Male Voices From the Shores of Volga

Russian Sacred music

1. A. Nikolsky “The Lord is my light” Psalm 27 of David (fragments)

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! 

2. P. Tchaikovsky “Lord’s prayer”

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil one. 

3. A. Kastalsky “Glory To God In The Highest”

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill among men. (x3)
Lord, you will open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. (x2) 

4. S. Rachmaninov “Hail Mary” From "All-Night Vigil", Op. 37

Mother of God and Virgin, rejoice, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast given birth to the Saviour of our souls.

5. P. Chesnokov “Gabriel appeared” Solo by A. Statnik

Gabriel stood before thee, O Maiden,
Revealing the pre-eternal counsel,
Saluting thee and exclaiming:
"Rejoice, O earth unsown!
Rejoice, O bush unburnt!
Rejoice, O depth hard to fathom!
Rejoice, O bridge leading to the heavens
and lofty ladder, which Jacob beheld!
Rejoice, O divine jar of Manna!
Rejoice, annulment of the curse!
Rejoice, restoration of Adam:
the Lord is with thee! 

6. A. Cretchaninov “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart”

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel. 

7. “O Heavenly King” Znamenny Chant, tune 6

O Heavenly King, O Comforter, O Spirit of Truth, Who art in all places and fillest all things, Treasure of Blessings and giver of life, come and abide in us, cleanse us from all impurity and save our souls, O Good One.

8. D. Bortniansky "We praise thee, O God"

Authorship of the text is traditionally ascribed to Saint Ambrose (d. 397)
WE praise thee, O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubin and Seraphin: continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles: praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets: praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs: praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world: doth acknowledge thee;
The Father: of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory: O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death: thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come: to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants: whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints: in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people: and bless thine heritage.
Govern them: and lift them up for ever.
Day by day: we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name: ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord: to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.  

9. A. Kosolapov “Confirm, O God..." Solo by B. Totokin

Confirm, O God, the holy Orthodox faith of Orthodox Christians for evermore.

Russian Secular music

10. “Dear little rowan”

The presence of a rowan tree feels the narrator’s heart with joy. The berries can be used for making a wonderful drink. But the man’s expectations are ruined because this year is not fruitful and his wife wasn’t able to make the adorable tincture. There is still a hope that next year the situation will change.

11. “The Song of the Volga Boatmen”

The Song of the Volga Boatmen is a well-known traditional Russian song. Glenn Miller took the song to #1 in the US charts in 1941. "Volga boatmen", the English name of this song, is also the name of one of the most impressive paintings of the famous Russian painter Ilya Repin: It shows a group of about twenty boatmen, passing by with slow heavy steps.
Everybody in Russia knows: They are bondmen, their landowner has hired them out to a rich merchant, and now they have to pull the merchant's heavy barge against the current of the Volga. For their landowner this is a good bargain, but the bondmen get nothing, of course. They are ragged and exhausted, they stump their bare feet into the grass on the shore, and by many ropes they pull the heavy barge upstream.

Yo, heave ho! Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Yo, heave ho! Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Now we fell the stout birch tree,
Now we pull hard: one, two, three.
Ay-da, da, ay-da! Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Now we pull hard: one, two, three.
Oh, you, Volga, mother river,
Mighty stream so deep and wide.
Ay-da, da, ay-da! Ay-da, da, ay-da!
Volga, Volga, mother river.
Yo, heave ho! Yo, heave ho!
Once more, once again, still once more
Yo, heave ho!
Yo, heave ho!

12. “Folk Accordion”

The town of Tula was famous for this instrument. A playful song about two friends who bought two boats with holes in the bottom.

13. “Oh you, wide steppe”

Steppe is a Russian word that means wide open space, a prairie.
One of the most soulful and beautiful Russian “slow” folk songs, in which Russia’s vast steppes and the mighty Volga River inspire a poor barge-hauler’s longing for liberty and freedom. Russia’s counterpart to both “Old Man River” and “Shenandoah.” 

14. “Along the Peterskaya Street”

A jovial song (maybe during people's Easter holiday when everybody is out in the snowed up streets, enjoying sunny winter day - eating, drinking, playing snow balls, building snow fortresses.). Several characters: one a young man dashing in a troika to meet his sweet heart, another - a young tipsy God-father is trying to kiss a God-mother.

