Vespers

“Blessed is the Man” from Nikolsky’s all-night vigil

Aleksandr Nikolsky’s “Chants from the All-Night Vigil” is one of those treasures that almost nobody outside of the Russian liturgical music world has heard of. If you search on YouTube you can find a full recording of the piece, and a bit of Googling digs up a scan of the original 19th-century St. Petersburg publication in Slavonic.

“Bless the Lord, O My Soul” in Spanish

Father Guillermo Jünemann Beckschäfer was a German Roman Catholic priest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In his youth his family moved to Chile, and he grew up surrounded by Spanish literature. He spent much of his life creating new Spanish translations of the scriptures. He produced a translation of the Old Testament from the Greek Septuagint, which was panned by the Roman Catholic church, as some of its translational choices conflicted with the Vulgate. This Old Testament was not published in his lifetime, but received a posthumous publication in 1993.

Kastalsky’s “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” for male chorus

Many composers have made arrangements of various chant melodies for “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”, which is made up of selected verses of the introductory psalm from Vespers. The most common chant melody in the Russian tradition is the “Greek Chant” melody. Aleksandr Kastalsky made several different arrangements of this melody. The version presented here (in the original Slavonic) is for male chorus; it was recorded in 2008 by the St. John of San Francisco Men’s Chorale.