“Our Faith”: Harmonious Combination of Liturgical and Folk Music

Led by the renowned precentor Nun Juliania (Denisova) the Monastic Choir of St. Elisabeth is considered to be one of the best Church choirs in Belarus. Recently the choristers toured several European capitals including Berlin and London. They undoubtedly have their loyal listeners in many countries today. Those of us who were not lucky enough to attend the choir’s performances have a chance to get familiar with its concert programme listening to the CD Album “Our Faith”.

The tracks presented in the album are structured according to their significance. At the beginning there are several chants that are sung during the service in the Orthodox Church. We can listen to both East Slavic and South Slavic tunes in this part of the album. Liturgical chants are followed by several folk songs which comprise Belarusian, Russian, and even French cultural tradition. One of the songs “Haze over Water” tells a touching story about a girl who prefers a monastic cassock over bridal dress.

The rest of the songs are, for the most part, the fruits of labour of contemporary poets and composers. One of them is the famous Russian poet Archpriest Andrew Logvinov whose poems address such universal themes as compassion, mercy, forgiveness, patriotism and others. At the end of the album we can listen to “You Simply Have To Love”, which is probably one of the most recognized songs created by Nun Juliania (Denisova).

At first glance, the album’s name “Our Faith” seems to suggest that apart from liturgical and spiritual chants no other music genre should be present in the current CD. In that context, one might ask, “Why are there so many folk songs in the album? How are they related to the Christian Faith?” However, we should not be surprised since there has always been a deep connection between the Church and folk music. In conclusion, I would like to quote Stepan Smolensky (1848 – 1909), a choir director and scholar of the ancient Russian chant, “The Russian spiritual singing is cognate with the folk song, and thus, it represents the purest and deepest expression of the spiritual life of the people”.

By Vladimir Sypchu,
a chorister from the parish of
the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple
in Minsk

The Catalog of Good Deeds, 2018