An excerpt from Kurt Sander's Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, the first complete setting of the Orthodox Liturgy in English composed in the Slavic choral idiom. Commissioned in 2016 by the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute (PaTRAM), it follows in the great tradition similar works by Tchaikovsky, Gretchaninoff, and Rachmaninoff. At the same time, Sander's masterful score breaks new ground: It employs a richness of modal harmony and sonority that places it definitively in the 21st century; it is built upon musical themes that are recognizably "American," yet have an objective and universal quality to them; and it utilizes those distinctive motives to achieve a degree of thematic unity never previously heard in an Orthodox sacred choral work. In short, this work is a first-rate example of Orthodox liturgical creativity in the present day—achieving a remarkable blend of the traditional and the contemporary.
The Sunday Communion Psalm verse, "Praise the Lord from the Heavens," employs traditional Slavic chant motifs (reminiscent of Chesnokov's famed "Salvation Is Created"), woven and layered over Byzantine-style sustained drones and pedal points—symbols of eternity in Orthodox musical theology. The resulting air of mystery and devotion sets the scene for the appearance of the Communion Gifts—the culmination of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. The premiere recording, by the PaTRAM Institute Singers, Peter Jermihov, conductor (Reference Recordings, FR-731), was nominated in 2019 for a Grammy in the Best Choral Performance category.