Music Therapy For These Challenging Times

I don’t know where I’d be these days without music and my memories of music. For example I’m thinking about one piece right now. 40 years ago when I was with the Oregon Repertory Singers we sang Rachmaninoff’s “Bogoroditse Dyevo”.
Back then the Rep Singers had 2 guys that could go down to a low D. I’m not naturally there but I found that when I was in between those basso profundos I could also hit most of the very low notes … something like a sympathetic vibration maybe?  So here’s where I’m going with this … I still get goose bumps when I hear the basses in these two groups (links below) hit that low note on the last line:“Yesi dush nashikh”And tt’s not only the way the notes vibrate my heart and soul. The Russian words actually mean something like:
“Consume all of me God” (I’m thinking here of God defined as the amazingly benevolent universe.)First, I just listened to the vocalizing. I invite you to do that now. You might decide to stop there and go on with your day. 
I’m hoping though, some will hang with these amazing sounds and listen again with this transliteration:“Bogoroditse Devo, raduisya
Blagodatnaya Marie
Gospod Toboyu
Blagoslovena Ti v’zhenah, i blagosloven
Plod chreva Tvoego
Yago Spadza rodila, y we esi dush nashikh”

Here’s one translation to English:

Holy Mary, God birther,
Blessed among women are you. 
And blessed is the fruit of your womb.
You have birthed the savior 
Therefore you have all my heart and soul. 

{Bogoroditse “God-bearing” Djevo “virgin”, raduisya “rejoice,”
Blagodatnaya “full-of-grace” Marie “Mary,”
Gospod “Lord is with” toboyu “you”
Blagoslovyena “Blessed are” tyhv’ “you among”zhenakh “women,”
Y “and” blagoslovyen “blessed” plod “fruit” chreva “womb” Tvoyego “of-you,”
yago “for” Spasa “Savior” rodila “borne”yesi “you-have” dush “our souls” nashikh}

You may choose to focus on the last verse:
Yesi dush nashikh 
Literally “Eat our souls” or idiomatically, “Consume all of us (me), all the heart and soul of us (me.)”
or perhaps “Take all of me God, you have all of me.”

Back then (about 1980) Gil Seeley the inestimable director of the Repertory Singers had recited a translation for us. But of course that had faded from my memory. So. In the wee morning hours I took advantage of the Internet and came up with what I’m sharing with you here.

Now. Here’s the very most beautiful part of this whole story for me. When Gil first gave us the music and had translated the Russian lyrics for us, he finished with something like: “The translation may sound boringly religious but I promise it will make your heart soar and beat stronger when you feel the music you’re making .” Boy was that an understatement!

I’ll finish with this. After we sang it the first time through, the soprano section, almost in unison, turned around wide-eyed and smiling brightly at hearing our lowest note at Yeshi dush nashikh 

“na-a-a-a (low, very low) shiikh”

(Here the Voces8 group didn’t hit it. The Robert Shaw Chorale did but, to be fair, they started in a higher key.)

Put your head-phones on and enjoy!

Preview YouTube video Voces8 | Bogoroditse Devo (Sergei Rachmaninoff)



  1. Richard A Manhire says

    Beautiful music ———-timeless
    Needed now————–inspirational, uplifting, hopeful
    Touches my soul——–God calling, opens pathways for me to see/feel
    God on a deeply emotional, personal level

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