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'SNL' Opens Show With Emotional Ukrainian Chorus Performance In Powerful Display Of Solidarity

'SNL' Opens Show With Emotional Ukrainian Chorus Performance In Powerful Display Of Solidarity

For nearly a week now, most of us have had our eyes glued to our televisions and phones to keep up to date with the harrowing situation in Ukraine amidst the Russian invasion that began last Wednesday night.

And it seems the staff at Saturday Night Live have been no exception. In its live performance over the weekend, the iconic late-night comedy show forwent its usual raucous opening sketch, replacing it with an emotional tribute to Ukraine.

For the show's cold open, SNLenlisted New York's local Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York to kick off the show with a patriotic Ukrainian hymn, "Prayer for Ukraine," that left very few dry eyes among viewers. See the performance below--and have your tissues ready.

SNL cast members Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon completed the opening by delivering the usual show-opening line "Live from New York, it's Saturday night" in front of a bank of white candles spelling out the name of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as the audience sat in rapt and reverent silence.

Speaking to HuffPost, director of Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York Vasyl Hrechynsky explained the significance of the 1885 hymn the choir sang on SNL, which is also sometimes known as "God Bless Ukraine."

"It is a prayer to God to save Ukraine and to bless her with freedom, good faith and good fortune so that her people would love her for many, many years.”
“It has continued to be a way that we express our faith in God and that He will allow Ukraine to persevere especially in this most critical time of aggression and war."

It was a fitting tribute given the tensions and horrors of recent days as Ukrainians have fought back intensely to defend their country and the world has watched with anxiety as Russian President Vladimir Putin has escalated his rhetoric, including threats of nuclear retaliation towards both Ukraine and its allies.

It's no wonder, then, that people on Twitter were deeply moved by the choir's performance on SNL.

Talks about a ceasefire have begun today between Ukrainian and Russian in Russia-controlled Belarus. Here's hoping the talks bring an end to this invasion.