Spiritual songs >The Hymnal Project > Nativity

This is our second (and better known) hymn to the celebrated wonder-working saint, Nicholas, archbishop of Myra in Lycia.

Current version

Here is the version in the Byzantine Catholic Hymnal (2007):

O who loves Nicholas the Saintly

Boh predvicnyj


This hymn is found in many sources, and is sung widely beyond the Carpatho-Rusyn community.

See this article for the Slavonic. I have several harmonizations in hand, which I will bring up later. Does anyone see any problems with the Slavonic text?

Our English translation appears to be the work of Professor Michael Hilko (of blessed memory!) who was the choir director at St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Passaic, New Jersey. This translation was published (uncredited) along with the liturgical hymns for the feast of Saint Nicholas in Monsignor Levkulic's The Divine Liturgy, a Book of Prayer (1978), page 104.

English text

This is such as well known hymn that there is not much point in making any chance - and in this case, very little need, though it would be lovely to have some additional verses from the Slavonic!

A few observations:

The Slavonic allows "O kto kto" to have both the sense of a question ("Who loves Nicholas? Who serves Nicholas?") and a relative pronoun ("He who loves Nicholas, he who serves Nicholas...") This becomes a problem in the second verse, where a listen may assume that the song is asking who dwells "in God's holy mansions", before continuing in the same sentence. A one-word change would resolve this:

He who dwells in God's holy mansions
Is our help on the land and oceans....

In the final phrase for verses 1 and 2,, I would omit the capitalization of "Holy", since it looks too much like the title of the Pope when his name is not used ("The Holy Father today announced....") It is true that the usual liturgical title for a saintly bishop in our tradition is "our holy father Name" (without capitalization, while "Father Nicholas" is also used for this saint. So I would prefer "holy Father Nicholas" in the last phrase of verses 1 and 2.

The accentuation is off in two places in the third verses. Here is the Hilko version of verse 3, which is a bit better:

Holy Saint, hearken to our prayers;
let not life drive us to despair.
All our efforts shall not wane,
singing praises to your name,
Holy Father Nicholas.

Our English translation of verse 3 (perhaps from Monsignor Levkulic) keeps the Slavonic vo viki (or na viki, "forever") but breaks the rhyme scheme of the other verses.

We certainly need to credit Professor Hilko. Perhaps we might add his verse three as an additional verse, putting it in the third position?


Though there are several versions of the melody in circulation, they usually differ only as harmonies of one another. Our current melody has no problems that I can see.The key signature should be D major, not G major.

This IS a case where I think we are better off writing this as metered music (i.e with a time signature). Any thoughts on whether we should write it out in half notes and quarters rather than quarter notes and eighth notes?


I would very much like to publish as well as set of four-part harmonizations (and perhaps 3-part ones as well, for men's of women's voices) of the hymns in our proposed hymnal. In this case, however, I would rather not use Professor Hilko's published setting. Does anyone have one they can contribute?

(I will also look in the music I have from the Seminary Choir and report back here.)

Please add to the discussion!

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