Watch Saturday Night Live’s Powerful Ode to Ukraine

The first show after a hiatus felt a little different.

Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performs Prayer for Ukraine on Saturday Night Live on February 26.Saturday Night Live/YouTube

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Each day since Thursday, in the wee morning hours, air sirens shatter any semblance of quiet on the streets of Kyiv, Ukraine. Missiles rip through the air, and explosions mark a new day as Russian troops, at the behest of President Vladimir Putin, invade and attempt to remove its government leadership.

So what stood out during Saturday Night Live’s ode to Ukraine last night—its first show after a hiatus—was silence. Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong walked onto the stage of Studio 8H and paused before introducing the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, a troupe that started back in the 1940s to “preserve and cultivate the rich musical heritage of Ukraine,” according to Ukrainian Weekly

They sang the religious hymn, “Prayer for Ukraine,” composed by Mykola Lysenko in 1885. Their collective voices tore through the quiet on Saturday night and, in Ukrainian, they asked for a blessing of freedom and protection. After, the cameras panned to an arrangement of candles that spelled “Kyiv,” the center of an invasion currently unfolding and a place that, as of now, remains under Ukrainian control. 

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