St Vladimir’s Seminary Octet releases Arise! Music of the Psalms

11 February 2020 • Yonkers, NY

A new CD by the renowned Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Octet, Arise! Music of the Psalms, sets ancient, sacred wisdom to classic and contemporary musical settings. The album is now available through St. Vladimir’s Seminary (SVS) Press.

“This new recording presents music from a wide variety of times and places, but it all draws from the same ancient well: the Psalms," said Seminary Music Director Robin Freeman.

“Music for Christian worship has always centered on the Psalms,” said Harrison Russin, assistant director of Arise! and lecturer in liturgical music at St. Vladimir's. “The text articulates those cries, while the music situates us as hearers, forcing us into the role of ‘the coming generation’ (Ps 78:4), fusing ancient words and modern melodies.”

The first track on the album is Freeman’s new arrangement of Arvo Pärt’s Habitare fratres in unum for men’s voices, which she arranged specifically for this recording with the composer’s permission (The Seminary has a long-established relationship with Pärt, which began with the Arvo Pärt Project.). Other tracks on Arise! include the traditional Russian arrangements of Pavel Chesnokov’s Da ispravitsa (“Let My Prayer Arise”), Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s classic setting of Bless the Lord, O my Soul, A. Arkhangelsky’s O Lord of Hosts, and G. Lvovsky’s O Taste and See; the modern Russian stylings of Viktor Kallinikov’s Blazhen muzh (“Blessed is the man”); the Byzantine Arise, O God; an Alaskan setting of The Lord is My Shepherd; and American settings like Nicholas Reeves’ Wedding Hymn and Samuel Babcock’s Gratitude. Another track, James Budinich’s Peace, O Lord, was composed specially for the Octet.

Directed by Robin Freeman, the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Octet singers on the new album are Priests Christopher Moore, Gregory Potter, and Andrew Honoré, Harrison Russin, Brenden Link, Angelo Niqula, Zachariah Mandell, and Phillip Ritchey. Also featured are Seminary Lecturer in Liturgical Music Deacon John El Massih, who directed the two Byzantine pieces and is featured prominently as the soloist on By the Waters of Babylon; Seminarians John Thetford, Theodore Werthmuller, and Priest Herman Fields; and Khouria Mary Honoré.

The first St. Vladimir’s Seminary Octet was formed in the summer of 1962 and visited some 80 parishes throughout the United States that same year. Since then, Octets featuring seminarians and members of the Seminary community have continued to promote liturgical music in English—in a style conducive to worship—and brought sacred music to countless Orthodox and non-Orthodox people alike through live concerts and recordings. More albums featuring Seminary Octets through the years can be found at SVSPress.com.

To order a copy of Arise! Music of the Psalms, visit SVSPress.com or call 800-204-BOOK (2665).