Russian Divine Liturgy
Church music is a significant and extensive part of Russian national
culture. The history of its appearance, its life and development, embraces many
centuries, beginning with the introduction of Christianity up to the present
time. In particular there was a remarkable flourishing of Russian church music
at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first twenty years of the next
century. It was a period when many talented and widely known composers renewed
and enriched church repertoire. The present recording offers the music from the
Russian Divine Liturgy, celebrated by a Bishop.
1. Meeting and Vesting of the Bishop (L'vov)
When the Bishop enters the church, all the clergy, bearing crosses and a
censer, meet him. They then vest the Bishop and he starts the Entrance Prayers,
bowing to the holy icons of Our Saviour and of Theotokos, the Blessed Virgin.
The Bishop blesses the people and moves forward to his place in the centre of
the church. Here the clergy remove the Bishop's outer vestment, leaving him
dressed in a simple robe, to remind people of Our Saviour, who came to earth in
humble simplicity. Then they start vesting the Bishop in his liturgical robes.
From the Rising of the Sun
From the rising to the setting of the Sun, the name of Lord is to be
Blessed be the name of the Lord, henceforth, and for evermore!
The Hymn to the Theotokos
It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos,
ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of Our God.
More honorable than the Cherubim
And more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim,
Without defilement you gave birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify you.
Your Soul Shall Rejoice
Your Soul shall rejoice in the Lord,
For He has clothed you with the garment of salvation;
And with the robe of gladness has He encompassed you:
As a bridegroom He has set a crown on you;
And as a bride, He has adorned you with arrayment.
2. Eis polla eti, Despota (L'vov)
Eis polla eti, Despota (Many years to you, Master) is an Old-Greek prayer for
the Bishop. The choir sings the prayer when the Bishop blesses the people,
turning to the four sides with the two special candlesticks, and the people bow
3. Great Litany
Litanies consist of a
series of invocations and supplications, chanted by the deacon, to which the
choir sings the refrain in response, Lord have mercy. This litany asks
God for peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, for the peace of
the whole world and for the welfare of the Holy Church where the Divine Liturgy
is being celebrated, for our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and
necessity. We also pray to God for our Patriarch, now Alexis II, Holy Patriarch
of Moscow and of All Russia. We also ask Our Lady, the Mother of God and
ever-virgin Mary, to help us, protect us and pray for us before God.
4. The First Antiphon:
Psalm CII (Znamennïy chant)
Bless the Lord, O
my soul is based on Psalm CII.
The choir sings it to the znamennïy chant. In this psalm the people of God are
taught to praise Him for His great benevolence, which is proclaimed by Christ's
banishing of sin and by the glory of His Resurrection.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Blessed art thou, O Lord!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
And all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
And forget not all His benefits!
Who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases!
The Lord is compassionate
and merciful, long-suffering and of great goodness!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Blessed art thou, O Lord!
5. The Only-begotten
The Greek Emperor
Justinian wrote the text of The Only-begotten Son in the sixth century.
Although it is rather short, it nevertheless summarises the central dogma of
Only-begotten Son and immortal word of God,
who for our salvation
didst will to be incarnate of the Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary,
who without change didst become man
and wast crucified,
who art one of the Holy Trinity,
glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
O Christ Our God,
trampling down death by death, Save us!
Come, let us
worship is the Entrance Hymn
that is heard during the Little Entrance, as the Holy Gospel is brought from
the altar and the clergy come back into the sanctuary through the Royal Doors.
7. The Trisagion
The Trisagion calls
people to repent of their sins and ask God for mercy. It is also called the
Song of Angels because invisible angels are singing it together with the people
in the church.
Holy God! Holy mighty! Holy immortal! Have mercy on us! (Repeated three times)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever and from age to age, Amen.
Holy immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God! Holy mighty! Holy immortal! Have mercy on us!
The Prokeimenon is
a verse taken from the Psalms. It is chanted before the reading of the Epistle.
After the Epistle the
reader chants the two Alleluia verses. After each one the choir repeats the
Alleluia and the deacon censes.
10. Cherubic Hymn
The choir sings the Cherubic
Hymn also known as the Great Entrance Hymn, during the Great
Entrance. The Bishop carries the chalice and paten with the holy gifts of wine
and bread. Preceded by the clergy he makes the Great Entrance, bringing our
gifts to the altar. During the Entrance he prays for all members of the Church.
Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim,
and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-Creating Trinity,
now lay aside all earthly cares.
