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The kontakion originated in the Byzantine Empire around the 6th century and is closely associated with Saint Romanos the Melodist (d. 556). It is divided into strophes (oikoi or ikoi, stanzas; singular oikos or ikos) and begins with a prologue (the prooimoion or koukoulion). A kontakion usually has a biblical theme, and often features dialogue between biblical characters. The only kontakion that is regularly celebrated in full length today is the Akathist to the Theotokos.
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