Pavel Tschesnokoff (1877-1944) was a renowned Russian composer of sacred choral music. He was educated at the Moscow Conservatory and eventually founded the choral conducting program there. He was also the last choirmaster at the original Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. His career took an unexpected turn after the 1917 Russian Revolution led to the creation of the Soviet Union, which forbid all forms of religious art. While he sustained himself writing secular choral music and directing secular choirs for several more years, the destruction of the Cathedral in 1933 (by order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin) effectively shut down his creative output.
Salvation Is Created was conceived as a six-voice choral work in 1912. It is an arrangement of a Kievan chant, originally set in Church Slavonic, a slavic liturgical language still in use in some Orthodox denominations. The form is very simple, consisting of two nearly identical verses that differ only in their final cadences. The text is as follows (from the Wikipedia article on the piece):
- Russian Script: Cпасение coдeлaл еси посреде земли, Боже. Аллилуия.
- Phonetic Alphabet: Spaséniye sodélal yesí posredé ziemlí, Bózhe. Allilúiya.
- English translation: Salvation is made in the midst of the earth, O God. Alleluia.
The “made” in the English translation becomes “created” in a more poetic interpretation, hence the English title.
Despite the wide publication of Salvation Is Created in both Russian and English during Tschesnokoff’s lifetime, he never heard it performed live. Luckily for us, it is now available in many different formats, so millions of people have been able to be part of live performances. Here is one such performance of his original version. Listen especially to the excellent basses:
There is also a famous band arrangement by Bruce Houseknecht:
Michael Brown created a version for young band with small ensemble needs in mind:
Michael Story created an even easier version designed for beginning band, which you can hear at J. W. Pepper.