02 March 2022

The Prayer for Ukraine

Visiting Lviv to give a lecture at the Ukrainian Catholic University in 2016, I was very moved to hear this sung in the midst of a concert of spiritual and cultural music of many Ukrainian traditions. The whole audience silently stood up as soon as it began; and I was told that it was immensely significant to Ukrainian people of all faiths, for the sake of the "Heavenly Hundred", those innocent people killed at the Euromaidan Revolution of Dignity in 2014, when the Ukrainian people brought about the removal of a corrupt regime and insisted on their liberty to pursue their own free, democratic European future. Since then, I have continued to be moved when I have served at the Divine Liturgy on Sundays at the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in London. It is not the national anthem, but it is the national hymn and prayer. Originally, it was written for a chorus of children, and perhaps that is why the generations have continued to take it to their hearts. Perhaps it is like "Jerusalem" for someone from England, except that in the past, and hopefully not in the future, singing it was forbidden and could come with imprisonment and torture for supposed treason.

The Prayer for Ukraine on YouTube

It is not my own nation's song, but I sing it in solidarity with my friends and the people whom I have come to love very dearly, and whom I love to serve and worship with. I can only imagine what they are feeling and going through; and I have shed many tears for them and with them. For those who wish to sing it with Ukrainians in the same spirit, but in English, I provide a verse translation below. God protect Ukraine with His shield and His love.

The Prayer for Ukraine

Oleksandr Konysky (1836-1900) to music by Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912)

Боже великий, єдиний,
Нам Україну храни,
Волі і світу промінням
Ти її осіни.

Світлом науки і знання
Нас, дітей, просвіти,
В чистій любові до краю,
Ти нас, Боже, зрости.

Молимось, Боже єдиний,
Нам Україну храни,
Всі свої ласки й щедроти
Ти на люд наш зверни.

Дай йому волю, дай йому долю,
Дай доброго світу, щастя,
Дай, Боже, народу
І многая, многая літа.


Bozhe velykyi, yedynyi,
Nam Ukrainu khrany,
Voli i svitu prominnyam,
Ty yii osiny.

Svitlom na-uky i znannya
Nas, ditey, prosvity,
V chystii liubovi kraiu,
Ty nas, Bozhe, zrosty.

Molymos', Bozhe yedynyi,
Nam Ukrainu khrany,
Vsi svoi lasky y shchedroty,
Ty na liud nash zverny.

Dai yomu voliu, dai yomu doliu,
Dai dobroho svitu, shchastia,
Dai, Bozhe, narodu
I mnohaia, mnohaia lita.


Lord, God alone, the Almighty,
Hold our Ukraine in your hand;
Shine with the rays of your glory
Liberty on our land.
Lighten our learning and wisdom,
Keep your children in your heart;
Love that is pure for our homeland,
Lord our God, now impart. 
Merciful God, the Almighty,
Guard our Ukraine in your care.
Turn to our people and country,
Send your grace at our prayer.
Grant us our freedom, grant us our future,
Guide all our endeavour;
Bless us, God, our land and people,
And grant [us] many, man[y] years, for ever.

Translation © Mark Woodruff (1959- ). Freely available with acknowledgement on Creative Commons basis.

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