Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Rachmaninoff)

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St. John Chrysostom, Icon by Dionisius

Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op. 31 (Russian: Литургия Иоанна Златоуста), is a musical work by Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of his two major unaccompanied choral works (the other being his All-Night Vigil). The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the primary worship service of the Eastern Orthodox Church.[1]


Rachmaninoff composed the work in July, 1910 at his summer estate Ivanovka, following his American tour of 1909. Writing to his friend Nikita Morozov, Rachmaninoff said of the work, "I have been thinking about the Liturgy for a long time and for a long time I strove to write it. I started to work on it somehow by chance and then suddenly became fascinated with it. And then I finished it very quickly. Not for a long time have I written anything with such pleasure."[2]

The work premiered November 25, 1910 in Moscow. Russian Orthodox ecclesiastical authorities strongly objected to the work's "spirit of modernism" and refused to sanction it for use during church services.[2] Rachmaninoff did nothing to promote the work himself, and it soon fell into obscurity.

A portion of the Liturgy was given in concert performance in New York on January 24, 1914 by the male choir of the Russian Cathedral of St. Nicholas, conducted by Ivan Gorokhov.[3]

A new edition, reconstructed from surviving part books at an Orthodox monastery in the U.S. and microfilm at the U.S. Library of Congress, was published by Anthony Antolini in 1988. This reconstruction was the subject of a PBS documentary entitled "Rediscovering Rachmaninoff", produced by KTEH television in San Jose, California.[3]


The Liturgy consists of twenty movements for unaccompanied mixed choir. Three contain solo passages: Movement 2 (Blagoslovi, dushe moia, Ghospoda/Bless the Lord, O my soul) for alto, Movement 10 (Veruiu/The Nicene Creed) for Bass, and Movement 12 (Tebie poiem/To Thee we sing), for treble or soprano. Two (Movements 14 and 19) are scored for double choir.

The twenty movements are these: [4]

Church Slavonic Transliterated English
1 Великая ектения Velikaya ekteniya The Great Litany
2 Благослови, душе моя, Господа Blagoslovi, dushe moya, Gospoda The First Antiphon: Bless the Lord, О My Soul
3 Слава отцу - единородный Сыне Slava otsu - edinorodnyy Syne The Second Antiphon: Glory Be to the Father - Only-Begotten Son
4 Во царствие Твоем Vo tsarstvie Tvoem The Third Antiphon: In Your Kingdom
5 Приидите, поклонимся Priidite, poklonimsya The Little Entrance: Come, Let Us Worship
6 Господи, спаси благочестивыя Gospodi, spasi blagochestivyya Trisagion: Lord, We Pray That You May Be Merciful
7 Сугубая ектения Sugubaya ekteniya The Augmented Litany
8 Херувимская песнь Kherubimskaya pesn' Cherubic Hymn
9 Просительная ектения Prositel'naya ekteniya The Litany of Supplication
10 Символ веры: верую Simvol very: veruyu Credo
11 Милость мира Milost' mira The Eucharistic Prayer: A Mercy Of Peace
12 Тебе поем Tebe poem We Praise Thee
13 Достойно есть Dostoyno est' Hymn to the Mother of God: It Is Truly Meet
14 Отче наш Otche nash The Lord's Prayer: Our Father
15 Един свят Edin svyat One Is Holy
16 Хвалите Господа с небес Khvalite Gospoda s nebes Communion Hymn: Praise the Lord From The Heavens
17 Благословен граду - Видихом свет Blagosloven gradu - Vidikhom svet Blessed Is He - We Have Seen the Light
18 Да исполнятся уста наша Da ispolnyatsya usta nasha Hymn Of Praise: Let Our Mouths Be Filled
19 Буди имя Господне Budi imya Gospodne Blessed Be the Name of the Lord
20 Отпущение Otpushchenie Dismissal


Year Conductor Choir Soloists Label
1982 Karl Linke Johannes-Damascenus-Chor für ostkirchliche Liturgie, Essen P. Ludwig Pichler, SJ (Priest)
Erwin Lohneisen (Deacon)
Lucian Lamka (Lector)
Christophorus Records
1988 Vladimir Minin Moscow Chamber Choir Мелодия (Melodiya)
1993 Nikolai Korniev St. Petersburg Chamber Choir Philips
1993 Valery Polyansky Russian State Symphony Cappella Choir Claves
1994 Matthew Best Corydon Singers Peter Scorer (Deacon) Hyperion
2002 Olga Stupneva The Rozhdestvo Choir of Solo Singers of St.Petersburg Philharmonic Society Irina Mihalkina
Zoe Tsererina
Stanislav Leontiev (tenor)
Vitaly Zolatorev
Leonid Gladkov
2004 Stephen Cleobury Choir of King's College, Cambridge Peter Scorer (Deacon)
Tobias Sims
EMI Classics
2010 Laurence Equilbey Accentus & Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
Eva Ericson Berglund (Soprano)
Vladimir Miller (Basso Profundo)
Naive Classique (Indigo)
2011 Vladislav Chernushenko St. Petersburg State Capella Choir Ekatarina Savatskaya (soprano),
Egor Semenkov (tenor, Priest),
Oleg Radchenko (baritone),
Vladimir Miller (basso profundo, Deacon)
2015 Nicolas Fink Rundfunkchor Berlin Clarus

See also


  1. ^ George, Mastrantonis. "Introduction to the Divine Liturgy". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  2. ^ a b Moody, Ivan (1994). "SERGEI RACHMANINOV The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op 31". Liner notes. Hyperion Records, Ltd. Retrieved 2009-07-08.  Note: Liner notes PDF file is only accessible by first going to the Hyperion website, then clicking the View sleeve notes/artwork (PDF) link
  3. ^ a b "Concert to mark Metropolitan Methodios' 25th anniversary to the Episcopacy". Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston. 2007-01-10. Archived from the original on 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  4. ^ "The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op 31". Hyperion Records, Ltd. 
  5. ^ This recording contains only extracts from Rachmaninoff's St. John Chysostom and from his All-Night Vigil.

External links

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