As the people of Ukraine face war, believers across the country, including many evangelicals, still come together to worship the Lord wherever they are.
In the international media, we have seen images and heard reports of people praying – crowded to intercede in public squares and underground bunkers – as well as taking refuge in churches and singing in public places. Their perseverance in the midst of tribulation testifies to the power of prayer and praise in the darkest of times.
Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, most Ukrainian worship music has consisted of Western praise songs translated into Ukrainian. But as an American teacher, missionary, and worship leader who makes regular teaching trips to Ukraine, I am part of a growing movement encouraging the creation of original Ukrainian worship music, written by and for Ukrainians, including songs represented in this Spotify playlist.
I hope that one day Western Christians will start translating Ukrainian songs and singing them in English. As we gather in church this Sunday, let this be a reminder to ‘Pray for Ukraine.’
1. “God the Great!” (Prayer for Ukraine)
This is the “national spiritual anthem” of Ukraine, МОЛИТВА ЗА УКРАЇНУ, a familiar anthem to most Ukrainians. This version has a video with views from many different parts of the nation. The English 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
We, your grandchildren,
In pure and eternal love
Make us grow, Lord.
We pray, O Almighty Lord,
Protect our beloved Ukraine,
Give our people and our country
All your kindness and grace.
Bless us with freedom, bless us with wisdom,
Guide in the kind world,
Bless us, oh Lord, with good fortune
Forever and ever.
2. “Over to You”, by Andriy Hryfel
This song is called “до Теье”, which means “To you”, which is a pretty well-known song, especially in evangelical circles. The artist, Andriy Hryfel, was a prominent young leader, pastor/elder, worship leader and songwriter who died suddenly last year. The translated lyrics are as follows:
I run to You Lord, I run to Your Lord.
The warmth of your hands restores faith in my every step
Your grace gives me the strength to go
You are my wisdom, in you I can go through everything.
I wanted you all my life
I can’t wait to meet you in paradise
To you my love, to you my paths,
I still obey you to keep my faith.
I want you like a baby wants its mother,
As the arid land longs for rain, I long for You.
I look at you when I’m exhausted in the struggle,
I pray to You, for I believe my victory is in You,
I stand on the Word, this world won’t defeat your love
I love you, I live for you, you are my God.
3. “I will sing”, by Maria Kuchurian and Diana Yakovyn
It’s a more recent song, written by two recent seminary graduates, that just won a national award for worship music. Here are the lyrics in English:
He is the One who uplifts and surrounds with peace.
His love is great! I will cling to Him.
When the heart is heavy, He removes the stone,
Sweet hugs. O my holy Jesus!
I will sing, I will sing, I will sing to the Risen King!
His hand is with me. He’s near, here, I know
I feel in my heart, I pray!
He warms up with love and wipes away the tears
Faithful friend forever. His name is Jesus!
You chose me and set me up, You chose me, raised me!
You chose me and forgave me, You chose me, You raised me!
You chose me and filled me, You chose me, you raised me!
4. “The Lord’s Prayer”
The Lord’s Prayer unites Ukrainian Christians, including those of the Orthodox Church, which is the country’s majority religious tradition. At any interfaith gathering, everyone stands to pray it together as an act of worship. This frame is from an Orthodox Easter liturgy.
5. “Powerful to Save”, by Hillsong Ukraine
The Hillsong song “Mighty to Save”, which was released in 2006, has been sung in Ukraine for almost as long. The video above was recorded just about a day ago, showing students worshiping together with the lights off, as the battle for Kiev began a few miles away.
Significantly, this is sung in Russian, not Ukrainian. It is very important to note that not everyone who speaks the Russian language is Russian, despite the propaganda there. They are real Ukrainians who speak Russian. Most Ukrainians are functionally bilingual to one degree or another.
Fred Heumann runs MusicWorks International and since 2012 has worked alongside a seminary in Kyiv, Ukraine, teaching students and partnering in conferences for worship leaders.