Basso Profondo from Old Russia
1. It is Truly Meet
(entrance preying, demestvenny chant, early Russian polyphon.)
Soloist Yury Vishnjakov (Basso Profondo). It is truly meet to bless thee, the Theotokos, ever-blessed and most blameless,
and Mother of our God. More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
who without corruption, gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
This hymn to the Mother of God is sung during various offices (matins,
Eucharist...). Here it is used for the rite welcoming the bishop
to the church before the Eucharistic liturgy. While the choir
sings the Marian hymn, the deacon pronounces the introductory
prayers. The polyphonic arrangement of this old melody is
characteristic of the "Pertessian" style from the beginning of
the 18th century.
We bow down before Your Cross. Music by P. Goncharov
During the celebrations of the Cross (Veneration of the Holy
Cross the fifth Sunday of Lent and the Exaltation of the Cross
on 14 September), this hymn replaces the Trisagion during the
Eucharist and accompanies the faithful as they bow before the
Cross. It's the only surviving composition by P. Gontcharov and
dates from the second half of the 19th century.
3. Before Thy Cross.
Music by Alexey Lvov (1798 – 1970)
A.F. Lvov (1798-1870) was director of the Imperial Chapel from
1837 to 1870 and a renowned violinist and fervent admirer of
German music. He imposed this style on Russian liturgical music
through the power of censorship he held over religious music
publication. He selected this excerpt from the Wednesday matins
from the fourth week of Lent because it resembled the Stabat
Mater of the Roman church. In addition, he reorchestrated
Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and arranged it for choir.
We hymn Thee (Znamenny neumatic chant).
An excerpt from the Eucharistic Canon, this chant is sung at the
culminating moment of the Eucharist during the
Transubstantiation. It's a "Znamenny" neumatic chant from the
Blessed is the man. Op.37, #2. Music by Pavel Chesnokov (1877 – 1944). Arr. by G. Smirnov
The verses of Psalm 1 are sung at each Saturday vespers. P.
Tchesnokov (1877-1944), one of the most exemplary composers from
the School of Moscow, adapted this traditional melody called "from
Kiev," taking pains to conserve the antiphonal style of the
Psalm as required by the Ordo, the liturgical canon.
6. Do not reject me in my old age. Music by Pavel Chesnokov, op.40, №5. Arr. by G.Smirnov.
Soloists, basses profondo: Jury Vishnjakov, Boris Chepikov, Victor Krjuchenkov
P. Tchesnokov was also one of the most accomplished specialists
in choral direction in Russia. His work on combining differing
vocal timbres and on intonation still carries weight. This piece
is a "concert" for choir and soloist. Even though composed on
verses from Psalm 70, it isn't part of the liturgical repertory;
however, it highlights the particular timbre of the "octavist"
7. The litany of supplication
This litany was interpreted in its time by Feodor Shaliapin and is taken from the Liturgia domestica op.79 by Alexander
Gretchaninov (1864-1956). It was originally written for voice with piano accompaniment and later was orchestrated and arranged
for choir by the composer. This version is an adaptation for male a cappella choir. Its pompous and melodramatic character is
closer in style to opera than it is to liturgical declamation.
8. Anathema (Ancient melody) Arr. by G. Smirnov
The Orthodox Church customarily cites each year the anathemas against heresy on the first Sunday of Lent called the "Sunday of
the Orthodox Triumph" in memory of the Church's victory over iconoclastic heresy. The deacon enumerates the heresies
condemned by the Church while the choir proclaims the anathema. During the centuries, the lists of heretics has had a tendency
to grow as governments began including their political enemies.
This chant concludes the mortuary offices (burials or offices of remembrance) and is also sung during the "Triumph of Orthodoxy"
office. The deacon recites the names of the deceased after which the choir sings an original melody from Kiev, Eternal memory.
Each office in the Orthodox rite concludes by wishing long life to the local deacon. This chant by an anonymous composer from
the period of Peter the Great is based on the same principle as the previous one: the deacon recites the names and tides of
those dedicated followed by the choir wishing Many years.
Song of penitence for Russia. Music by P. Tchaikovsky, arr. for choir by K. Grozdov
P. I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was inspired by a Russian Church melody in the sixth mode in writing his No. 23, At Church, from
his Children's Album op. 86. Much later, at the beginning of the 20th century, he adapted it for choir using a poetic text based
on Russia's misfortunes in history.
Lord of my days. Words by A. Pushkin, music by A. Grechaninov
Alexander Pushkin made a brilliant poetic adaptation of the Syrian Saint Ephraem's prayer "Lord, master of my life." It is a
prayer of compunction and at the same time an ascetic exercise repeated numerous times during Lent. A. Gretchaninov was one of
the many Russian composers to put these verses to music.
God, save the Tsar. Words by V. Joukovsky music by A. Lvov
A. F. Lvov composed this Russian Imperial hymn on a request by Nicholas I. Even though composed in 1833, the hymn's melody was
used by Tchaikovsky in the concluding section of his 1812 Overture, musical expression taking precedence over historical
How glorious is our Lord in Zion. Words by M. Kheraskov, music by Dm. Bortnjansky
This composition by Dmitri Bortniansky (1751-1825), Lvov's predecessor as head of the Imperial Chapel, is a hymn to the
Creator initially used in Masonic lodges which proliferated in Russia under the reign of Alexander I. This work quickly left
esoteric circles and became, after God, save the Tsar, the second Russian Imperial hymn.
The legend of twelve robbers. Words by N. Nekrasov
The legend of twelve robbers and their leader Koudeyar who left his companions to enter a monastery to atone for his sins was
written in verse by the poet N. Nekrassov. The music is by an anonymous composer whose westernized style is indicated by the
use of three part rhythms never encountered in true Russian folklore.
Oleg the wise. Words by A.Pushkin
A Pushkin was inspired by the almost legendary life of Prince Oleg of Kiev who died bitten by a viper hidden in the head of
his just killed favorite horse. His death had been predicted by a seer. This poem was put to music at the end of the 19th
century and used as a military march as demonstrated by the refrain proclaiming glory to the tsar.