Akathist Hymn to Saint Yakov, Enlightener of Alaska

Kontakion 1

Holy Father Yakov, whose children number more than the stars in the northern sky, whose life and teachings are a ladder reaching from earth to Heaven: you wrestled with temptation and fought the good fight, and thereby became our valiant intercessor before the Lord our God. Pray to Him for us who venerate your sacred memory and who strive to continue your holy work as the New Israel in the New World of America. Thus, we may sing with love and joy to you, the messenger of reconciliation and peace:

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Ikos 1

Born on the Island dedicated to the Great Martyr George, O Saint Yakov, you became a warrior for Christ, having vanquished every temptation that arose within your heart and soul. You brought peace to a land where only violence had reigned, reconciling hostile tribes by preaching the Gospel of peace and forgiveness. You became a holy father of many nations as you baptized and enlightened thousands of people who had never before known Jesus Christ — pastoring your scattered flock in the Aleutian Islands, the Yukon Delta, and at New Archangel. In your humility, devotion, piety and perseverance, you became the image of the perfect evangelist to us who stand before your holy icon and offer these praises to you:

Rejoice, first flower of the Alaskan wilderness.

Rejoice, first son of the Aleut nation called to the holy priesthood.

Rejoice, abiding joy of the Pribilof Islands.

Rejoice, revered father of Atka and the Aleutian Archipelago.

Rejoice, candle creating light in the Arctic night.

Rejoice, ember kindling the flames of Christian Faith in the North.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 2

From your youth, blessed Yakov, your parents guided you on the path of salvation. Your childhood among your mother’s Aleut kinsmen prepared you well for your future missionary labors. Fluent in their ancient language, you also offered prayers to God in your father’s Slavic tongue. At an early age, you joined the Aleut and Russian faithful who gathered in the chapel of Saint George, singing: Alleluia.

Ikos 2

Setting sail for Kamchatka, you continued across the frozen tundra of Siberia to the shores of Lake Baikal, to enroll at the seminary in glorious Irkutsk. You mastered theology in the city of Saint Innocent, Enlightener of Siberia’s Native Peoples, and studied his respectful approach to their languages and cultural traditions. Returning to America with your young bride, Anna Simeonova, you began your evangelical work at Atka where today you are remembered with love:

Rejoice, benefactor of the Atkan church.

Rejoice, baptizer of Aleut men, women and children.

Rejoice, teacher and builder of the True Faith.

Rejoice, beautiful adornment of the land of your ancestors.

Rejoice, heroic missionary to the Peoples of the North.

Rejoice, humble architect of the Holy Church in the Aleutian Islands.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 3

Learning of the labors of your friend and mentor Saint Innocent, you devoted yourself to mastering his Aleut translation of the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Adapting the text to the Atkan dialect, you proclaimed the good news to your flock who sang: Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Following the example of Saint Innocent, the future Metropolitan of Moscow, you established a school at Atka where children could learn to read in both Aleut and Russian. You translated sacred Scripture and deepened their knowledge of God and His creation by your dedicated instruction. Enlightened by your teaching at church and in school, the people of Atka praise you with these words of thanksgiving:

Rejoice, zealous apostle to the New World.

Rejoice, beloved son of both Russia and America.

Rejoice, diligent worker for Jesus Christ.

Rejoice, adopted son of the Theotokos.

Rejoice, for your teaching endures as our spiritual legacy.

Rejoice, for your example inspires our evangelical labors.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 4

Recognizing your talents and devotion, the Holy Synod enlarged your district to include the Kurile Islands, far to the West. Sailing across the Bering Straits to evangelize the Native people there, you celebrated Divine Services aboard ship and in your tent-church, singing: Alleluia.

Ikos 4

Blessed Father Yakov, you endured the hazards of travel in the North throughout your entire life. Like the holy Apostle Paul, you experienced storms at sea as well as temptation and persecution on land. You were constantly ill, bedridden for many days, unable to stand or to walk. You persevered through many hardships to bring the light of Christ to your flock in remote villages and settlements. By the power of the glorified and resurrected Lord, you continued your apostolic ministry in Alaska where you are remembered today in songs of praise:

Rejoice, for you suffered many temptations and fears.

Rejoice, for you triumphed over them by the grace of God.

Rejoice, for you sailed tempestuous seas, like the holy apostles.

Rejoice, for you received the power of the Holy Spirit as they did on Pentecost.

Rejoice, longsuffering servant of the Lord, patient and forgiving.

Rejoice, humble pastor of the Church, gathering together the flock.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 5

Returning again to your home at Atka, you offered thanks to God for your safe journey. Warmed by the love of your flock and your family, you renewed your dedication to the service of the Lord, constructing a holy church and writing the icons for it yourself. Since the temple was dedicated in the name of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia, you sang thankfully to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 5

Your life, Saint Yakov, was filled with disappointment, hardship and tragedy. Your wife, Anna, became ill and died at the hospital in Sitka. Your house at Atka burned and your nephew Vasily, whom you loved as a son, also suddenly died, leaving you homeless and alone. Your desire was to enter monastic life, but there was no one to replace you. You obediently remained in the Aleutians for twenty years, where today you are remembered with gratitude:

Rejoice, for you accepted and endured all things as decreed by the Lord.

