The Acathist Hymn and Matins for Annunciation

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Program: #05-02   Air Date: Jan 03, 2005

The program is sponsored in part by the Belgian Tourist Office and the Embassy of Belgium in Washington, D.C. For more information on visiting Belgium (including the Abbey), you may contact the Belgian Tourist Office at:

All of the music on this program is from the recording made by the Choir of the Monks of Chevetogne directed by Fr. Thomas Pott. You may reach the Abbey at their web site:

I. Acathist:
From the Greek a-kathistos ("not sitting"), this 6th century
hymn was composed as a celebration for Mary for the day after Christmas. It was sung during a vigil in August 626 as Constantinople was under siege, and the miraculous defeat of the attacking Avars was attributed to the intervention of the Mother of God. It was sung for the Feast of the Annunciation until the late 9th century, when the newly-written liturgy for that Feast (March 25th) superceded it; so as to preserve this popular work, it was moved to the 5th Saturday of Lent.

--From the First Kondakion:
"To thee, our leader in battle and defender,
O Theotokos, we they servants, delivered from calamity, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving ."

The hymn continues as a remarkable setting of the scene where the Archangel Gabriel comes to the Virgin and stands "rapt in amazement and cries out to her," hailing her with scores of honorific praises ("O Star who manifest the Sun," "O you who surpass the wisdom of the wise").

II. Feast of the Annunciation:
One of the early discussions in the church was the date of Christ's birth--by the late 4th century, the general agreement was that Christ's spiritual birth was at the time of His conception, which occurs at the same time as his Passion (that is, spring--the earliest writings set the Passion at the vernal equinox, which was traditionally set on March 25th). Thus, by 560, Justinian's decree agreed to the Christmas date, the Presentation of Jesus 40 days later (February 2nd), and the Annunciation nine months prior on the 25th of March.

--From the Troparion:
"Today is the dawning of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery that is from all eternity. The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel announces the good tidings of grace."

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