Posted by: anna | April 19, 2010

Akathist of Thanksgiving

I have made the acquaintance of a new prayer today, the Akathist of Thanksgiving by Fr Gregory Petroff (or maybe by Metropolitan Tryphon of Turkestan?). I had never heard of this before, but I ‘happened’ to hear part of it on Ancient Faith Radio, sung by the choir of St Ignatius Antiochian church. And it made me think.

I don’t like being a single person, I didn’t choose it, and I don’t suppose I bear it with much grace. I don’t accept it as the way my life is supposed to be always. But I can at least see two things:

1) Most everybody has some kind of void in their life, some dissatisfaction, some regret – often big ones. It’s no good looking longingly at someone else’s life. Nobody leads a charmed life, though occasionally one meets somebody who does seem to have everything they want fall into line for them. (Lucky them!) But if anyone really does manage to slide through this life without any major incidents, I expect they were missing out on something good, too. ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’ (Philo of Alexandria), and not everybody will be willing or able to make it easy to be kind to them by showing you what that battle is.

2) There is so much good in the world. I am not a Pollyanna, but I agree with Carl Larsson’s philosophy that one must make up one’s mind to turn again and again to the light. There is plenty of darkness, and it takes no effort to concentrate on that. A little thing can cast a big shadow. But no matter how badly my day is going, nothing can make a tulip any the less beautiful. And so I am grateful, which is no less than the action of turning toward the light. More from Fr Stephen of Glory to God for All Things on the subject of thankfulness

Back to the Akathist of Thanksgiving. (By the way, the akathist is beautiful and moving and prayerful in itself, but how much more poignant – and, ahem, humbling – when you know what it came out of.) I was never comfortable, in my more Protestant existence, with extempore prayer – not something that Anglicanism in general is good at… What a huge hoard of prayers we have to draw on! We do not have to rely on our own feelings or eloquence at any particular time. But how personal ‘set’ prayers can be! Even if we pray the same words several times a day, they are never quite the same. This Lent I was looking forward so much to singing various particular hymns in the days leading up to Pascha – and it wasn’t the same as last year. The words and the music were the same, but I wasn’t. The prayers were still profound and moving, but I responded differently to different parts of them. Different phrases and sentences ‘jumped out’ at me this year.

Now here’s the first instalment of another adventure, which is what happens when words on paper suddenly become real. I think I will have to go and say the Akathist of Thanksgiving one morning on the allotment soon – it expresses such unalloyed delight in the natural world. Reading it over several times just now, having come to it for the first time today, the second and third Kontakia and Ikoi jumped out at me:

KONTAKION 2

Lord, how good it is to be Your guest; the delicately scented wind, the mountains stretching to the sky, the waters reflecting like infinite mirrors, the golden rays of sun, the airiness of clouds. All nature secretly whispers, full of tenderness, and even the birds and beasts bear the mark of Your Love. Blessed is mother earth with her transient beauty, longing for the homeland which is eternal and where an imperishable beauty rings out: Alleluia.

Ikos

You brought me into this life as into an enchanting paradise. The sky is a deep blue vessel of azure out of which rings the sound of birds; there is the rustling sound of the forest and the sweet sounding music of the waters; the fragrant and sweet fruit and honey which we eat. It is good to be with You on earth, joyous to be Your guest:

Glory to You, for the festival of life,
Glory to You, for the fragrant lilies of the valley and the roses,
Glory to You, for the delectable variety of berries and fruits,
Glory to You, for the morning dew, shining like diamonds,
Glory to You, for the smile of awakening enlightenment,
Glory to You, for all that is heavenly, foreshadowing eternal life,
Glory to You, O God, unto ages of ages.

KONTAKION 3

Every flower is fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, in a delicate flow of aroma and tenderness of color; the beauty of the Great contained in what is small. Praise and honor to God Who gives life, Who spreads forth the meadows like a flowering carpet, Who crowns the fields with golden ears of wheat and azure basilisks, and the soul with the joy of contemplation. Let us rejoice and sing to Him: Alleluia.

Ikos

How beautiful You are in the triumphant festival of spring, when all creatures come to life again and in a thousand ways joyfully call out to You: You are the source of life; You are the victor over death.

To the song of the nightingale, the valleys and forests stand in snow white bridal array by the light of the season. All the earth is Your bride, waiting for the immortal bridegroom. If You clothe even the grass in such a splendid way, how will You transfigure us in the future age of resurrection, how will our bodies be made light and our souls be made luminous:

Glory to You, Who brought out of the earth’s darkness diversity of color, taste, and fragrance,
Glory to You, for the warmth and caress of all nature,
Glory to You, for surrounding us with thousands of Your creatures,
Glory to You, for the depth of Your wisdom reflected in the whole world,
Glory to You, I kiss reverently the footprint of Your invisible tread,
Glory to You, Who kindled before us the bright light of eternal life,
Glory to You, for the hope of immortal, ideal, incorruptible beauty,
Glory to You, O God, unto ages of ages.

Glory to thee, our God, glory to thee.

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Responses

  1. That is one of the most amazingly beautiful Akathists I have ever heard, it stuns me with the beauty every time I read it or hear it read.

    Lord have Mercy.

  2. I too love this Akathist… the first time I heard it was in my church here in Ottawa; felt like I had entered a joyous wedding feast upon hearing it!

    Yes, my married friends assure me that marriage is hard and that there is no perfect life…

    I need so much to stay thankful each day and so often I fail.

    Lord have mercy.


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