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     The conversion of Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavovich to Christianity in 988 is considered as the official date of the baptism of Russia.  In the 11th century Saint Anthony served the same purpose for Russian people that Moses served for the Jews.  He left for Greece to adopt Christianity and bring it to medieval Russia.  He also founded the first Russian monastery known as Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra.  Saint Anthony dug the first caves.  He healed people, made prophesies and taught the Word of God.  Soon many joined him.
    At that time all monks lived underground in caves.  Saint Anthony met the Holy Virgin in his prayers and She gave him gold to pay Greek architects for building the first church. During his prayers, St. Anthony did not leave the caves.  When the architects arrived in Kiev, they told that St. Anthony had appeared before them in Constantinople and paid in advance.  After the church was completed, the Greek builders died the same day.  They were canonized and today, after 1000 years, you may see their mummies displayed in the caves of the monastery.  The cloister grew rapidly and became a center of Russian Orthodox religion, education and culture.  The architectural ensemble of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra makes a great impression.  On sunny days, the gold of the domes blinds the eyes.
    The name Pecherskaya came from the word "peshera" (cave) and Lavra is a name usually given to big and significant monasteries.
    This album introduces rare, first published hymns of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra.  The origin of these hymns is different, but all of them have been in use at this monastery during a long period of time.  The roots of this music stretch back to the 11th century.  At the same time, some chants in this program were arranged and four of them were composed for four-part choir by Archbishop Jonathan in the 20th century.  Listening to these hymns we should remember, that four-part church singing in Russia was not common before 1551, when Tsar Ivan the Terrible suggested the Synod introduced it to all the churches in Moscow.  The Russian Orthodox Church music always remained scored for choir a cappella.

    Kiev Choir "Blagovest" selects its repertoire by prioritizing the heritage of Slavic Christian Music.  Victor Skoromny is the conductor and artistic director.
    The recording was made in Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra in 1995.

2003 Evgeni Kostitsyn


The Traditional and New Hymns of the Russian Orthodox Church

Arrangements of Church Hymns ~ Archbishop Jonathan

1. O HOLY GOD - 3:31
    Divine Liturgy hymn.  Simple melody.
2. GOD IS WITH US - 4:54
    Divine Liturgy hymn. Valaam melody.
3. BEHOLD THE HEAVENLY POWERS - 4:15
    Divine Liturgy hymn. Valaam melody.
4. REPENTANCE - 8:23
    Hymn of the Lent. Kiev melody.
5. STEPENNA. IN TONE 5 - 2:48
    Znamenny melody.
6. RECEIVE THE BODY OF CHRIST - 3:20
    Divine Liturgy hymn. Znamenny melody.
7. MEET IT IN TRUTH TO BLESS THEE - 2:31
    Divine Liturgy hymn. The traditional melody
    of Galicia.
8. PRAYER OF ST. SIMEON - 1:42
    Simple melody.
9. HYMN OF CHERUBIMS - 3:37
    Divine Liturgy hymn. Archbishop Jonathan.
10. SONG OF THE ALL-HOLY BIRTH-GIVER - 7:53
      Archbishop Jonathan.
11. YOUR PALACE - 2:41
      Hymn of the Lent. Archbishop Jonathan.
12. STEPENNA. IN TONE 4 - 2:20
      Znamenny melody.
13. STEPENNA. IN TONE 6 - 3:53
      Kiev melody.
14. STICHIRA OF THE GREAT FRIDAY - 4:24
      Kievo-Pechersk melody.
15. EXAPOSTEILARION OF THE HOLY
      EASTER SUNDAY - 2:21
      Kiev melody.
16. TROPARION OF THE TRANSFIGURATION
      OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST - 1:54
      Znamenny melody.
17. TROPARION OF THE HOLY EASTER SUNDAY - 1:31
      Kiev melody.
18. PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD - 3:30
      Psalm 135(134)
      Valaam melody.
19. OUR FATHER - 3:15
      Archbishop Jonathan.

Total time - 69:01

Kiev Chorus "Blagovest"
Conductor - Victor Skoromny

Sound engineers: Kouryj and Gerasimenko.
Recorded in Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra in 1995.

Cover painting "Trinity" by an unknown artist
Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn