Ἄξιόν ἐστιν/Axion Estin
«Ἄξιόν ἐστιν ὡς ἀληθῶς μακαρίζειν σε τὴν Θεοτόκον, τὴν ἀειμακάριστον καὶ παναμώμητον καὶ μητέρα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν. Τὴν τιμιωτέραν τῶν Χερουβεὶμ καὶ ἐνδοξοτέραν ἀσυγκρίτως τῶν Σεραφείμ, τὴν ἀδιαφθόρως Θεὸν Λόγον τεκοῦσαν, τὴν ὄντως Θεοτόκον, σὲ μεγαλύνομεν.»
“Truly it is right to call you blessed, Theotokos, ever blessed and all-pure and the Mother of our God. More honourable than the Cherubim, incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, who undefiled gave birth to God the Word, true Theotokos, we magnify you.”
This hymn is one of the most well-known chants in honour of the Theotokos.
The second part of the hymn – beginning with “More honourable than…” – was composed by St Kosmas in the 8th century. Tradition tells us that St Kosmas felt the need to compose this hymn as a comfort for the Theotokos who suffered pain and agony on seeing Her Son on the Cross.
Upon composing this hymn, St Kosmas was visited by the Theotokos Herself, who proceeded to thank him, saying that she found comfort in this hymn and that she is present wherever it is chanted, blessing in return those who bless her in chanting it.
The first part was added much later as a result of a great miracle. A monk of Mount Athos called Father Gabriel was performing an all-night Vigil service. During the service, an unknown monk knocked at his cell and asked to participate in the service with him. As Father Gabriel was about to chant the hymn “More honourable than the Cherubim…”, the unknown monk suddenly broke out into the chant, “Truly it is right to call you blessed…”
Father Gabriel was amazed as he had never heard this hymn before. At the end of the service, he asked the unknown monk to write out the hymn, however there was no ink or paper. The monk then inscribed the hymn onto a piece of wood with his finger and vanished. Tradition says the unknown monk was the Archangel Gabriel, who revealed the hymn to humanity to show us the truly right way to praise and magnify the Bearer of God.
Source: Lychnos August–September 2020