Kontakion

Icon of St. Romanos the Melodist chanting his kontakion (1649, Malaryta, Belarus).

The kontakion ( Greek: κοντάκιον, also transliterated as kondakion and kontakio; plural Greek: κοντάκια, kontakia) is a form of hymn performed in the Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic liturgical traditions. The kontakion originated in the Byzantine Empire around the sixth century CE. It is divided into strophes (oikoi, stanzas) and begins with a prologue (the prooimoion or koukoulion). The kontakion usually has a biblical theme, and often features dialogue between biblical characters. By far the most important writer of kontakia is Romanos the Melodist. The only kontakion that is regularly performed in full today is the Akathist to the Theotokos.

Etymology

The word 'kontakion' derives from the Greek κόνταξ (kontax), which means 'rod' or 'stick' and refers specifically to the pole around which a scroll is wound. [1] The term describes the way in which the words on a scroll unfurl as it is read. The word was originally used to describe an early Byzantine poetic form, whose origins date back certainly as far as the sixth century CE, and possibly earlier. Nevertheless, the term itself is of ninth-century origin. [2]

There is also a chant book named after the hymn genre kontakion, the kontakarion ( Greek: κοντακάριον) or kondakar ( Old Church Slavonic: Кондакар). The kontakarion is not just a collection of kontakia: within the tradition of the Cathedral Rite (like the rite practiced at the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople) it became the name of the book of the prechanter or lampadarios, also now as "psaltikon", which contained all the soloistic parts of hymns sung during the morning service and the Divine Liturgy. Because the kontakia were usually sung by protopsaltes during the morning services, the first part for the morning service with its prokeimena and kontakia was the most voluminous part, so it was simply called kontakarion.

Other Languages
беларуская: Кандак
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кандак
български: Кондак
čeština: Kondak
Deutsch: Kontakion
Ελληνικά: Κοντάκιο
español: Kontakion
français: Kontakion
Հայերեն: Կոնդակ
italiano: Contacio
Latina: Contacium
polski: Kondakion
português: Kontakion
română: Condac
русский: Кондак
slovenčina: Kondák
suomi: Kontakki
Türkçe: Kontakion
українська: Кондак (піснеспів)