“Rejoice, O Bride and maiden ever pure!”
On the eve of the Feast of the Presentation, several students and the College’s Dominican chaplain gathered to recite one of the Church’s most ancient prayers, the Akathist, or Akathistos Hymn. The 6th century Marian devotion, attributed to St. Romanos the Melodist, is “one of the greatest marvels of Greek religious poetry, with a richness of imagery that is the despair of any translator,” says Fr. Michael. The title “Akathistos” literally means “non-sitting,” because all remain standing while it is sung.
The worshippers met at 9:00 p.m. in the fittingly dark, intimate environs of the Guadalupe Chapel in the Doheny Hacienda. There they sang all 24 of the hymn’s main stanzas. “The greater part of the hymn is made up of praises addressed to the Holy Virgin, each beginning with the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel — ‘hail’ or ‘rejoice,’” explains Fr. Michael. “It passes in review the main events connected with Christ’s Incarnation, starting with the Annunciation and ending with the Flight into Egypt and the Presentation in the Temple.
The long stanzas, each bearing the title ikos, end with the refrain, “Rejoice, O Bride and maiden ever pure,” while each short stanza, or kontakion, concludes with “Alleluia!”