Nikolai Golovanov was reaching his prime as a liturgical composer right about the time of the Bolshevik revolution, so his output unfortunately switched from liturgical to folk-music arrangements. Fortunately, he left behind enough of a body of work that we can appreciate his genius. One such work is presented here, as arranged for male chorus: his setting of the Cherubic Hymn. It’s full of suspensions and odd deviations into the Dorian mode.
Toward the end of the service of the Lesser Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God (the Paraklesis service), “It is truly meet” is appointed to be sung. As it directly precedes the Megalynaria, it is sung to a very similar melody, in the plagal of the fourth tone (called the eighth tone in Slavic circles). I’ve harmonized this melody and set it in English. There’s no particular reason why this melody couldn’t be used in the context of the Divine Liturgy as well.
This is one of my own compositions dating from sometime around 2004 or so. Certain Ukrainians have told me it sounds Ukrainian.
Many thanks to Kevin Lawrence for editorial advice.
This is a composition of mine from around 2006 or so. It is a SSA trio of the exaposteilarion of Great and Holy Friday, in the Slavonic style, and using a translation from the Slavonic rather than the Greek (the Slavonic version interposes the word “wise,” for example). The hymn is appointed to be sung three times. Since the 19th century, it has been a common Russian practice that at least one of these repetitions should be done as a trio, hence the present version.
I’ve never heard of any parish actually performing this piece liturgically.
Viktor Kalinnikov’s Cherubic Hymn is widely available scored for mixed chorus. In the canonical version, the sopranos and altos join in unison with the first tenors for the first half, and then full parts break out in the second half. However, handwritten versions have been floating about which turn this hymn into a pure male chorus score. I’ve digitized and edited one such version here.
Alongside the Slavonic original of Kastalsky’s male chorus setting of "Bless the Lord, O my soul," I here present an English setting.
I found this setting of the Cherubic Hymn on Boris Tarakanov’s Russian Sacred Music page. Unfortunately, it was a low-quality scan of a very hastily-scribbled manuscript. It had only two dynamic markings which seemed rather arbitrarily chosen, and no tempo markings. Additionally, it had several errors which led to horrible-sounding passages.
The Nilov monastery was founded in the 16th century on an island in Lake Seliger, northwest of Moscow. Over time the brethren there developed their own chant variants. This setting for male chorus probably dates from the mid to late nineteenth century.
In 1893, Stepan Smolensky published an edition of the Divine Liturgy for male choir, including this setting of a traditional chant melody for the hymn “All of creation rejoiceth in thee,” which is sung in honor of the Mother of God at the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (a service most commonly served on Sundays during Great Lent). It is presented here in an English translation.
The default setting of the Exaposteilarion of Great and Holy Friday for those in the Russian tradition seems to be one of the Kievan chant settings, so why am I adding my voice to the din? Well, for years I have thought about composing a full-choir companion setting to my own treble-trio version. Then a couple weeks ago I realized that in fact the Kievan chant setting would work just fine with it.