How did the akathist reading fashion come about?
The fashion for reading akathists has not appeared at all today, but just nowadays it has reached, perhaps, its maximum prosperity. What is the reason? What tastes impose such hymns on people in the Church? What can lead utilitarian attitude to this kind of church creativity? Let's talk about this in the article.
What is akathist?
Akathists could be called the verbal icon of a saint, a holiday or an event in the church life to which they are dedicated. Translated from the Greek, this word means "an anthem, during which it is not customary to sit." Therefore, in the Church Slavonic designation, he also received the name “not saddle” or “not saddle song”.
Akathist consists of 24 stanzas (ikosov and kondak), which alternate with each other.Kontak- This is a short song of praise, it tells about the history of the holiday or the life of the saint.Ikosreveals the content of kondak in more detail. In addition, it contains certain praise ("Hayretizmy") starting with"Rejoice"(hence the name: Greek "Hyre"Means"Rejoice").
As a kind of church anthem, the akathist evolved from ancient kondaks. They differed significantly from our modern as the depth of meaning, and length. The very name “kondak”, which still designated the list written on both sides, testifies to their duration.
"Rejoice, Bride is Non-Bride," or How It Began
The first and only canonical akathist was written in Greek before the VII century and was dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos. In 626, the patriarch Sergius, in honor of the miraculous defense of Constantinople against the seizure of foreigners in the praise song of Our Lady, replaced the first stanza (cuculae) known to us "Climbed Governor". Today this church hymn is read according to the rules of the Great Lent for the feast of the Praise of the Virgin Mary. It's easy to recognize by chorus."Rejoice, Bride is Non-Bride."
Regarding the author of the first anthem, historians are still arguing. The most likely “candidates” for authorship are the Monk Roman Sweet Hero and the same Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople.It must be said that it is this laudatory song that is the pinnacle of all church hymnography. For a very long time, the word akathist meant only this text, later it received the name Great.
Interestingly, in Greece so far only this poetic creation has such a name; all other similar songs of praise are called there “like". Indeed, all the other akathists who know the Church took the Great as a model, and, according to most scholars, are only a primitive attempt to repeat it. When compared with fiction, they are a genre of fiction among the rest of the church of high art.
The reading of akathists is especially popular in our country over the last century and a half, and it does not subside to this day. Moreover, heightened interest in this kind of church hymnography can now be called a real akathist "boom."
Undoubtedly, they are also sales leaders among the entire mass of published Orthodox literature. What are the reasons for such demand? We name only the main ones:
- Simplicity of form and content.We talked about the fact that all akathist were written according to one pattern - sample. Therefore, they have a simple, easily perceived structure, and rarely differ in depth and diversity of content.
- Small volume. This type of laudatory hymns, moreover, is distinguished by a relatively small volume as compared with the ancient kondaks and other services. And since these church hymns belong to a variety of poetic creativity, then reading them for this reason is not difficult at all.
- Technical Availability. The small volume of akathists is precisely the possibility of their large replication. Accordingly, to acquire them is also not a big problem. It is always easier and more interesting for people to pray, having the text at their fingertips. This is also one of the reasons for its popularity.
- Folk singing. In many temples (although not in all), the congregational singing of some parts of the akathist is practiced, that is, the performance by all those who have gathered in the temple. Most often, a rehearsing chorus is sung together, but sometimes all the hi-Rism. Of course, people like this lively participation in church prayer.
- Diversity. The number of akathists for all possible cases of life has long gone beyond reason. This is due, in the first place, to the utilitarian attitude towards them, but, on the other hand, it does not allow them to get tired because of their addiction.
Church "pharmacy" or pagan myth-making?
It is worthwhile to talk about the utilitarian, that is, consumer attitude towards akathists. It should be called, perhaps, the most important reason for their popularity in our consumer society. A huge number of the most diverse church hymns are also explained by nothing more than a consumer attitude towards them.
What is it manifested in? For each akathist, as well as for many saints and icons in the popular consciousness, for some reason, a strictly defined kind of help was fixed in one way or another of everyday needs. For example, John the Warrior must help to find some lost thing, and to heal Saint Antipas from a toothache.
Sometimes this relationship is transparent and quite perceptible. Saints Panteleimon, Cosmas and Damian, Luke of Crimea were doctors during their lifetime, so it is logical that they can help their prayers to sick people now that they are right before the throne of God.
At times, the saint's attachment to a certain disease or function is simply absurd. For example, why is it considered that John the Baptist should pray with a headache, if he was slain through a truncation of the head?
There are many such examples. But their essence boils down to one thing - it is impossible to attribute any one specific area of action to a saint. This diminishes, firstly, the very meaning of holiness, and secondly, it creates a whole pantheon of pagan gods, each of whom is responsible for something in the world. The reading of the Akathists themselves is thus also humiliated, since some magical role is attributed to them.
We need to remember that not a specific set of words or calling for the help of a particular saint can change God's wrath for mercy. This can only be done by our sincere crying out to God along with repentance, the desire not to sin anymore. Everything else is auxiliary things, they may not be.
When is it customary to read akathists?
The charter of the Orthodox Church says nothing about the liturgical use of akathists. The only exception is one church hymn, the same“Rejoice, Bride is Non-Bride”. He is required to read on the Saturday morning of the fifth week of Lent, also called for this reason.The Sabbath of the Akathist;orPraise of the Virgin.
From this we can conclude that the reading of this type of church prayers is only a pious tradition, folk practice. Therefore, it is possible to read akathists at home at any time and in any quantity, and it is not necessary to take this blessing for this.
As for the use in the church, akathists are often included in the molebens, especially custom ones. This does not contradict any church norms and is completely acceptable. In addition, in some temples there is a tradition to include the reading of an akathist in the composition of Matins instead of the Kathisma of the Psalter. Most theologians and liturgists are very negative about this, which we cannot but agree with. Here is what he wrote, for exampleArchimandrite Cyprian (Kern):But already the replacement of the akathist kafism of the Psalter, as it is - alas! - often done, is simply the abuse of the charter, liturgical illiteracy and aesthetic tastelessness
Also in the church consciousness firmly established the view that Lent is not the right time for such songs of praise. But nowhere is there such a categorical prohibition, it is not registered by anyone.On the contrary, the only time when the statute prescribes singing an akathist is precisely at the time of Lent.
Moreover, in the Greek tradition it is read in one piece on all the first Saturdays of the fast, and then, like us, it sounds completely. The ban on reading akathists to the Holy Fourth-Grand can only follow from the logic of the post itself. During this period, of course, it is more appropriate to read the Psalter, which is permeated with penitential feeling. But if instead of akathist a person does not pray at all, then let him be content with at least this small spiritual consolation.
The problems of modern akathist creativity are told by the teacher of MDAiS F. B. Lyudogovsky: