Speed Reads

A prayer for Ukraine

Ukrainian chorus performs hymn in solemn SNL cold open

After a monthlong hiatus for the Winter Olympics, Saturday Night Live returned Saturday with a solemn and moving tribute to Ukraine's ongoing struggle against Russian aggression.

The broadcast began with Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong standing side by side. "Ladies and gentlemen: the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York," they said, Strong beginning the sentence and McKinnon finishing it. "Dumka" is a Ukrainian musical term for a short, often melancholic folk ballad.

The lights dimmed and the two cast members walked off stage as the camera pulled back, revealing a group of Ukrainian singers in traditional dress illuminated by soft candlelight.

The chorus performed a piece called "A Prayer for Ukraine," a patriotic hymn dating to the 19th century, NPR reported. According to one translation, the lyrics are as follows:

Lord, oh 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, oh 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 [us] into [a] kind world,

Bless us, oh Lord, with good fortune

For ever and evermore.