That we may receive the King of All,
who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts.
11. The Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed was
adopted at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and expanded at the Council of
Constantinople in A.D. 381. It is used at baptisms, in the Divine Liturgy and
in daily personal prayers.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;
and in one Lord Jesus Christ
the Son of God, the Only-Begotten,
begotten of the Father before all worlds,
light of light, very God of very God,
begotten not made, of one essence
with the Father, by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our
salvation came down from Heaven
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and
the Virgin Mary and was made man;
and was crucified also for us
under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
the third day He
rose again, according to the scriptures,
and ascended into Heaven, and sits
at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again with glory to judge
the living and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
12. A mercy of peace!
A sacrifice of praise! (arr. Archimandrite Matthew)
A Mercy of Peace is a prayer that is the most important part of
the Divine Liturgy because it is heard during the Eucharist, when bread on the
paten is transformed into the Body of Christ and wine in the chalice into the
Blood of Christ. This sacrament, which only faith can comprehend, is so
important that some Holy Fathers say that Earth will exist as long as at least
one Divine Liturgy is celebrated there.
13. The Hymn to the
After the Eucharist
the choir sings the Hymn to the Holy Virgin It is truly meet to bless you, O
Theotokos… remembering her important role in the mystery of the incarnation
of Jesus Christ.
It is truly meet to
bless you, O Theotokos,
most pure, and the Mother of Our God.
More honorable than
and more glorious
beyond compare than the Seraphim;
you gave birth to God the Word;
true Theotokos, we
14. The Communion Verse (Ledkovsky)
The choir sings this Communion Verse on Sunday.
Praise the Lord
from the Heavens!
Praise him in the
15. Psalm CXX (Mironisitsky)
The soul praises God as The Saviour and asks the Lord to preserve him
from all evil.
I will lift up my
eyes to the hills,
from whence comes
My help comes from
who made Heaven and
16. The Hymns after Communion (Arkhangel'sky)
The Royal Doors are opened. The Priest takes the chalice and offers
Communion to those who are prepared to receive the Mystery. The choir sings Blessed
is He that comes… After the Communion the choir sings the sticheron of
Pentecost: We have seen the true Light…, which summarises the central
meaning of the Communion. The Priest takes once more the chalice in his right
hand and says as he faces the people: Blessed is our God After that the
choir sings the Hymn of Thanksgiving Let our mouths be filled with Thy
Blessed is He that
in the name of the
God is the Lord
and has revealed
Himself to u,!
We have seen the
We, have received
the heavenly Spirit!
We have found the
who has saved us.
Blessed is our God
Always, now and
ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Let our mouths be
filled with Thy praise, O Lord,
that we may sing of
for Thou hast made
us worthy to partake
of Thy holy, divine
immortal, and life-creating Mysteries.
Keep us in Thy
that all the day we
may meditate upon Thy righteousness.
17. Great Doxology (Strumsky)
The Great Doxology is
part of Great Matins. It proclaims the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus
Christ to the whole world. Christians thank God for His sacrifice and ask Him
to forgive their sins and to accept their prayer.
Glory to God in the
highest, and on earth peace,
good will towards
We praise Thee! We
We worship Thee! We
Monastery Male Choir
A winner of the
International Choir Competitions in Hungary in 1991 and in Poland in 1994, the
Novospassky Monastery Choir has aroused great admiration in its public
appearances at home and abroad. The eighteen professional singers are led by
Igumen Mitrofan, who has developed and brought the choir to its high artistic
level, directing the choir outside its monastic setting in concerts abroad that
introduce audiences to the fine tradition of music of the Russian Orthodox
Church. The choir performs regularly during official ceremonies at the
Patriarch's Residence and has appeared at the White House and the Kremlin. The
repertoire of the choir ranges from early monastic music to sacred compositions
of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
fifteenth century fortified monastery, with an eighteenth century bell-tower
and other more recent additions, and among the oldest church structures in
Moscow, the Novospassky Monastery was founded on the site of the Kremlin, later
moved to a hill by the Moskva river providing it with the name 'Novospassky' (Saviour
on a New Place – The New Saviour). The Monastery has hosted Russian princes,
Tsars and their families. From the earliest days of the Romanov dynasty, a
special sepulchre housed the Romanovs and their ancestors. Performing many
functions, it served as a fort, was used by the Communists as a concentration
camp, a prison for women, and later housed KGB archives. In 1991 the Monastery
was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.