Presanctified Liturgy

These twenty-five verses, composed by Symeon the Translator, are appointed to be sung at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on the evening of the Wednesday of the fifth week of Great Lent. This is as a prelude to the matins of the fifth Thursday, which contains the entirety of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.

Count Aleksandr Sheremetev was a musical amateur and lover of the arts from a wealthy musical family. He brought Wagner’s “Parsifal” to Russia and personally conducted its St. Petersburg premiere. He also composed a number of choral liturgical works.

Nowadays his setting of “Now the Powers of Heaven” is best known as a male-chorus piece, but the original seems to have been scored for mixed chorus. I have adapted it into English.

According to some Byzantine local traditions, “Let my prayer arise” is to be sung in the fifth tone at all Wednesday and Friday Presanctified liturgies, but in the sixth tone in the first week, during Great Week, and anytime the Presanctified is served for a ranking commemoration. This harmonization is loosely based on the tone 6 version in the Greek chantbooks. The verses would be intoned either by the priest or by a chanter, with the full choir responding with the refrain.