Ton Despotin is an acclamation chanted by the cantor or choir in honour of a bishop when he gives a blessing in the Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic churches. While the Divine Liturgy may be chanted in any language, Ton Despotin is almost always chanted in the original Greek.
The words in Greek are:
- "Τον Δεσπότην και Αρχιερέα ημών, Κύριε φύλαττε, εις πολλά έτη, Δέσποτα"
- Ton Despόtēn kai Arkhieréa hēmōn, Kýrie phýlatte, eis pollá etē, Déspota
An English translation would read:
- Preserve, O Lord, our Master and Hierarch. Many years to you, Master!
The final phrase Eis pollá étē, Déspota is usually chanted three times, each with progressively more elaborate embellishment.
There are many musical settings for the hymn, which can be roughly divided into simple and elaborate, each being used at different points during the services. Often, Ton Despótēn is chanted while the bishop, vested in full, stands on an eagle rug and blesses his flock with dikirion and trikirion.
An abbreviated form, consisting only of plainchanting Eis pollá etē, Déspota three times, is used at less solemn blessings.