Protesters sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Trafalgar Square. (Picture: Lucy North/Alamy Live News)

Ukraine

Ukraine's National Anthem explained as soldiers share inspiring song online

Ukrainian national anthem is more relevant now than ever

 Protesters sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Trafalgar Square. (Picture: Lucy North/Alamy Live News)

Ukrainian troops have been sharing patriotic moments as a show of unity in the midst of Russia’s invasion as they sing their national anthem in posts on social media.

In one emotive video, soldiers are seen performing a rendition of the anthem next to what appears to be a bomb crater, said to have been caused by a Russian airstrike, while a violinist is seen playing to his solemn fellow soldiers in another post on social media.

These are just some of the renditions being shared online in support of Ukrainian forces as they battle against Russia’s military action against their country.

But what is it that makes Ukraine’s national anthem an inspiring rallying cry – what do the words mean in English and what is the anthem’s history?

@cbsnews Chilling video shows a woman crying and singing the Ukrainian national anthem as she sweeps up shattered glass after a bombing. #ukraine♬ original sound - cbsnews

Who wrote the Ukrainian National Anthem? 

In the autumn of 1862, the Ukrainian ethnographer, folklorist and poet Pavlo Chubinsky wrote the poem "Ukraine has not yet perished".

The poem later became the national and then the state anthem of the Ukrainian state, with famous composer and Greek Catholic priest Michail Berdinsky writing the music.

The poem was first published in the Lviv publication «Мета» meaning “Purpose” in 1863, becoming incredibly popular in the west of Ukraine.It wasn’t until 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the official music version was approved by the Supreme Council of Ukraine, known as the Verkhovna Rada, and the text was approved in 2003.

Composed in a time of struggle for the survival of Ukraine’s national spirit, the anthem was written to inspire the population to fight for their freedom and independence.

The powerful lyrics call on the Ukrainian brethren to fight for a better fate for Ukraine where they can rule over their own land.

During the 19th century, Ukrainian nationhood was supressed by the Russian Empire, with some parts of Ukraine being ruled by the Polish and Austrian aristocratic elite.  

The words ‘Our enemies will perish like morning dew’ are a foreboding and chilling threat to anyone who dares to invade Ukraine, and are as relevant now as they were when they were first written.

This makes the anthem a fitting symbol of unity that soldiers and civilians alike have been singing on battlefields, in bunkers and on the streets covered with rubble during the conflict.  

The above TikTok appears to show soldiers in Mariupol singing the national anthem. At the end of the video the soldier, in an emotional address to the viewers, thanks the world for supporting Ukraine.

He says that the truth is behind them and that they will win. His final words, which are echoed by his fellow soldiers are ‘Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!’

What are the lyrics to the Ukrainian national anthem?

The national anthem of Ukraine is based on the poem written in the mid-1800s. Translating poetry can be tricky, especially if written almost two centuries ago. A creative license is often heavily utilised when translating poetry into another language. While there are various versions of the Ukrainian national anthem, the translation below may not sound poetic in English, however, it is as close to a literal translation as possible.

Ukraine has not yet perished, her glory nor her freedom

Still, luck will smile upon us brothers Ukrainians.

Our enemies will perish like the morning dew

And we too brothers, will reign and prosper over our own land.

 

Soul, body we will lay down for our freedom

And we will show that brothers we are of Kozak kin

Brothers, we will stand in bloody battle from San to Don

We will not let anyone rule in our native land

The Black Sea will still smile, Grandfather Dnieper will rejoice,

Ukraine’s fate will blossom.

 

Soul, body we will lay down for our freedom

And we will show that brothers we are of Kozak kin

 

But perseverance, hard work will prove its worth,

A loud song will traverse our Ukraine

Echoed in the Carpathian mountains and over the steps, it will flow

The glory of Ukraine will be standing (will be known) among nations.