Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil

“Bless the Lord, O My Soul”

Hearing Rachmaninoff’s version of this song opened yet another door to my sense of musical pleasure.  The first time I heard this song’s melody (a 19th century chant–possibly earlier, according to Vlad) was in Kedrov’s arrangement, that has Protestant-sounding chords.  My ears, mind, and heart welcomed in this song at the Antiochian Village Summer Camp in Pennsylvania.  By definition, the word nostalgia implies a previous memory, yet the very first time I heard this song, I felt quite nostalgic towards it, as though it was a prodigal song, once lost, now found.  From the time I heard “Bless the Lord” this past summer, all the way up until last week, I had solely known Kedrov’s version.  Upon recently hearing Rachmaninoff’s arrangement that, in contrast, sounds Russian and has a “beautiful-sorrow” about it, his version revealed a new color of the same chant-melody–almost how a tree, green in the summertime, acquires different colors of beauty in the fall, yet remains the same tree.  What embellished this melody even more, to my ears, was the additional arrangement that Dr. Morosan played, written by Tchaikovsky (previous to Rachmaninoff).  Dr. Morosan remarked that Rachmaninoff led a more complex path for the human voice in his version; furthermore, Kedrov’s Protestant-sounding version seems the least complex of the three takes I have mentioned.  Does one of the three appeal to my musical senses more than the rest?  Honestly, they are all “perfect.”  Yes, Kedrov’s gives me the most goosebumps because it brewed earlier and cumulatively more than the other two songs.  However, each are perfect, in my opinion; for they each bring me to love God, “and that is the most ‘perfect’ thing we can do,” so my mother once taught me.

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