Oh, along the Peterskaya,
along the Tverskaya-Yamskaya
Yes, oh along the Tverskaya-Yamskaya,
yes, with handbells
Oh, my good young lad is riding his troika,
Oh, my darling is going in his new clothes.
Oh, I was at the feast chattering with my girlfriends.
Oh, I wasn’t drinking “honey” (old Russian alcohol drink)
there but nice vodka
Oh, nice vodka and some fruit liqueur
Me, the young one, was drinking
from a half-bucket!
What’s going on
It’s not ice cracking
and it’s not a mosquito buzzing
It’s our friend bringing a perch (pikeperch)
to his good woman.
Oh, oh, oh!
Oh, my good woman, oh you my dear,
Boil that perch for our friend
and make him some thick fish soup!
Oh, oh, oh!
Oh, some good thick fish soup with some parsley!
And so kiss me, my darling soul!
So kiss me, so kiss me,
you my darling soul! Oh! 

15. “Moscow nights”

Even whispers aren't heard in the garden,
Everything has died down till morning.
If you only knew how dear to me
Are these Moscow nights.
The river moves, unmoving,
All in silver moonlight.
A song is heard, yet unheard,
In these silent nights.
But the dawn's becoming ever brighter.
So please, just be good.
Don't you, too, forget
These summer, Moscow nights.

16. “Coachman” Solo by B. Totokin 

This is one of the most beautiful and sad Russian Folk songs. It is about a coachman, who is dying in the middle of a huge steppe long way away from home. He is telling his friend to give the last Farewell to his parents and his beloved wife.

Steppe, endless steppe, the way lies far before us,
and in that dense steppe a coachman lay dying.
He summoned up all his strength, as he felt death approaching,
and he gave an order to his comrade:
"My dear friend, do not think of the bad times,
but bury me here in this dense steppe.
Give to my wife a word of farewell;
and give back to her this wedding ring.
And tell her that I died here, in the freezing steppe,
and that I have taken her love away with me.
Steppe, endless steppe, the way lies far before us,
and in that dense steppe a coachman lay dying.

17. “Fellows, Unharness Your Horses”

This song has been composed by Ukrainian anarchist Ivan Negrebitsky during the Russia-Ukraine and Civil war (1918-1921) especially for Nestor Makhno. This song became almost an anthem for the Ukrainian anarchists, despite it's rather bucolic lyrics. A famous song of the famous warriors, fighting for freedom until their death and after their death, no matter they were wrong or right.


Boris Totokin


Founding member of Nikolsky Ensemble. All-Russia singing contest prize winner. Choral conductor. Was conducting everyday choir and assisting the conductor of the big choir in St. Nicholas Monastery, Saratov. About 10 years’ experience of taking part in different choral projects. (Such as the performance of “Songs of Kursk” and other pieces for choir by G. Sviridov led by Gennady Dmitryak - the Principal Conductor of the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir).

Aleksandr Zaremba


Graduate of Saratov State Conservatoire. He has both choral conducting and music composing education. At present he also conducts a male choir and a mixed ensemble. Performed as a member of Saratov Theatre of Choral Music in many Russian and European cities. (“Carmina Burana” by C. Orff and Mozart’s “Requiem” in Spain and Sweden)

Aleksandr Statnik


Graduate of Saratov State Conservatoire, major in choral conducting. Choirmaster of Archbishops male choir of Saratov Eparchy. Has done numerous tours across Russia and Western countries as a soloist of Saratov Theatre of Choral Music.
He was decorated with Second-Class medal of Saratov Eparchy “The Vernicle Image of the Savior” for his activities for many years within Russian Orthodox Church.
Took part in international project of Russian Orthodox music recording in collaboration with choir of PatramINST, USA conducted by V. Gorbik – principle conductor of male choir of the Moscow Metochion of St. Trinity Lavra (Grammy bid). 

Timur Absalutinov

Graduate of Saratov State Conservatoire, major in choral and orchestra conducting. He is conducting the big male voice choir of St. Nicholas monastery in Saratov. During his studies and several years after he performed as a member of Saratov Theatre of Choral Music in many Russian and European cities.
At present he also conducts the students of secondary education orchestra in Saratov State Conservatoire, Folk instruments orchestra and takes part in Saratov philharmonic orchestra projects.