"SNL" Paid Tribute To The Ukrainian People With A Poignant Cold Open

Saturday Night Live led this week's show with an emotional performance from the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York.

“Prayer for Ukraine” performed by Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York

Twitter: @nbcsnl

Instead of its usual comedic cold open, Saturday Night Live led this week's show with a solemn choral rendition of the song “Prayer for Ukraine.”

After the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York finished their touching performance, SNL cast members Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong delivered the show's catchphrase, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night," in a more subdued tone than normal. They stood behind candles spelling out "Kyiv," the capital of Ukraine.

The hymn, written in 1885, became an anthem during Ukraine's war for independence. Its lyrics begin with “Lord, oh the Great and Almighty / Protect our beloved Ukraine / Bless her with freedom and light,” according to one translation.

The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York is made up of nonprofessional singers who perform classical, sacred, and folk choral music, mostly by Ukrainian composers.

The tribute came days after Russia invaded Ukraine and as fighting continued in cities across the country. In a statement posted on Facebook early Saturday, Viktor Liashko, Ukraine’s health minister, said at least 198 Ukrainians had been killed, including three children. At least 1,115 Ukrainians have been wounded, including 33 children, Liashko said.

The move from Russia drew immediate condemnation from the international community, which feared for the safety of Ukrainians who took up arms against the invasion, fled, or sought refuge in bomb shelters and subway stations.

Viewers on Twitter praised SNL for standing with the Ukrainian people.

Twitter: @shewanders2

@nbcsnl @donwinslow I said it before & I'll say it again, #SNL, that's the classiest opening I've ever seen you broadcast in all your years on air. There have been some terrific moments, but that ⤴️ was just beautiful. BRAVO! 🌻❤️🌻 #Ukrania #PrayerForUkraine #PrayersForUkraine #IStandWithUkraine

Twitter: @Dovebyrd

@nbcsnl Having sung this many times at the end of Ukrainian mass in my youth it brought tears to my eyes to see the wonderful @nbcsnl institution I have loved my whole life honor the Ukrainian sacrifice and stand united in the fight for a people and democracy to survive. Bravo!!

Twitter: @kernytsky

@nbcsnl You've made me cry. Watching from Australia and watching out for family in Ukraine. Thank you to everyone who's love and energy is surrounding Ukrainians. #StandWithUkraine #RussianWarshipGoFYourself #StopPutin

Twitter: @IiIac_s

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