In a previous posting I mentioned a common inscription found on Russian crosses:“O Lord, save thy people” (Спаси, Господи, люди Твоя — (Spasi, Gospodi, liudi tvoya).”

That is from the Troparion to the Holy Cross.

If you have heard Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 Overture, which is now often performed at public events and celebrations (paradoxically even the 4th of July) in the United States and elsewhere, you may not be aware that it begins with an instrumental and sometimes vocal (depending on which scoring is chosen) version of the Troparion to the Holy Cross.

Here is the beginning segment of the work in a vocal rendering.  In the sung Slavic version, you will note the name Николаю Павловичу — Nikolaiu Pavlovichu (Nikolai Pavlovich/Nicholas Pavlovich).  The Tsar in 1812 would have been his father, Alexander Pavlovich.

As you listen, you may follow along in the text below, followed by a translation into English.

Спаси, Господи, люди Твоя, — Spasi, Gospodi, liudi tvoya
И благослови достояние Твоё, — I blagoslovi dostoyanie Tvoyo
Победы благоверному Императору нашему Николаю — Pobedui blagovernomy Imperatoru nashemu Nikolaiu
Павловичу на сопротивныя — Pavlovichu na soprotivnuiya
И Твоё сохраняя — I tvoyo sokhranyaya
Крестом Твоим жительство. — Krestom tvoim zhitel’stvo.

Lord, Save your people
And bless your inheritance;
Give victory to our Orthodox Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich
Over adversaries,
And your protecting cross
To your habitation.

Now to confuse matters, there are several versions of the text actually used in choral renderings of the work.

In the above version, you may notice that the pronunciation of some words is more “modern” Russian, such as “tvoyo” for “your,” (Твое) instead of the more Church Slavic pronunciation “tvoyay” as found in the  version below, which also replaces these words:

Победы благоверному Императору нашему Николаю Павловичу на сопротивныяPobedui blagovernomy Imperatoru nashemu Nikolaiu Pavlovichu na soprotivnuiya
Give victory over enemies to our Orthodox Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich

With these:

Победы православным христианом на сопротивныя даруя
pobedui pravoslavnuim khristianom na soprotivnuiya daruya
Bestow victory to Orthodox Christians over enemies


Here is a performance of the Troparion alone:

It is repeated in a much more glorious and thunderous manner in the finale:

 Finally, just for fun, here is the old Tsarist national anthem , the beginning of which follows the Troparion to the Cross in the finale — Bozhe Tsarya Khrani:

Here it is with pronunciation:

Боже, Царя храни!
Bozhe Tsarya khrani
Сильный, державный,
Sil’niy, derzhavniy
Царствуй на славу, на славу нам!
Tsarstvuy na slavu na slavu nam

Царствуй на страх врагам,
Tsarstvuy na strakh vragam
Царь православный!
Tsar’ pravoslavniy
Боже, Царя,  Царя храни!
Bozhe Tsarya, Tsarya khrani

God, protect the Tsar!
Strong, reigning,
Ruling to glory, to our glory!
Ruling to the fear of our enemies,
The Orthodox Tsar.
God protect the Tsar, the Tsar!