Prayers From The Old Church

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Prayers from the Old Church is a three-movement work for SATB a cappella choir and alto soloist based on prayers from the Russian Orthodox Church. Church-Slavonic texts and their translations are taken from the Old Orthodox Prayer Book, which uses pre-Niconian sources favored by Old Ritualists. The prayers were selected due to their significance to the history of the church and to my own personal experience as an Orthodox Christian.

The three prayers in the piece come from the Canon to Jesus Christ and the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom: the Jesus Prayer, the Cherubic Hymn, and the Lord’s Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is based on a Valaam chant, a chant style that developed in the monastery on Valaam in Russian Karelia. The Cherubic Hymn is longer, and more technically demanding, than the outer two movements; it can be parsed into two large sections: the first of more somber quality than the second, set mostly homophonically in four parts, as is traditional for settings of this prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is set wholly in the Ukrainian language, and opens with the choir singing in true unison sotto voce to evoke themes of simplicity, unity, and peace.