The word Akathist comes from the greek word Akathistos meaning "not sitting" and denotes a hymn of praise honoring Christ, the Mother of God or a saint which the congregation sings standing. The poetic hymn tells a story associated with the person or event which the Akathist is paying homage to.
It is composed of a series of stanzas. The shorter stanzas, called the Kontakion usually ends with the proclamation of "Alleluia!" The longer stanzas, refered to as the Ikos incorporates a series of invocations normally beginning with the word "Rejoice!" or "Hail!"
Typically, an Akathist is constructed with thirteen stanzas, each containing a Kontakion and an Ikos. In some Akathist services, psalms are also included. It is concluded by repeating the first Ikos and Kontakion and a closing prayer is said.