Holy Week is the last week of Lent, when we follow Jesus Christ from Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion, to His death on Good Friday in preparation for His Resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. A major part of Holy Week involves a meditation on His Passion, which is read twice, once on Palm Sunday (this year from St. Mark), and again on Good Friday from St. John’s Gospel. We offer a reflection on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, based on the Akathist Hymn of the Passion.

The Akathist (“un-seated”) hymn is one of the most well-loved services of devotion in the Eastern Churches. (The word akathistos literally means “not sitting.” The name derives from the fact that during the chanting of the hymn, the congregation is expected to remain standing in reverence, without sitting down, except for the aged or infirm.) Although there is some debate concerning the particulars of its authorship, many scholars agree with the pious tradition which states that the original Akathist of Our Lady was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, “the city of the Virgin,” by St. Romanos the Melodist, who died in the year 556 A.D.

The Akathist Hymn has proved so popular that many other hymns have been written following its format, particularly in the Russian Orthodox Church. These include Akathists to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Holy Cross, and to various saints. Normally all participants stand while it is being prayed.

The hymn itself is divided into 13 parts, each of which is composed of a kontakion and an oikos (the Greek for “house,” possibly derived from Syriac terminology). The kontakion usually ends with the exclamation: Alleluia, which is repeated by a choir in full settings or chanted by the reader in simple settings. (We have space here for only a small portion of this hymn.)

Our readers from the Latin rite will be surprised to find the expression “Alleluia” in the text, even during Lent. An interesting difference between the Eastern and Western observances is that while in the West the chanting of Alleluia ceases during Lent, in the East its use is increased. This is because for the East, fasting should be joyous (cf. Matthew 6:16), and the sense of unworthiness must always be tempered with hope in God’s forgiveness.

Akathist to The Divine Passion of Christ

Kontakion 1

Supreme Ruler and Lord of Heaven and earth, seeing You, the Immortal King, hanging on the Cross, all creation was changed, Heaven was horrified, and the foundations of the earth were shaken. But we, unworthy as we are, offer You thankful adoration for Your Passion on our behalf, and with the Repentant Thief we cry to You: Jesus, Son of God, remember us when You come into Your Kingdom!

Oikos 1

In completing the choirs of angels, You did not take on the angelic nature, but being the Eternal God, for my sake You became Man, and You restored to life with Your Life-giving Body and Blood men who were dead through sin. Therefore, in gratitude for Your amazing love, we humbly cry to You:

Jesus, God, Eternal Love, Who was pleased to save us who are born of earth!

Jesus, Infinite Mercy, Who came down here to us fallen creatures!

Jesus, Who was clothed in our flesh and destroyed the dominion of death by Your death!

Jesus, Who deified us with Your Divine Mysteries!

Jesus, Who redeemed the whole world by Your Cross and Passion!

Jesus, Son of God, remember us when You come into Your Kingdom!


Kontakion 2

Seeing You in the Garden of Gethsemane struggling in prayer till You sweat blood, an angel appeared and strengthened You when our sins weighed upon You like a heavy burden. For, having taken the lost Adam on Your shoulders, You brought him to the Father by bending Your knees and praying. For this I sing to You with faith and love: Alleluia!

Oikos 2

The Jews did not know the incredible truth of Your voluntary Passion. Therefore, when You said to those who were seeking You at night with lanterns: I AM HE, even though they fell to the ground, yet afterwards they bound You and led You to the judgement hall. But we fall down before You on the Way of the Cross and cry with love:

Jesus, Light of the world, hated by evil and worldly people!

Jesus, Who dwells in unapproachable Light, seized by the realms of darkness!

Jesus, Immortal Son of God, condemned to death by a son of perdition!

Jesus, in Whom there is nothing false, falsely kissed by the traitor!

Jesus, Who give Yourself freely to all, sold for a sum of silver!

Jesus, Son of God, remember us when You come into Your



Kontakion 3

By the power of Your divinity Your foretold to Your apostle his threefold denial. But even though after this he denied You with an oath, yet when he saw You, His Lord and Master, in the high priest’s court his heart was touched, and he went out and wept bitterly. Look, then, also upon me, O Lord, and strike my hard heart, that with my tears I may wash away my sins and sing to You: Alleluia!

Oikos 3

Having true power as High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek, You stood before the criminal high priest Caiaphas. O Lord and Master of all, Who accepted torture from Your slaves, accept from us these prayers and praises:

Jesus, Priceless One Who was bought for a price, adopt me into Your eternal inheritance!

Jesus, desire of all nations, denied from fear by Peter, do not reject me, a sinner!

Jesus, Innocent Lamb, torn by cruel scourges, rescue me from my enemies!

Jesus, High Priest, Who entered the Holy of Holies with Your Blood, cleanse me from fleshly impurity!

Jesus bound, Who has power to bind and to loose, absolve my grievous sins!

Jesus, Son of God, remember us when You come into Your



Kontakion 4

Breathing a storm of murderous thoughts, the Jews having listened to the voice of the father of lies and manslayer from time immemorial, the devil, rejected You, the right Way, the Truth, and the Life. But we confess You to be Christ, the power of God, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and we cry: Alleluia!

Oikos 4

Having heard Your meek and gentle words, Pilate delivered You up to be crucified as deserving death, even though he himself bore witness that he had found not a single fault in You. Then he washed his hands, but defiled his heart. And wondering at the mystery of Your voluntary Passion, with compunction we cry to You:

Jesus, Son of God and Son of the Virgin, tortured by the sons of iniquity!

Jesus, mocked and stripped, Who gives the flowers of the field their beauty and decks the sky with clouds!

Jesus, covered with wounds, Who satisfied the hunger of five thousand men with five loaves of bread!

Jesus, King of all, who instead of a tribute of love and gratitude received cruel tortures!

Jesus, Who was wounded all the day long for our sake, heal the wounds of our souls!

Jesus, Son of God, remember us when You come into Your


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