Audio sample: hymnal verse - choir verse, ad lib - harmonized descant. Free score.
Commissioned by Czar Nicholas for use as a national anthem, the tune known as known as RUSSIA (or RUSSIAN HYMN) was composed by violinist and composer Alexei Lvov in 1833. This tune - and several harmonizations of it - superseded the preposterous use of the tune of the English national anthem, which otherwise retained the text 'God save the Czar.' Singable and majestic, it was famously quoted by Tchaikovsky in his 1880 masterpiece, The Year 1812 Solemn Overture, though abandoned as a national anthem when events of history overtook it. Happily for those with this setting in their hymnbooks, it has been regifted to us for more eternal puposes. Lvov's career was characterized by overachievement; he was also concertmaster of his own touring string ensemble, a civil engineer, and (eventually) a military general. In 1828 he was appointed aide-de-campe to the Czar, and subsequently attained the position of Maestro of the Imperial Chapel. His ensemble toured Europe and hosted guest soloists such as Liszt, the Schumanns, and Berlioz. The text now widely used for this setting is a reduction of two hymns, the first two verses coming from In Time of War by Henry Fothergill Chorley (1842), the final two coming from hymnologist John Ellerton's derivative, less nationalistic text, written in 1870.
aka RUSSIAN HYMN
God the All-provident! earth by thy chastening
yet shall to freedom and truth be restored;
through the thick darkness thy kingdom is hastening;
thou wilt give peace in thy time, O Lord.
– John Ellerton, 1870