I always have to stop myself when I say I like “all kinds of music”. Because, honestly, that just isn’t true, there is really only one kind of music I like. No, not [just] Black Metal, I’m talking about music in a minor key. I mean, I’m a pretty happy guy, but there is something about sad, sad songs that just does it for me. I don’t dislike Vivaldi’s “Spring” and “Fall”, but I far prefer “Summer” and “Winter” (guess which seasons he writes in a minor key). “Satisfaction” is a fine song, but I’d rather listen to “Paint it Black” any day…you get the idea. Basically, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that sting [of soul crushing sorrow and sadness]
This month on Minor Key Monday I discuss the fact that Russians are more hardcore than the rest of us at everything, including church music:
I’m really not familiar with the Russian Orthodox Church beyond enjoying their artwork in Andrei Rublev and appreciating all the cool songs in Ivan the Terrible. I think the basic idea is that there used to be one Christian church way back in the day, then various churches changed different things and split off. In theory the Eastern Orthodox Church (which includes the Russian Orthodox Church) is the only church that remains completely unchanged from the one old church. Of course, all this really means is that I’ve got more Christian music for today’s Minor Key Monday.
Today’s song was written by the minor Russian composer Alexander Arkhangelsky (even their names are just plain hardcore) around the turn of the century. From what I was able to find out, Arkhangelsky was most well known for running a badass choir and replacing boys with women in his choir (which, I’m just going to also assume means he was instrumental in stopping the castration of young boys for the purpose of extending their singing years).
Still, despite Arkhangelsky’s supposed status as a minor composer, today’s song is just plain badass. It is part of an “All-night Vigil” which is actually just a 3 hour service (apparently the Russians are more hardcore at everything except staying up late). It’s about the usual Jesusy stuff, but, thankfully it is full of that special brand of epic Russian sorrow. The voices materialize out of nothing and fade into each other always ending on a note more sorrowful than the last. Hell, if I was in Russia I might even go to church if this is the kind of music they play.
However, I’m not just including this today’s song for the sorrowful Arvo Part vibe. It’s also Christmas music! Or at least a version of the Great Doxology is on THIS CD. So happy birthday Jesus, hope it’s a good one this year!