The main body of Anim Zemirot is composed of 31 original verses, followed by two verses from Tanach: the first from Chronicles 29:11 and the second from Psalms 106:2. From the fifth to the twenty-eighth verse, the verses each begin with the successive letter in the Hebrew alphabet, except for the letter reish (ר) and tav (ת), both of which appear twice. As there are an odd number of verses within the main body, the congregation traditionally recites the last verse of the main body along with the shaliach tzibbur. The last two verses are then recited alone by the members of the congregation; the shaliach tzibbur recites the verse from Psalms aloud to indicate the completion of Anim Zemirot and allow the members of the congregation who are saying kaddish yatom (קדיש יתום, Mourners' kaddish) to begin their recitation.
The Holy Ark is opened for the recital of Anim Zemirot, befitting its formal title of "The Song of Glory." There is an account that this name originated because of an old tradition to recite the last four verses of Psalm 24 prior to reciting Anim Zemirot. According to the Levush, the recital of Anim Zemirot has been restricted so that it not become overly familiar and mundane. While most communities recite is every Shabbos and on most Jewish holidays, the Vilna Gaon was of the opinion that it should be recited only on the Jewish holidays. A small minority of congregations may even restrict its recitation even further, reciting it only on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.