“God Mother Chenstokhovskaja”
Introduction to the Album
Dear Brethren! All that I composed earlier, I did in order to please my arrogance and play up with passions. Frankly speaking, when I finished recording the album “Farewell to Severianin”, I thought it would be a farewell to “Author’s Song”, in general.
I decided to bridge the great gap there was in my religious upbringing and education. I went to a Sunday school for adults, and completed a course of theology and teaching. At that time I hardly ever tried to write a new song, although two or three songs of mine did appear. However, I had no idea that they might grow into something serious, like an album, that I might ever come back to my listeners with a quite different kind of music.
Now that four years have elapsed since the last album was issued, it turns out that I have something to tell people. Moreover, I am quite positive that I have no right to keep silence, that I must tell people what God has taught me.
It is surely thanks to God’s Providence that the songs for this album have been created.
The song “Russia” on the lyrics by hieromonk Roman was the first to appear. I have taken it from the previous album , because, in its spirit, it was ahead of the time it was written. It was composed as far back as in 1999.
“The Tsar’s Testament” was created at the same time as “Russia”. It was not yet “mature” then, neither was it the right time for the song to come out. It is one of the most important songs for the album. The album opens with this song. I wrote it soon after I had read about the life of the last Tsar’s family (after the abdication, to be exact). The lyrics of the song are the words of the poem written by Princess Olga Nicolaevna in her diary, though the authorship of the poem is open to debate. Some people say that the Tsar’s daughter might have read and copied the poem into her diary, but I, personally, have no doubt whatsoever that it was the Princess herself who wrote the poem. My opinion relies upon the fact that the ideas she wrote about in the diary and in her letters coincide with those of the poem. Both in her diary and letters she writes that the Tsar, her father tells people not to hold any grudge against his enemies, nor revenge him on them, but love everyone.
First and foremost, I was greatly impressed by the poem since it shows that the repudiated Tsar
1) had a very clear view of what was going on in the country, and why it was going on in that particular way:
“The mournful days are sent to all of us
Because of our grave mutual sinning”
2) prophesied what was going to follow afterwards:
“ He says the world has wallowed in evil,
The truth has vanished from the earth,
And the sorrowful Cross of the future
Will be even harder and more terrible.”
( The repudiated Tsar foresaw the terror during the reign of Lenin, Stalin, Khruschchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, etc.).
3) was also prophetic in saying that the time of our sufferings in requital of the sins would be over, and Russia would regain its lost glory, in the end.
“ But the clock will strike the hour
When the good will overcome the evil,
And everything that has been lost
Will be brought back by mutual love.”
That is how the song “The Tsar’s Testament” appeared.
Then, for about a year, I didn’t write anything –as I said, I was studying theology at the school of theology and teaching . One day, during a break, a fellow- students came up to me, thrust a newspaper into my hand, and said: “ Here, take it!” Her name was Matushka [Mother] Tatjana.
I thanked her. It was an issue of “The Orthodoxy and Life”. There I found a short collection of verses by Larisa Kudrjashova . I wrote two songs on her verses – “Narrow Gates” and “Forgiveness Sunday”. It was by means of Lord’s servant Tatjana that God let me meet Larisa Kudrjashova, an orthodox believer and a brilliant poetess. Later on, I found another poem by Larisa in the magazine “ The Serbs’ Cross”, and wrote the song “Withstanding”.
I don’t know whether or not Tatjana remembers that she gave me the newspaper. I wanted to ask her if she did, but I never asked her, I never had a chance. Later on, something happened to her. She gave up our classes. She might have had some misfortune. Before she left our school, she used to look very sad . And I ( because of my callousness) never came up to her, never asked her if she needed any help …I have never met her since then. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could possibly let me know how Tatjana could be contacted. Her name is Tatjana ( Borisovna). She, a beautiful blonde, started the theological- teaching school at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra (monastery), in 1999.
In the same way, God let me come across the poetry of Ksenija Krivova, a nice young lady, a member of the Orthodox Church, who passed away, being still too young, at the age of 24, on the last day of August 2001. One of my fellow-students once gave me a sheet of paper with some typed poems by Ksenija.
Soon I wrote two songs “ Hope” and “Saint Ksenija” on the lyrics by Ksenija Krivova.
It should be noted that most of the poems that I set to music were not found in any collections of poems, but in other, mostly orthodox, books.
Thus, for instance, I came across Nickoluy Gogol’s poem “Gogol’s Prayer” when reading his book “Russia before the Doomsday”. To tell the truth, I read this piece of Gogol’s poetry after I had got acquainted with the Gogol I had not been familiar with when studying at school. By that time, I had already read his “Selections from the Correspondence with Friends”.
