Cherubic Hymns


While I’ve heard the Cherubic Hymn sung so badly it brought tears to my eyes, usually this is one of the most beautiful parts of the Divine Liturgy. (The key is not to sing something incompatible with the number of choir members, distribution of members among parts, or group ability and experience. A simple arrangement sung carefully is beautiful; a complicated arrangement sung badly, however…)

I don’t know how many settings there are out there. Scores and scores. Periodically I come across one I haven’t heard before and am blown away by its beauty. 

Note for the non-Orthodox: the Cherubic Hymn is sung bracketing the great entrance when the priest leaves the north deacon’s door holding the veiled Gifts and processes (differently, according to local tradition) around to the royal doors for the offering. The words are referring to those sung by the cherubim:

Let us who mystically represent the cherubim and sing the Thrice-holy Hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares. [great entrance] Amen. That we may receive the King of all who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts. Alleluia.

Georgian chant, sung by the parish choir of St. Symeon the New Theologian Orthodox Church in Birmingham, AL.

This is an absolutely gorgeous setting in Russian. I don’t know the original composer, only that it’s in Znamenny chant.

This setting by Lvovsky is also in Russian and sung by a male choir (Valaam). This is in our repertoire at our parish (sung by a mixed choir, of course).

The Bortniansky #7 setting should only be attempted if you have a good soprano section. They hold all the cards here and have the power to transport you to heaven, or… somewhere else. (Note: my two soprano daughters can pull this one off. Amazing.)

The Bortniansky #6 isn’t as showy as #7, but it’s quite peaceful and lovely.

Of course I shared this yesterday, so I will change recordings. This is the setting by A. Katorsky, sung by the Sretensky Monastery choir:

There’s one setting I love that I can’t find a single recording of online: the “Elizabethian” setting. My daughters and I decided to remedy the situation and recorded our own attempt and put it on YouTube. It’s hardly professional and since we had to hurry to record it during nap time we had to leave it “as is”. But now there’s a recording. 🙂

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