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Cherubika: The Hymn of the Great Entrance
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1. Cherubic Hymn: Znamenny Chant
2. Cherubic Hymn: Georgian Chant
3. Cherubic Hymn: Serbian Chant
4. Of Thy Mystic Supper: Znamenny Chant
5. Cherubic Hymn: Russian Chant
6. Cherubic Hymn: Znamenny Chant
7. Cherubic Hymn: Znamenny Chant, Tone 5
8. Cherubic Hymn: Serbian Chant, Tone 1
9. Now the Powers: Bulgarian Chant
10. Let All Mortal Flesh: Russian Valaam Chant
11. Cherubic Hymn: Romanian chant, Tone 8
Cherubika is a new ensemble of Orthodox singers specializing in znamenny and chant-based liturgical music in the "Russian" genre. Their self-titled debut album (sub-titled "Hymn of the Great Entrance: Chant of the Eastern Orthodox Church") is a stunning collection of eleven Cherubic Hymns (and their three substitutes: ?Now the Powers,? ?Of Thy Mystical Supper,? and ?Let All Mortal Flesh?). This hymn, central in the Orthodox Liturgy, is sung slowly and meditatively, ushering the listeners into a sacred space where we are surrounded by angels, awaiting the coming of Christ into our midst. Bulgarian, Georgian, Serbian, Znamenny and Romanian traditions are all represented. There are several ancient melodies used as well as a few more recent compositions, and all carry a signature connection to older chant-based systems of Orthodox hymnody. In this respect, they are closer to the rich Byzantine chant tradition than they are to later forms of Russian liturgical singing based on large choral arrangements. Good liner notes in English with hymn text, and contains information on the historical development of each melody and a wonderful essay by Dr. Dimitri Conomos on the Cherubic Hymn and its substitutes, excerpted from his doctoral dissertation of 1974 on the Byzantine Trisiagia and Cherubika of the 14th?15th Centuries.
Cherubika started as a group of Orthodox chanters who share a love of the earlier chant repertoire and a joy in singing liturgically. They have all been inspired by, Fr. Lawrence Margitich, and all the work he has done to bring znamenny chant to English speakers. In terms of performance, they have a resonant, glowing sound and strike the delicate balance of musical excellence and soulful chant infused with prayer. On top of that, the immediate impact of listening is that you have just encountered excellence! The performance is glorious: the voices are terrific, the harmonies wonderful, the recording and engineering clear and crisp, and the hymn selections while varied (different versions of the Cherubic Hymn and other complimentary hymns) work together as an organic whole. The arrangements are top notch and some of the hymns probably have never been heard before in English renditions--specifically, for instance, the tenor solo in the Serbian Chant version of the Cherubic Hymn by Nicholas the Serb (13th C.). It might well move you to tears!
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