The same also refers to “My Quiet Motherland” by Nickoly Roubtzov. It was not in a collection of his poems, but in a small brochure “Of Holy Virgin, Virginity and Chastity”, sold in church kiosks that I first read the poem.
Inscrutable are God’s ways!
And there is still another ( also prophetic) song, whose lyrics, surely, were not found in a collection of poems. It was written on the lyrics of Reverent Seraphim Vyritzkiy’s verse “The Prophecy”, the name of the song being the same.
Before the song was created, I used to come and weep on His grave in Vyritza. At that time, Seraphim Vyritskiy had not been glorified “Saint” yet. When he was still alive, he used to say: ” Come to my grave as if I were alive!” My heart was filled up the feeling of great happiness and pleasure after the Holy communion on the day of His glorification during the service held by the Metropolitan in Vyritza. It was on that day when, deep in my heart, I felt that God was favorable to my petitions I had been praying to Him to grant me for so long. It was a miracle! I had never dreamt of getting His favor! It was on a miracle and on God’s great mercy, that we, all those who had been praying, had set our hopes! And it was thanks to the prayers by Seraphim Vyritzkiy, the newly glorified Great Prayer for Russia, that the miracle came true! Since then I have never stopped praying to Him to grant me His help.
In the verses that I dared to set to music, I was mostly impressed by two main things:
1) His gift to foresee the events that have already come true by now.
“ A thunderstorm will pass over the Russian land,
God will forgive the Russians their sins,
And the Saint Cross, with Holy beauty,
Above the God’s Churches will shine again.
Divine abodes will reopen,
And the belief in God will unite us all,
The chimes of church bells
Will wake up Holy Russia
From the sinful sleep to its salvation.”
It should be taken into account that the poem was written by Saint Seraphim Vyritzkiy as far back as in 1943, when fierce fighting with German fascists was going on along all the battle- fronts, and what made the situation even harder was that at that time the Russian Church was being subjected to awful humiliation: churches were closed, priests were shot dead. In spite of all the misfortunes, the Saint was saying that abodes would reopen, churches would be restored, and the belief in God would get firmer and firmer.
2) Another thing that strikes me immensely is His prophecy that has not
come true yet. He says that the lost glory of the Russians will come back; that the Russian nation, being a true keeper of the belief in God, has got a great mission to fulfill ; that having endured all the misfortunes, Russia will win a victory over its enemies; that God’s glory will shine all over Russia, in the end; i.e., the prophecy of our great writers (N.Gogol and F. Dostoevskiy) will be carried out, and Russia will save the world.
“ The terrible misfortunes will calm down,
Russia will win the victory over its enemies,
And the name of the Great Russian nation
Will thunder all over the Universe.”
I wish this prophecy would come true, but how hard it is to believe in it now when Russia is so much humiliated against other countries. It seems too hard to believe in it!
However, the fact that the first half of the prophecy has already been realized, gives us hope and assurance that its other half will be accomplished, as well.
Another poem, or rather a ballad, which predetermined the general idea of the album, is “The Golgotha of Great Russia”. I found it in the newspaper “ The Sredniaja Rogatka” (¹ 2 (9) 2000).
I do not remember how I got the paper, but I cherish it very much, since it’s concerned with the repentance for the Tsar’s murder.
Here is what we read about the authorship of the poem: “ The poem by an unknown author is taken from the book by general- major I. K. Kirienko <1613. From Honor and Glory to Meanness and Shame of February, 1917> St. Paulo, Brazil, 1963” .
The ballad being rather long, consisting of 14 stanzas , I had to cut it down to 10 in the song, and yet it takes 9 minutes to play it.
I have changed only one word in the verse: instead of
“ And for all the Russians,
For THEIR grave sin”
“And for all the Russians,
For OUR grave sin”
I do hope that this song will touch the hearts of those who have not yet been imbued with the sense of the duty to repent for their own, their fathers, grandfathers, and their great-grandfathers’ sins.
It is with this song that the first side of the cassette finishes.
The last song of the album is called “ God Mother Chenstokhovskaja”. It gave the name to the album.
The song is concerned with the main topic of the album – the repentance of the Russians for the sins of perjury and regicide, praying to God by all our people to have mercy on us and granting us a new Orthodox Tsar .
Why, of all the numerous icons of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, should this particular icon (God Mother Chenstokovskaja) be concerned with the idea of granting us a new Tzar? The matter is that in the 90-ies of the 20th century, a woman, an Orthodox believer, ( Valentina Sizova) received an indication that we should pray to God to have mercy on the Russians, and forgive their sins. The indication was given to her several times. She was also told that if all the Russians together with the Patriarch repented and held a church service , praying to the icon of God Mother Chenstokhovskaja, God might forgive us and grant us a new Orthodox Tsar. (The woman heard a voice that told her about it while she was kissing the relics of Saint Seraphim Sarovskiy. Other Saints supported her belief in this indication). At first, she hesitated whether to believe it or not. She thought she might have been tempted by the devil. She asked one elder after another, but none of them said it was the devil’s tricks.
