At the end of the fifth week of Great Lent we are given great comfort and encouragement by the Most Holy Theotokos in the service to her called the Laudation of the Mother of God.
At the Matins Service, which is held on Friday evening, we read the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, composed in 626 to commemorate the deliverance of Constantinople from the attack by the Scythes.
After “God is the Lord” (the beginning of Matins after the Six Psalms) the troparion of the day is sung in the eighth tone:
Taking knowledge of the secret command, the bodiless Archangel went with haste to Joseph’s dwelling, and said to her that knew not wedlock: ‘He who in His self-abasement bowed the heavens and came down, is housed wholly and unchanged in thee. I see Him take the form of a servant in thy womb, and in wonder cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride without bridegroom’.
The Akathist consists of twenty-four verses (twelve kontakia and twelve ikoses) and is read in four parts, each time three ikoses and kontakia: first after the sixteenth and seventeenth kathisma reading, second after the third ode of the canon, and fourth after the six ode. Each reading begins and ends by singing the kontakion, To Thee the Champion Leader. At each reading the priest comes out of the altar through the royal doors into the center of the church.
Kontakion, Tone 8:
To Thee the Champion Leader we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving, as ones rescued out of suffering, O Theotokos. But as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry unto Thee: rejoice Thou bride unwedded.