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Transfiguration Cathedral, St Petersburg (archive recording from August 2003)

Archive recording from 2003 of Orthodox Vespers from the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, St Petersburg.

Archive recording from 2003 for the Feast of the Transfiguration from the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, St Petersburg, Russia, in the 300th anniversary year of the city's founding. The service is led by the Archpriest, Father Boris Glebov, and the Cathedral Choir directed by Vladimir Lvov sings music by Allemanov, Smolensky, Burmatin, Tretyakov, Zakharov and Tchesnokov. The Gospel for the day is Luke 9: 28-36. Father Vladimir Fyodorov gives the homily and the commentator is Canon Michael Bourdeaux.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Dmitry Vasil'yevich Allemanov

    Verses (with refrains) from Psalm 104

    Choir: Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
  • Trad.

    Lord, I have cried - Psalm 141, verses 1 - 2

    Choir: Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
  • Trad.

    Song of Symeon

    Choir: Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
  • Pavel Grigorevich Chesnokov

    Polyelei

    Choir: Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
  • Trad.

    Prokeimenon of the Transfiguration

    Choir: Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
  • Pavel Tchesnokov

    Great Doxology

    Choir: Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.

Orthodox Vespers from the Cathedral of the Transfiguration

Orthodox Vespers from the Cathedral of the Transfiguration,
St Petersburg (recorded 2003)
BBC Radio 3 – 2nd & 6th August 2017
 
Bells
Introduction – Canon Michael Bourdeaux
This afternoon the bells ring out to remind us of the freedom of worship the Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed only over the last 15 years.  Earlier – and for seven decades since the Revolution of 1917 – the bells were silent.
Now, to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, I’m in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in central St Petersburg.  We’ve come here because this year marks the tercentenary of its founding by Peter the Great in 1703.  We’re surrounded by the palaces, canals and churches of Russia’s former capital.  There’s been much restoration – but many years of work still lie ahead.  Leningrad – as it then was – suffered bombardment under the German siege in World War II – and neglect by the community when the capital moved to Moscow, after the Revolution.
The Preobrazhensky – Transfiguration Cathedral – where I’m standing is itself a symbol of the history of St Petersburg.  It was built as a regimental church to honour the royal Preobrazhensky Guards when they supported the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, in her bid for power in 1741.  It burned down in 1825, to be replaced by the present imposing structure, square in shape, five massive domes above.  In the 19th century it was little more than a military museum; after 1917 it was closed and fell into disrepair.  Now it’s restored; its choir, under Vladimir Lvov, and its liturgy, led by Archpriest Boris Glebov, attract thousands to share in the beauty of its worship.
Father Boris calls on the congregation to stand.
 
Deacon:  Stand.
Choir:  Lord, give the blessing.
Priest:  Glory to the holy, consubstantial, life-giving and undivided Trinity, always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
 
Choir:  Amen.
Come, let us worship the King, our God.
Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, the King, our God.
Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ himself, the King and our God.
Come, let us worship and fall down before him.
 
 
 
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
Come let us worship and fall down before Christ the King, our God.  The choir now sings verses from Psalm 104 – Praise the Lord, O my soul, with music by Allemanov followed by the Litany of Peace – Gospodi pomilu “Lord have mercy” set by Smolensky.
 
Verses (with refrains) from Psalm 104.  (Music by Allemanov)
 
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Refrain:  Blessed are you, O Lord.
O Lord my God, you have been greatly magnified.
Refrain:  Blessed are you, O Lord.
Waters will stand upon the mountains.
Refrain:  How wonderful are your works, O Lord.
Waters will run between the mountains.
Refrain:  How wonderful are your works, O Lord.
With wisdom you have made them all.
Refrain:  Glory to you, O Lord, who have made all things.
 
Litany of peace (Responses by Smolensky)
Deacon: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For the peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
              Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For our great lord and father, his Holiness Patriarch Alexis, for our lord, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Vladimir, for the honoured order of presbyters, for the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For our country, for our government, and all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
For this city, for every city and country district, and for the faithful who dwell in them, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For favourable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For those who travel by land or water, for the sick, the suffering, for those in captivity, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath and constraint, let us pray to the Lord.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by your grace.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.
 
Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.
Choir:          To you, O Lord.
 
Priest: For to you belong all glory, honour and worship, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
Choir:          Amen.
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
Now follow verses from Psalms 141 and 142 introducing two canticles recounting the events of the Transfiguration.  The music of the first, called “Quiet Light”, is by Burmatin, and the second is set to an ancient Kiev melody.
 
"Lord, I have cried", Tone 4, Kiev melody
(Psalm 141, verses 1 - 2):
Lord, I have cried to you, hear me: hear me, O Lord.   Lord, I have cried to you, hear me. Give heed to the voice of my supplication, when I cry to you.   Hear me, O Lord.
Let my prayer be directed like incense before you:  the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.   Hear me, O Lord.
 
