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.

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.)

Attribution(s): Study for ‘The Judas Kiss’” by Gustave Doré. Provided by Walters Art Museum (Home, Info), and licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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