Johann von Gardner’s Beatitudes

Johann von Gardner was a prominent Russian Orthodox musicologist of the twentieth century. Among other works, he published the two-volume scholarly opus Russian Church Singing, which explores the structure of Russian liturgical services and outlines the history of Russian church music from the time of the conversion of Rus’ in the eleventh century until the beginning of the Romanov dynasty in the early 17th century, when more Italianate musical forms emerged under the influence of Tsar Peter the Great and his successors.

Von Gardner lived much of his life in exile from the Soviet Union. Though his birth name was Ivan Alekseyevich Gardner (he was descended from a Scotsman who had been granted a Crimean estate for service to the Tsar — not an unusual arrangement), he published most of his scholarly works in German, and this is why he is known by the more German form of his name.

Von Gardner heavily favored liturgical music drawing from the wellspring of early Russian chant forms, especially Znamenny chant. In his own works he did not entirely eschew four-part harmony, but he strove to maintain chant motifs as the central building block of his compositions. In this setting of the Beatitudes, presented in English, the chant line is most often carried in the alto part, but is also traded among the other parts as well.

Voicing
Language
Liturgical Use