This is a lovely piece, suitable for small choirs and an excellent introduction to the works of Kastalsky, a great choral master of the early 20th century.
Kastalsky did not write a single unified setting of the All-Night Vigil service, choosing instead to compose several different settings for nearly every unchanging element of that service; altogether, he wrote three settings of the Canticle of St. Symeon “Nîñe otpushcháyeshï” [Lord, Now Lettest Thou]. Moreover, in several instances—the present hymn being one of them—he arranged different variants of the same composition, for small choir, for single-gender choirs, and in the case of this piece, a variant with baritone solo and chorus (our cat. no. Ks111), which, judging from its placement in the first edition, was likely the composer’s original version. Kastalsky called this setting “demestvenny,” a term that refers to demestvenny chant and demestvenny polyphony, a particular type of Russian medieval chant the composer was studying at the time. However, it does not use any recognizable melody of demestvenny chant. In fact, the term more likely indicates that this setting is freely composed, rather than being based on a pre-existing chant, which was one of the several interpretations given to the term “demestvenny” by scholars at the time. (The composer Gretchaninoff also used the term “demestvenny” in reference to his Liturgia domestica, op. 79, but with a somewhat different meaning, suggesting that it was composed for extra-liturgical, concert use, rather than a liturgical context).