Orthodox Hymns of Ukraine a Timely Reissue

Actions can have unintended consequences. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked an interest in Ukranian classical music. More has been performed and broadcast over the past two years than in the two previous decades.

Efforts to assimilate Ukraine began under the Czars. And they’ve never been fully successful. Ukraine has its own language, its own culture, its own music — and even its own religion. Russian and Ukrainian cultures share some similarities. But there are some very distinct differences.

One example is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox church. Both branches share some musical traditions. Neither allows instruments in their worship services. Hymns sung by unaccompanied choirs.

This release features Ukrainian hymns from a variety of sources. There are some dating back to the Middle Ages. Some by Dmity Bortnyansky from the 1770s. Bortnyansky brought the Classical Style to Russia and created a new form of hymnody.

Mikhailo Verbytsky, active in the 1860s is also represented. He wrote Ukraine’s national anthem. His hymns combine tradition with a Romantic sensibility.

Mykola Lysenko was one of Ukraine’s major composers of the early 20th Century. As an ethnomusicologist, he was key in preserving the country’s folk music. A heritage the Czarists and later the Soviets desperately tried to obliterate.

Orthodox Hymns of Ukraine
Men’s Choir Ukraina; Evhen Zadarko, director

This is a reissue of a KOCH Schann release from 1989. But what a timely re-release! Softness at the extreme registers betray its age. But overall the sound quality of this remastered issue is very good.

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