virginity,
Hail, gate of salvation,
Hail, author of the remaking of Adam,
Hail, giver of divine goodness,
Hail, thou who hast regenerated those conceived in sin;
Hail, thou who has given reason to those without understanding;
Hail, thou who didst destroy the corrupter of the mind;
Hail, thou who dost produce the Sower of the seed of purity,
Hail, bridal chamber of chaste marriage,
Hail, thou who dost unite the faithful to the Lord,
Hail, beautiful virgin, nurse of the Lord,
Hail, revered bridal escort of saints,
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 20
Every hymn and song is eager to strain to the utmost,
To be equal to the multitude of Thy mercies.
O holy King, even if we raise our voices in as many odes as there are
grains of sand,
We accomplish nothing worthy of what Thou hast given
To those who cry in faith:

Strophe 21
Let us behold the holy Virgin who appeared
As light-giving lamp to those in darkness;
For she kindled the incorporeal fire that leads everywhere
   to divine knowledge,
Since it enlightens the mind with its beams,
And is honored with this cry:
"Hail, ray of the sun of the spirit,
Hail, lamp of light that does not set;
Hail, thou who like thunder strikes down the foe,
Hail, lightning flash that illumines the spirit,
Hail, thou who dost kindle brilliant illumination,
Hail, thou who dost cause to gush forth a richly dowered watering;
Hail, thou who dost prefigure the baptismal font,
Hail, thou who dost take away the filth of sin;
Hail, cleanser who washest out the conscience,
Hail, bowl that serves for mixing delights,
Hail, odor of sweet-smelling Christ,
Hail, life of mystic good cheer,
(Hail, thou through whom the Creator is worshipped). 
  (Perhaps belongs to Strophe 17) 
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 22
Wishing to cancel old debts,
The Redeemer of all men
Voluntarily came to live with those foreign to His grace,
And He tore up the ancient decree, and hears this song from all:

Strophe 23 
As we sing in honor of thy giving birth, we all glorify thee,
Mother of God, a living temple; for the Lord
Who holds the universe in His hand dwelt in thy womb.
He has glorified and consecrated thee, and taught us all to cry:
"Hail, tabernacle of God and the world,
Hail, holier than the saints;
Hail, treasure chest filled with gold for the spirit,
Hail, inexhaustible treasure of life;
Hail, precious diadem of reverent kings,
Hail, august boast of devout priests,
Hail, unshaken tower of the church,
Hail, unconquered wall of the Kingdom;
Hail, thou to whom trophies are raised,
Hail, thou through whom enemies fall,
Hail, leadership for my spirit,
Hail, nurture of my life.
Hail, bride unwed."

Strophe 24
O Mother, praised by all, who gave birth to the Word,
Holiest of all the saints,
As thou dost accept the present offering,
Redeem all people from every disaster,
And redeem from future punishment those who cry:

 With thanks to Fr Demetrios Carellas  for this translation
From The Kontakia of Romanos, Byzantine Melodist   II.  On Christian Life
Translated and Annotated by Marjorie Carpenter   ISBN 0-8262-0123-7

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