(Psalm 142, verse 10):
Bring my soul out of prison that I may confess your name.
(First Sticheron of the Transfiguration)
Before your Crucifixion, O Lord, the mountain became as heaven, and a cloud spread itself out to form a tent, when you were transfigured, and the Father bore witness to you;  Peter was there, with James and John, who were to be present with you also at the time of your betrayal, so that, having seen your wonders, they should not be afraid at your suffering.   Grant that in peace we may be counted worthy to venerate these your sufferings, through your great mercy.
 
"Gentle Light" (music by Burmatin)
 
Deacon:  Wisdom.  Stand upright.
Choir:  O gentle light of the holy glory of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father, O Jesus Christ.   Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and see the evening light, we hymn as God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   It is right at all times to hymn you with holy voices, Son of God, giver of life:  therefore the world glorifies you.
 
Aposticha, Tone 1, shortened Kiev melody
 
First Sticheron:         
He who of old spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai through symbols, saying, "I am he who is", was transfigured today on Mount Tabor before the disciples;  in his own person he showed them human nature arrayed in the original beauty of the image.   Calling Moses and Elias to be witnesses of this surpassing grace, he made them sharers in his joy, foretelling his glorious death on the Cross and his saving Resurrection. 
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
Next we hear a setting of Symeon’s Song, the Nunc Dimittis, by Tretyakov.  Then comes an anthem of the Transfiguration sung by the clergy:  “You were transfigured on the mountain, Christ God, showing your glory to your disciples.”  The first part of our service concludes with a blessing.
 
Song of Symeon (music by Tretyanov)
Now you let your servant depart in peace, O Master, according to your word;  for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.
 
Troparion of the Transfiguration, Tone 7, common melody
You were transfigured on the mountain, Christ God, showing your glory to your disciples as far as they could bear it.   Let your everlasting light shine also upon us sinners, through the prayers of the Mother of God.   Giver of light, glory to you.
 
Blessed be the name of the Lord.  
 
Blessing.
Choir:          Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore. (3 times)
Priest:         May the blessing of the Lord come upon you, by his grace and love for mankind, always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
Choir:          Amen.
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
At this point, the service of Vespers here in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in St Petersburg moves into Matins with a setting of verses from Psalms 135 and 136 by Tchesnokov.  Then a Deacon censes the icons under the vast central dome where I am standing.  During this, the choir sings of the Glorification of the Transfiguration to music by Matveyev.
 
Polyelei (music by Chesnokov)
 
Psalm 135, verse 1:
Praise the name of the Lord.  Alleluia.   Praise the Lord, his servants.   Alleluia.
Verse 21:
Blessed be the Lord from Zion.   Alleluia.   He who dwells in Jerusalem.   Alleluia.
Psalm 136, verse 1:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.   Alleluia, alleluia.   For his mercy endures for ever.   Alleluia.
Verse 26:
Give thanks to the God of heaven.   Alleluia, alleluia.   For his mercy endures for ever.   Alleluia.
 
 
Velichanie (Magnification) of the Transfiguration, common melody, then music by Mateyev:
We magnify you, O Christ, the Giver of Life, and we venerate the most glorious Transfiguration of your most pure flesh.
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
To prepare us for the Gospel, the Deacon sings a verse from Psalm 89, “Tabor and Hermon will rejoice in your name.”  Then Archpriest Boris Glebov intones the account of the Transfiguration of our Lord from St Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 9, how Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray.
 
Prokeimenon of the Transfiguration
Deacon:       Wisdom.   Let us attend.   Prokeimenon in the Fourth Tone.
(Psalm 89, verse 13)
Tabor and Hermon will rejoice in your name.
Choir:          Tabor and Hermon will rejoice in your name.
Deacon (verse 12);
The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours.
Choir:          Tabor and Hermon will rejoice in your name.
Deacon:       Tabor and Hermon
Choir:          will rejoice in your name.
 
Gospel
Deacon:         And that he will count us worthy to hear the holy Gospel, let us pray to the Lord God.
Choir:          Lord, have mercy.   Lord, have mercy.   Lord, have mercy.
Deacon:         Wisdom.   Stand upright.   Let us listen to the holy Gospel.
Priest:         Peace to all.
Choir:          And to your spirit.
Priest:         The reading is from the holy Gospel according to Luke.
Choir:          Glory to you, O Lord, glory to you.
Deacon:         Let us attend.
 
Priest (Luke 9:28-36):
At that time, Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray.   And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.   And behold, two men talked with him, who were Moses and Elias.   They appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.   Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.   And as they were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here;  let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elias":  not knowing what he said.   As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them;  and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.   And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son, listen to him."   And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.   And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Choir:          Glory to you, O Lord, glory to you.
 
Verse after the Gospel, Tone 6, shortened Kiev melody:
O Saviour, having uncovered a little of the light of your divinity to those who went up with you into the mountain, you made them lovers of your heavenly glory.   Therefore they cried in awe:  "It is good for us to be here."   With them we sing for ever to you, transfigured Saviour Christ.
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
The homily is given by Father Vladimir Fyodorov.  His work in St Petersburg and abroad brings him into contact with many other churches.
 
