The Russian folk music ensemble Svetilen makes its return to the Musica Russica catalog with four discs, which are are only available for downloading, under license from the artists. Like their counterparts, the famed Sirin Ensemble (see our cat. Nos. H094 and H097), Svetilen (named after the “Hymn of Light” sung at the end of the Russian Orthodox Matins service) explores the folk roots of sacred singing in Russia, particularly as represented by “spiritual verses” and carols that were sung outside of liturgical services in pre-modern Russian society. A number of these spiritual verses, as collected and re-worked by the ensemble's director Dmitry Garkavi, form the bulk of the material on their CDs. Some of these songs are somber and penitential while others bring joyful delight to the ears. Some tracks are accompanied by traditional Russian folk instruments, such as the hurdy-gurdy and the gusli. (The downloads include the accompanying tray cards and booklets, which contain titles in English and Russian). This CD focuses on spiritual songs from the Nativity season, as well as other church celebrations throughout the liturgical year. These rare CDs are a must-have for lovers of traditional Russian music and culture in some of its most distinctive and original manifestations.