The shortest answer that she got was from Elder Nickoluy (Gurijanov): “Rejoice! For God has disclosed you a secret!”
A book about the indication has been written lately, and many believers started praying to the icon of God Mother Chenstokhovskaja asking to help them and grant them a new orthodox Tsar.
Valentina Sizova also received an indication as to the date on which the Russians might get the forgiveness thanks to the Saint’s help. She was told that it would take place during the evening service to God Mother Chenstokhovskaja on the 7th of January.
Recently in many churches, following an evening service, priests have been holding a service to the icon of God Mother Chenstokhovskaja.
The satan, the human’s enemy, cannot bear the Orthodox Russians to turn to their salvation. The God’s old enemy is trying hard to prevent the Russians from getting united in their prayers for repentance.
With this in view, the devil has incited some laymen ( and, at present, even some priests, as well) against the idea of praying to the sacred image of God Mother Chernstokhovskaja. They say that we cannot pray to the icon located in Poland. ( By God’s will, the icon painted by Evangelist Luka has been in Catholic Poland, in Yasnogorskiy monastery in the city of Chenstokhov, for some centuries. The Catholics also revere Her sacred image).
The devil took advantage of this idea, and dimmed the minds of those who are now trying to persuade the Russians not to pray to the sacred image of God Mother Chenstokhovskaja. They say that if the Russians start praying to the icon, they are certain to be subjected to the pontificate of the Pope.
According to them, those ( i.e. we) who are praying to the sacred image of God Mother Chenstokhovskaja to forgive us and grant us an Orthodox Tsar, are to blame that the Russians are being made to join the ecumenical mob! And those who are participating in the ecumenical movement are not. ( Recently common ecumenical services have been held to make the Russians join Catholics and other Christian religions.)
If one conforms to this perverted logic, we should not pray to St. Nicolas, the Miracle-maker, because His relics are in Catholic Italy.
The song “God Mother Chenstokhiovskaja” is a kind of prayer, that we offer unto the Mother of God pleading the Lord to forgive us and grant us a new Tsar of Orthodox belief. Being written in the style of folk music, the song can be performed without an accompaniment.
Oh, God Mother Chenstokhovskaja do pray unto God for us!
The album also contains a song “A Prayer for Okudjava”. The story of its appearance is rather interesting.
Once, at an orthodox exhibition, I saw a small book. It was written by a priest Michail (Kchodanov) and entitled “Save Our Souls”. There were portraits of Vysotskiy, Okudjava and Talkov in the cover of the book. I started reading the book hoping to find there some kind words about my favorite bard Bulat Okudjava. The author, however, spared the least space of all to him. The subject of the book is to advocate the bards of the Soviet Russia against “the today’s neophyte - churchgoer”. The aim of the author was to make the neophytes spare the Soviet bards, considering the time they sang their songs and lived in, so that they should not be looked down of with condescension: “He was not christened, therefore he does not deserve our attention.”
There are a lot of warm words written about Vladimir Vysotskiy. I share the author’s view, up to a point. A large part of the book is given to Igor Talkov. I don’t know either the bard, or his songs well enough to judge as to how good his songs are. Very few pages are devoted to Galich. And shamefully little is written about Okudjava.
In fact, the author sees nothing at all in Okudjava’s life and songs that a Christian should take example of. The only admission he makes is that since Okudjava was christened before his death, we are unaware of what might have happened to his soul at that time.
In my heart, I was deeply hurt by the fact that Father Michail mistreated the bard whose songs had taught me how to live at the time when I did not know God.
At first, I wanted to write a letter to Father Michail to explain to him, point by point, by the citations from his songs, how Bulat Okudjava was, by his songs and all his life, getting his soul ready to take up the Christ.
I started recalling and taking notes of the lines from his songs where Christian virtues are spoken about.
There were so many of them that I hardly had time enough to record them.
But then I understood that instead of writing the letter I’d better write a song “A prayer for Okudjava”. I decided to use a lot of his words and melodies in the song.
Later, when finishing the theological courses, I devoted my diploma paper to Bulat Okudjava. It was called “On educational importance of Bulat Okudjava’s songs”. ( footnote)
The album also contains a song devoted to my friends living in the Far East. I started composing the song as soon as I boarded the plane on the way back home from Khabarovsk to St. Petersburg. I finished it on the eve of recording the songs of the album. The song “ Golden Setuan” is a kind of saying “Hello” to the people who gave me four days of warmth, love and a fairytale.
Translated by Eaja Borkovskaja.