God, Thy Earth is Aflame

Text author:
Andrejs Eglitis (1912 - 2006)

Catalogue Nr.:
MB 1330
Musica Baltica
Year of publication:
Year of composition:
Title in original language:
Dievs, Tava zeme deg

Full score
Number of pages:
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Vocal Score
Number of pages:
Catalogue Nr.:
MB 1330VS
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Sample_Pages_MB1330_Garuta_God, Thy Earth is Aflame

Text translations_English_French_Italian_Japanese_Finnish_Spanish_German_Swedish

The cantata Dievs, Tava zeme deg! [God, Thy Earth is Aflame!] by Lūcija Garūta with lyrics by Andrejs Eglītis was written towards the end of the Second World War and has become an artistic testimony of its time.


For the second time in the 20th century – and again against their will – the Latvian nation had been dragged into war.

The cantata was premiered on March 15, 1944, in the Old Church of St Gertrude in Rīga. In churches filled to capacity, the work was performed many times right up to the last days of the war, making a profound and powerful impact on all who heard it.

During the post-war period under Soviet occupation the cantata, its Lord’s Prayer and other fragments could only be performed outside Latvia. Then, with changes brewing in the Soviet Union and the National Awakening movement gathering strength in Latvia towards the end of the 1980s, the cantata could once again been performed in Latvia. Its rendition in 1988 and the years following made it a spiritual symbol of Latvia’s National Awakening, the so-called Third Awakening since Latvians recognized themselves as a nation.


The 21st century saw a new development – musicians of other nations began to perform the cantata, singing it in Latvian and thus confirming the prediction put forward by Zenta Mauriņa in 1936 in her essay Sveiciens Lūcijai Garūtai [Greetings to Lūcija Garūta]: “Musicians are fortunate, more so than poets. (…) Their language is understood everywhere and their art has the power to unite their homeland with the whole world. I believe that our talented Lūcija Garūta will do that. She will take the unique qualities of her nation to distant lands…”

Yasunori Kikuchi, who suggested the performance in Japan, said: “I think that Garūta’s cantata symbolizes the soul of the Latvian nation, a nation that has endured so much during the war years and honours God as the symbol of its ideals. To my mind, the cantata’s theme is one that is common to people of all races striving for peace.”

After the cantata’s performance the conductor of Rachmaninow-Chor Gunther Strothmann wrote: “I have up till now not experienced a Lord’s Prayer with such a deep inner dramatic quality… In my opinion Garūta’s cantata God, Thy Earth is Aflame! ranks with the most impressive requiems in the musical world. It was written during a very difficult period, in the almost hopeless situation that existed in her homeland, and the composer wrote it for her homeland. But for me it has become a monument to freedom: for all countries, all nations, all people, and for each one of us…”


This new edition, both text and music, is a composite work: it has been examined and revised, amalgamating and harmonizing all the available sources – two manuscripts of Garūta (1943 and 1944/45)4 and the edition of the cantata issued in Stockholm in 1984.


In his candid and piercing poem Andrejs Eglītis reveals the tragic fate of a nation on the brink of non-existence, when emotions oscillate wildly between hope and despair. The composer Lūcija Garūta expresses all this in music that is deeply Latvian at heart, in combination with the enlightened power of intense spiritual experience, which gives hope and faith. The authors of the cantata express the heartbreaking situation existing in their homeland and give it the dimensions of a universal tragedy of mankind. Music and poetry have become inseparably entwined.

Seeking refuge, a nation joins in prayer.


                                                                Daina Pormale

Director of the Lūcija Garūta Foundation

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