Chesnokov’s “Let My Prayer Arise!”

Da ispravitsya molitva moya, yako kadilo pred Toboyu:
vozdeyanie ruku moeyu, zhertva vechernyaya.
Gospodi, vozzvakh k Tebe, uslïshi mya:
vonmi glasu moleniya moyego, vnegda vozzvati mi k Tebe.
Polozhi, Gospodi, khranenie ustom moim:
i dver ograzhdeniya o ustnakh moikh.
Ne ukloni serdtse moe v slovesa lukavstviya:
nepshchevati vinï o gresekh.

TRANSLATION: Let my prayer arise in thy sight as incense;
and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.
Lord, I call upon thee, hear me;
receive the voice of my prayer, when I call upon thee.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth,
and keep watch over the door of my lips.
Incline not my heart to evil words,
nor to make excuses for sins.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve written of my great love for the Russian sacred composer Pavel Chesnokov a number of times in the past, so I’ll jump at any opportunity to bring him up once again. But this piece is particularly fitting today, as detailed here by Saturday Chorale:

Da ispravitsya molitva moya is his setting of the Psalm verses appointed for the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts. (This is the service that takes place on Wednesday of Holy Week in which a large number of Hosts – Communion wafers called “Lambs” – are consecrated and reserved for distribution during services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.) Many people consider it to be one of Chesnokov’s best works and I’m no exception; it’s a piece of music I love and that I listen to every year during Holy Week.

I think I’ve just discovered a new Spy Wednesday tradition!

That performance, courtesy of  the Moscow Boys Choir, is not the sort of sound I usually associate with Chesnokov, but the clarity and fragility of the youthful soloist’s voice was incredibly moving. As was the blank blackness of the clip, in a strange way. Very Lenten. (A more “Profundo” version can be heard here.)

Study for “The Judas Kiss,” by Gustave Doré

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • Agnes

    This is absolutely beautiful. The juxtaposition of the low and high notes is like nothing I’ve heard before.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat Joseph Susanka

      Absolutely, Agnes. That’s why I picked the Boys’ Choir version. I’ve been familiar with the “Kovcheg” version for a while, and love it. But the juxtaposition, as you note, is what makes this one melt…


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X