Rejoice, for you loved Him with all your mind, soul and heart.

Rejoice, for you persevered in times of tribulation and need.

Rejoice, for you prevailed over temptation, depression and fear.

Rejoice, lamp illuminating the household of faith.

Rejoice, flame glowing with love and harmony for those near and far.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 6

Traveling throughout the Aleutians by kayak, you set up your tent-church in camps, temporary settlements and villages — preaching, teaching, encouraging, and confirming your spiritual children in the True Faith. They were amazed at your energy and dedication, and loved you as their faithful guide and father, praising God with the song: Alleluia.

Ikos 6

Having established the True Faith in your native land, you were transferred to another region and entrusted with an even greater task. Saint Innocent, as your bishop, appointed you to the new mission station on the Yukon River. There you began the evangelization of the Yup’ik Eskimos. You studied their language and began the work of enlightening them with the help of many Aleuts who had settled among them. Throughout western Alaska, the Yup’ik people celebrate your memory with these words:

Rejoice, for you were entrusted to enlighten the Yukon Delta.

Rejoice, for you earnestly evangelized the Aleut and Eskimo nations.

Rejoice, for you were all things to the Peoples of the North.

Rejoice, for you attended to the children and to the elders.

Rejoice, baptizer of the Yukon and Kuskokwim.

Rejoice, sanctifier of the forests, lakes and tundra.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 7

You founded the parish of the Elevation of the Holy Cross and built the first Christian temple on the banks of the Yukon. Writing many icons for the church yourself, you glorified God for the fervent faith of your spiritual children whom you taught to sing: Alleluia.

Ikos 7

The Athabaskan Indians, whose homeland lies in the heartland of Alaska, heard of your mission work among their Eskimo neighbors and invited you to visit them. Paddling upstream, you reached their settlement at Shageluk in three days, and preached the Word of God to them. You counted over a hundred canoes, kayaks and boats converging on the river, and there you baptized more than three hundred souls. Their descendants today glorify you thus:

Rejoice, spiritual nourishment of the Indian Peoples.

Rejoice, herald of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Rejoice, for you brought the divine message of love to warring enemies.

Rejoice, for you united them to Christ and to one another as they accepted the Orthodox Faith.

Rejoice, for they requested holy Baptism in the Shageluk River.

Rejoice, for they received the Heavenly Bread and the Cup of Life from your hands.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 8

United in truth and in love, the Athabaskan peoples embraced the Orthodox Faith and ended centuries of inter-tribal strife and violence. You became blessed as a child of God, preaching the Gospel of peace and reconciling former enemies who exclaimed in wonder and joy: Alleluia.

Ikos 8

Traveling across the frozen tundra by dog sled, you struggled to visit the Eskimo settlements in the delta region. You discovered the site of Saint Juvenaly’s martyrdom and asked his intercessions for your apostolic labors. Your missionary endeavors required you to risk your health and safety as you persevered for nearly twenty more years on the shores of the Bering Sea, where we celebrate your memory in song:

Rejoice, for you died to self for the love of Christ.

Rejoice, physician of souls and bodies, blessed in spirit by Saint Juvenaly.

Rejoice, for you carried the Gospel to distant lands and peoples.

Rejoice, preacher of the good news of eternal salvation.

Rejoice, true shepherd known of the sheep.

Rejoice, messenger of reconciliation in Christ.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 9

Stricken ill with fever and bodily weakness, with no one to care for you, bedridden for weeks, unable to stand or walk — you remained steadfast in faith, persevering in hope, and constant in prayer. Rising from your bed you managed to celebrate the Divine Services of Holy Week and Pascha. Transformed and renewed by the joy of the Resurrection, you cried out fervently to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Saint Innocent, your bishop who appreciated your talents and dedication, conferred and consulted with you about the progress of the mission in Alaska and recognized your accomplishments. Others were jealous or ignorant of your true character and unjustly attacked you. Knowing of your remarkable humility and patience, we sing with love to you:

Rejoice, for you prayed for those who criticized and slandered you.

Rejoice, for you followed the Lord’s command and example, and forgave them all.

Rejoice, for you blessed those who cursed you.

Rejoice, for you did good to those who attacked and offended you.

Rejoice, perfect image of Christian charity.

Rejoice, icon of Christ and His faithful servant.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 10

The Eskimo children at the Yukon mission attended your school, where they learned to read the Scriptures and sing sacred hymns in their own language. Celebrating the Liturgy in Slavonic, Greek and Yup’ik, you taught all to praise God also in Hebrew: Alleluia.

Ikos 10

For nearly forty years you dwelt in the Alaskan wilderness, serving Jesus Christ as a modern apostle. You brought healing to the sick as an elder of the Church, fulfilling the instructions of your apostolic namesake, James. In thanksgiving for your missionary labors and the miraculous cures that accompanied your ministry, we offer these hymns from our unworthy lips:

Rejoice, priest of God forever and guide of the faithful to eternity.

