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Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia – National Anthem of Ukraine

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Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i voliaNational Anthem of Ukraine (piano and vocal with sheet music). Adopted: 1992 (music), 2003 (lyrics).

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“Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia” (Ukrainian: Ще не вмерла України і слава, і воля, pronounced [ˈʃtʃɛ nɛ ˈu̯mɛrlɐ ʊkrɐˈjinɪ i ˈslɑwɐ i ˈwɔlʲɐ], lit. ’The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished’), also known by its official title of “State Anthem of Ukraine” (Державний Гімн України, Derzhavnyi Himn Ukrainy) or by its shortened form “Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy” (Ще не вмерла України, lit. ’Ukraine has not yet perished’), is the national anthem of Ukraine. It is one of the state symbols of the country.

The lyrics constitute a slightly modified version of the first stanza of a patriotic poem written in 1862 by the poet Pavlo Chubynsky, a prominent ethnographer from Kyiv.

In 1863, Mykhailo Verbytsky, a western Ukrainian composer and Greek-Catholic priest, composed music to accompany Chubynsky’s text. The first choral performance of the piece was at the Ukraine Theatre in Lviv, in 1864.

National Anthem of Ukraine sheet music

In the first half of the 20th century, during unsuccessful attempts to gain independence and create a state from the territories of the Russian Empire, Poland, and Austria-Hungary, the song was the national anthem of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, and Carpatho-Ukraine.

A competition was held for a national anthem following Ukraine’s secession from the Soviet Union, with one of the songs being “Za Ukrajinu” (English: “For Ukraine”) by the Ukrainian writer and actor Mykola Voronyi. “Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia” was officially adopted by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on 15 January 1992. The official lyrics were adopted on 6 March 2003 by the Law on the Anthem of Ukraine (Закон про Гімн України).

The Ukrainian national anthem can be traced back to one of the parties of the Ukrainian ethnographer and poet Pavlo Chubynsky that occurred during the autumn of 1862. Scholars think that the Polish national song “Poland Is Not Yet Lost” (“Polish: Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła”), which dates back to 1797, and which later became the national anthem of Poland and the Polish Legions, also had an influence on Chubynsky’s lyrics. “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” was popular among the nations of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that were at that time fighting for their independence; the January Uprising started a few months after Chubynsky wrote his lyrics.

Chubynsky’s words were rapidly taken up by the earliest Ukrainophiles. In 1862 , the head gendarm Prince Vasily Dolgorukov exiled Chubynsky to Arkhangelsk Governorate for the “dangerous influence on the minds of commoners”.

The poem was first officially published in 1863, when it appeared in the fourth issue of the Lviv journal Meta. It became popular in the territories which now form part of Western Ukraine, and came to the attention of a member of the Ukrainian clergy, Mykhailo Verbytsky of the Greek-Catholic Church. Inspired by Chubynsky’s poem, Verbytsky, then a prominent composer in Ukraine, decided to set it to music. The poem was first published with Verbytsky’s sheet music In 1865. The first choral performance of the piece was in 1864 at the Ukraine Theatre in Lviv.

The first recording of this anthem (then spelled “Szcze ne wmerła Ukrajiny ni sława ni wola”) in Ukrainian was released on a vinyl record by Columbia Phonograph Company during World War I in 1916. As a folk song it was performed by a Ukrainian emigrant from Lviv and New York resident Mychajlo Zazulak in 1915.

Ukraine’s anthem during the Soviet period

In 1922, the Ukrainian SSR signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR with the Russian SFSR, Transcaucasian SFSR and Byelorussian SSR, which created the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Following the signing of the treaty, the anthem was immediately banned by the Soviet regime. The authorities later decided that each separate Soviet republic could have its own anthem, but Shche ne vmerla Ukraina was rejected in an attempt to help to suppress separatist sentiments held by Ukrainian Nationalists. In 1939, “Szcze ne wmerła Ukrajina” was adopted as the official state anthem of Carpatho-Ukraine.

Soviet leaders instead wanted an anthem that would evoke emotions of Ukraine being a fraternal republic within the USSR, which was “equal among equals, free among the free”. It necessarily had to mention the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which was leading Ukraine towards communism. They chose Pavlo Tychyna’s version of “Zhyvy, Ukraino, prekrasna i syľna”, which become the official anthem of the Ukrainian SSR in 1949, and remained the republic’s anthem until 1991. Unpopular among Ukrainians, the anthem of the USSR was played instead during nearly all official events in Ukraine during the communist era.

Post-independence

The popularity of the Ukrainian anthem has become particularly high in the wake of the Orange Revolution protests of 2004 and Euromaidan of 2013. Ukrainian composer Valentyn Sylvestrov, who participated in Ukrainian protests in Kyiv, characterized the Ukrainian anthem thus:

The Ukrainian anthem is amazing. At first it doesn't impress you at all, but that's only at first glance. Indeed, this anthem was created by Mykhailo Verbytsky, clerical composer of the mid-19th century. He lived under the Austrian monarchy, probably was fond of Schubert; he had an euphonic gift – it's clear from his liturgical compositions. He was a church composer. And this patriotic song, he created as a church composer. This chant is a Hallelujah. No other anthem has this! It's a unique piece: the anthem of Ukraine, which at the same time has all characteristic features of a liturgy's beginning. Some memory of a liturgy, of an all-night vigil, has submerged in this anthem. It seems as if wind blows in this simple chant, as if tree branches are singing.

Euromaidan to present

During the Euromaidan protests of 2013, the anthem became a revolutionary song for the protesters. In the early weeks of the protests, they sang the national anthem once an hour, led by singer Ruslana.

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many orchestras in Europe and North America performed the anthem in solidarity with Ukraine and its people.

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