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Watch London choir sing a “Prayer for Ukraine”

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J-P Mauro - published on 03/09/22

This 1885 hymn is the spiritual anthem of Ukraine.

One of the premier English chamber choirs, Londinium, has released a new recording of “Prayer for Ukraine.” The song is a 19th-century hymn that has become symbolic of Ukrainian independence. Londinium joined the release with a request for donations to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which is run by the Disasters Emergency Committee. 

The hymn

“Prayer for Ukraine” was composed by Mykola Lysenko, in 1885, with lyrics by poet and civil activist Oleksandr Konysky. It became the spiritual anthem of Ukraine during the Ukrainian War of Independence (1917-1920) and has been popularly played at religious services and major national functions ever since. 

The song was written during a time of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and as such it has become more prominent since February 24, 2022. It was originally written for a children’s choir, but the complex chords proved too difficult for children to sing. Instead, it was released for a treble choir. In the years since, it has evolved to a full four-part choral piece that can be taken on by choirs of any size.

‘Saturday Night Live’

On February 26, the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performed the song in the cold open of Saturday Night Live. The choir, which was established to preserve the musical culture of Ukraine, was dressed in traditional Ukrainian garb and sang before a table of candles that spelled “Kyiv.” Watch the performance below. 

The translated lyrics read:

Lord, O the Great and Almighty,
Protect our beloved Ukraine,
Bless her with freedom and light
Of your holy rays.

With learning and knowledge enlighten
Us, your children small,
In love pure and everlasting
Let us, oh Lord, grow.

We pray, O Lord Almighty,
Protect our beloved Ukraine,
Grant our people and country
All your kindness and grace.

Bless us with freedom, bless us with wisdom,
Guide into kind world,
Bless us, O Lord, with good fortune
For ever and evermore.

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