The Akathist Hymn
The Orthodox Church worships God alone. Yet, she does offer veneration to individuals who have been important human instruments of God in the history of salvation. Among those so venerated is Mary, the Mother of God the Theotokos. The Orthodox Church greatly honors Mary because she was chosen to give birth to the Son of God. As one of the hymns declares:
"By singing praise to your maternity, we exalt you as a spiritual temple, Theotokos. For the One Who dwelt within your womb, the Lord who holds all things in his hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all to sing to you ... "
The most beautiful and poetic service of the Orthodox Church in honor of Mary, the Theotokos, is the Akathist Hymn. The word akathist means “without sitting.” The congregation stands throughout the Service out of respect for Mary and her unique role in our salvation in Christ. The Akathist Hymn is chanted in four parts (Salutations) during the first four Fridays of Great Lent. On the fifth Friday, the entire Service is chanted.