Mixed Chorus

Chesnokov’s arrangement of the Sofronievskaya Cherubic Hymn

Many composers have harmonized the famous Sofroniev hermitage chant melody for the Cherubic Hymn. In America at any rate, the Kastalsky arrangement is most commonly performed, but Pavel Chesnokov’s harmonization is every bit as deserving of performance.

In the original, the music is set in free rhythm, without barlines except those denoting the ends of phrases. For ease of performance, I have added barlines and an editorial time signature of 4/2 (though at the ends of many phrases there is a 2/2 measure).

Masliev and Kalintsev’s “Do Not Lament Me”

“Do Not Lament Me, O Mother” is appointed to be sung at the Divine Liturgy on Great and Holy Saturday (the same text appears in the Canon at Matins of the Lamentations). I haven't been able to unearth any information on this particular setting or its composers, but it's my impression that it’s a contemporary composition. You can hear a church choir in Russia singing it in Slavonic in this YouTube video.

Beatitudes by Kozlovsky

This setting of the Beatitudes by Protodeacon Pyotr Kozlovsky (a contemporary Russian composer) was originally for male chorus, but by pitching it up a fourth I have made it suitable for mixed chorus instead.

Cherubic Hymn by Mirko Kolarić

Mirko Kolarić was a Croatian composer (born near the present-day borders with Slovenia and Hungary) of the early twentieth century. He was a Roman Catholic, and composed both Roman masses and Byzantine Catholic liturgical music. He narrowly escaped the Bleiburg massacre, but on returning home was brutally murdered by an acquaintance at the age of 35. As a result, he had not yet composed a large corpus of work, and he faded into obscurity.

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.

Azeyev’s Cherubic Hymn

There exist several editions of this piece in English. My church choir had a particularly bad nth-generation photocopy of a handwritten/typewritten score, so I created this cleaned-up version which will hopefully be easier to sight-read.

Binički’s Cherubic Hymn

While Stevan Mokranjac is the best-known Serbian composer of sacred works, Stanislav Binički is better known in secular circles as Serbia’s foremost composer. He composed the first opera in Serbo-Croat, and also wrote the “Marš na Drinu” (March to the Drina) to commemorate a Serbian victory against the armies of the Habsburgs in 1914. However, he also composed a few sacred pieces, such as this Cherubic Hymn presented here in English.

That old chestnut, the Bortniansky № 5

Bortniansky is famous for two Cherubic Hymns. No. 7 is rightly famous for its ethereal qualities; there exist many professional recordings. The No. 5, on the other hand, is rarely recorded, but is widely used by small church choirs due to its ease of performance. Unfortunately, unless very sensitively handled, the Bortniansky No. 5 can come across as a choral waltz.

Bortniansky’s “It Is Truly Meet”

Dmitri Bortniansky’s setting of “It Is Truly Meet” has been a perennial favorite, but setting it in any language other than the original Slavonic has been troublesome, because the music is so closely married to the textual structure. I’ve sung English-language versions of this that made, shall we say, creative translations to work with the music, and I've sung versions that hacked the music to death to wedge an ill-fitting existing translation in. Here, I’ve tried to strike a balance, using the standard OCA translation and trying to keep phraseological repetitions to a minimum.

It Is Truly Meet – Byzantine Paraklesis Melody

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.