Rejoice, constant intercessor, lifting up the hearts of the people to the heights of Heaven.

Rejoice, for your soul was renewed by the joy of the Resurrection.

Rejoice, for you ascended the ladder that reaches to the Kingdom.

Rejoice, for you endured evil attacks and forgave all your foes.

Rejoice, by forgiving your enemies you were forgiven your sins.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 11

Having founded and nurtured the parish on the Yukon, you trained local leaders to succeed you and continue your holy work. Some became singers, others readers, and still others priests, who sang with the choirs of the angels: Alleluia.

Ikos 11

Summoned to Sitka to answer unjust accusations against you, and thereby leaving the land of the Eskimo people, you entered the territory of the Tlingit. You spent the last years of your earthly life serving them in their chapel and preaching the Word of God to them. Today, they join us in singing these praises to you:

Rejoice, apostle to all Alaska and successor to all the apostles.

Rejoice, father of the Native Peoples and heir of the holy fathers.

Rejoice, for your words and deeds were guided by the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, for your way of life was directed by the Scriptures.

Rejoice, partaker of the mission of Saint Herman and Saint Innocent.

Rejoice, faithful and humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 12

While in Sitka, you located the gravesite of your beloved wife and built a fitting memorial to her. You lived in the All-Colonial School during your final years, offering your knowledge and wisdom to another generation of future missionaries. With simplicity and humility, you prepared new laborers for the plentiful harvest. Through them we have become your spiritual children, and praise God for your faithful ministry in Alaska, singing: Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Holy Father Yakov, you fell asleep in the Lord and were buried in a place of honor — at the doors of the Tlingit chapel in which you had served. The Aleuts, Russians, Creoles, Athabascan, as well as the Yup’ik and Tlingit nations today celebrate your memory:

Rejoice, beloved teacher, passing on truth to future generations.

Rejoice, spiritual father, preparing plentiful harvests for others.

Rejoice, for the seas, forests, mountains and tundra sing your praises.

Rejoice, for Heaven and earth celebrate your apostolic accomplishments.

Rejoice, our guide on the narrow path.

Rejoice, our example of unselfish service.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Kontakion 13

Beyond Alaska you were forgotten for more than a hundred years, but your spiritual children kept the memory of your heroic apostolic ministry alive in their hearts. Today, you are glorified as a modern apostle. Pray for us, Saint Yakov, that inspired by your dedication, patience, humility and Paschal joy, we may worthily continue the sacred work to which you dedicated your entire life. In this way, together with you in the Kingdom of Heaven, we may join the angelic choirs, singing: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

(Repeat Kontakion 13 three times.)

Kontakion 1 (repeated)

Holy Father Yakov, whose children number more than the stars in the northern sky, whose life and teachings are a ladder reaching from earth to Heaven: you wrestled with temptation and fought the good fight, and thereby became our valiant intercessor before the Lord our God. Pray to Him for us who venerate your sacred memory and who strive to continue your holy work as the New Israel in the New World of America. Thus, we may sing with love and joy to you, the messenger of reconciliation and peace:

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

Ikos 1 (repeated)

Born on the Island dedicated to the Great Martyr George, O Saint Yakov, you became a warrior for Christ, having vanquished every temptation that arose within your heart and soul. You brought peace to a land where only violence had reigned, reconciling hostile tribes by preaching the Gospel of peace and forgiveness. You became a holy father of many nations as you baptized and enlightened thousands of people who had never before known Jesus Christ — pastoring your scattered flock in the Aleutian Islands, the Yukon Delta, and at New Archangel. In your humility, devotion, piety and perseverance, you became the image of the perfect evangelist to us who stand before your holy icon and offer these praises to you:

Rejoice, first flower of the Alaskan wilderness.

Rejoice, first son of the Aleut nation called to the holy priesthood.

Rejoice, abiding joy of the Pribilof Islands.

Rejoice, revered father of Atka and the Aleutian Archipelago.

Rejoice, candle creating light in the Arctic night.

Rejoice, ember kindling the flames of Christian Faith in the North.

Rejoice, Saint Yakov, Baptizer and Enlightener of the Native Peoples of Alaska.

A Prayer

Holy Saint Yakov, you bore your cross so that others might see the light of Christ shining through your unselfish labors. You fulfilled your apostolic mission, infusing languages and cultures with the teachings of the Church and demonstrating obedience and forgiveness through word and deed. We are all your spiritual children, in the same manner that we have all inherited the evangelical works of the Apostle Paul. We ask for your continued guidance on the narrow path that leads to eternal life, that no soul should be lost to outer darkness or worldly discord. May we regard all life as precious and pray for one another, strengthened and inspired by your holy example. Enlighten us, Father Yakov, and gather us together in the Name of Christ, our only Savior. Amen.

[Attention: Due to the disproportionate repetition of certain themes and words in the original (as accessed) text, some verses were reconstructed or replaced with newly written verses. The purpose was to create greater poetic freshness and to enrich the content. This is therefore a highly altered document.]

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