Homily - Father Vladimir Fyodorov
At the celebration of the Tranfiguration of our Lord, we remember a mysterious event:  a special revelation to the apostles.  On Mount Tabor, they were witnesses of the divine light of the eternal glory that emanated from Christ, when Moses and Elijah spoke to Him of the coming journey to Jerusalem and the crucifixion.
St Peter was so struck by this light that he wanted to remain on the mountain, holding on to this amazing state.  But this was a special revelation, a transfiguration, a witness of the Divine purpose and a prophecy of what was to come.  In the light of Mount Tabor, the apostles – and through them we – have glimpsed the divine nature of creation and its designation as a vessel of God’s grace.
The whole world is called to shine with this divine glory.  Through the apostles we receive the revelation that we are called to be fellow-workers with God in this process of sanctifiying creation.  In the Orthodox tradition, at this festival we consecrate the first fruits of harvest in church – apples, in Russia.  This consecration spreads out into the world around us.  We enhance the glory of God’s Creation by our prayers, our work and our artistic endeavours.  The visible aspect of our liturgy is a foretaste of our participation in God’s act of Salvation.  Such faith not only endues us with optimism, but educates us in our responsibility for the created World.
We live in the city of St Peter, a city which is celebrating its jubilee, and we are filled with special joy at the miracle of the Transfiguration.  We acknowledge too, the miracle of the victory of the faith over atheism, the miracle of the rebirth of religious life in our city, where 86 years ago the revolution took place, which opened the door to state atheism here in Russia.  We must have pure and open hearts.  We are called to glorify both the world which God has created and the Creator himself by our prayers, by following Christ in what we do, in science and technology, in art and the education of future generations, in agriculture and in the building of society.
The Church Fathers said that “in drawing near to the light, the soul itself becomes that light”.  The experience of the Mount of Transfiguration was essential for the apostles.  The Church today remembers that this Light is revealed to us too, and we, as members of the Church, share in that experience of Christ, who is the Light of Truth.  And in the special words of today’s feast we all pray:  “Let your light shine also upon us sinners, through the prayers of the Mother of God.  O Light-giver, Glory to You!”
We dream that the Light of the Transfiguration will illuminate as many people as possible, so that the joy of this feast, the joy of peace and love fills every day of our lives – and that we, citizens of St Petersburg, will be the apostles of this joy.
Amen.
 
Ninth Ode:
Priest, the Refrain:
Magnify, O my soul, the Lord transfigured on Tabor.
Choir, the Hirmos, Znammeny melody:
Your giving birth was undefiled:  God came forth from your womb, so that he might appear on earth wearing flesh, and dwelt among humans.   Therefore, Mother of God, we all magnify you.
 
Great Doxology (music by Tchesnokov):
Priest: Glory to you who have shown us the light.
Choir:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.   We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.  
Lord, king of heaven, God the Father almighty:  Lord, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.   Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us;  you who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.   You who sit on the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.   For you alone are holy, you alone are Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.   Amen.
 
Every day I will bless you, and praise your name for ever, and to the ages of ages.   Grant, Lord, to keep us this day without sin.   Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is your name for evermore.   Amen.
May your mercy, Lord, be upon us, as we have trusted in you.      Blessed are you, Lord, teach me your statutes.   Blessed are you, Lord, teach me your statutes.   Blessed are you, Lord, teach me your statutes.
Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation.   I said:  Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.   Lord, I have run to you for refuge;  teach me to do your will, for you are my God.   For with you is the source of life, and in your light we shall see light.   Continue your mercy towards those who know you.
Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Both now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
 
Michael Bourdeaux:
“Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.”  The choir has sung the Great Doxology to music by Tchesnokov.  And to end the service Archpriest Boris gives the blessing.  “May he who was transfigured in glory on Mount Tabor have mercy on us and save us, for he is good and the lover of mankind.”  And finally, the choir prays for His Holiness Alexis, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and the Most Reverend Vladimir, Metropolitan of St Petersburg, all in authority and all Orthodox Christians:  O Lord preserve them for many years.
And so we leave the Cathedral of the Transfiguration on this Feast of the Transfiguration as St Petersburg continues to celebrate 300 years since its foundation.
 
Dismissal
Deacon: Wisdom.
Choir:  Give the blessing.
Priest: Blessed be he who is, Christ our God, always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
Choir:  Amen.   Strengthen, O God, the holy Orthodox faith of Orthodox Christians to the ages of ages.
Priest: Most holy Mother of God, save us.
Choir:  Greater in honour than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word, truly the Mother of God, we magnify you.
 
Priest: Glory to you, Christ God, our hope, glory to you.
Choir: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Both now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.   Amen.
Lord, have mercy.   Lord, have mercy.   Lord, have mercy.
Give the blessing.
 
Priest: May he who was transfigured in glory on Mount Tabor before his holy Disciples and Apostles, Christ our true God, through the prayers of his most pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for he is good and the lover of mankind.
 
Choir:  Our great lord and father, his holiness Alexis, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, our lord the most reverend Vladimir, Metropolitan of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga, our rulers and all in authority, and all Orthodox Christians:  O Lord, preserve them for many years.
 

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