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Ukraine has not yet perished, but should words to its anthem?

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Aug. 20, 2008, 6:44 p.m. |
“Ukraine has not yet perished” But this, the most recognized and controversial opening lyric to the country’s national anthem, may be headed to the graveyard, if a new and more optimistic version catches on ew and more optimistic version catches on.

Oleh Skrypka, a popular Ukrainian folk and rock musician, has written up new lyrics for an old song that sounds, to some, too much like a dirge.

Skrypka will sing his version of the anthem on Aug. 23 on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the day before Ukraine celebrates its 17th anniversary as an independent nation.

Skrypka, who has in recent years turned into a leading proponent for reviving lost Ukrainian traditions and folklore, is not pushing his version per se.

But he does want to start a discussion – and offer what he says is a more upbeat alternative.

In a Kyiv Post interview, Skrypka said the idea of writing new lyrics emerged gradually, after his band – Vopli Vidopliasova – started regularly performing the anthem.

“We frequently heard that the words are pessimistic, archaic, etc.,” Skrypka said. “So we announced a contest. We received many versions for the anthem’s lyrics.”

Although Skrypka would not reveal the entire set of new lyrics before his official presentation on Aug. 23, he called his new version positive and light.

He gave the Post a sample.

Replaced will be the infamous lyric: “Ukraine’s glory hasn’t perished, nor her freedom/Upon us, fellow compatriots, fate shall smile once more.”

The Skrypka band suggests replacing this with: “Our dear Ukraine is flourishing like a spring field/We are glorious Ukrainians; we’ve got a happy fate.”

Originally, both the lyrics and the melody of Ukraine’s present anthem “Ukraine hasn’t perished yet” were written in the second half of the 19th Century by Pavlo Chubynsky and Mykhaylo Verbytsky, respectively. The lyrics were later modified and shortened to the current version.

While Verbytsky’s music was officially adopted in 1992, only 11 years later did Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, pass the law approving Chubynsky’s modified lyrics.

The current anthem does have its supporters, as well as detractors who criticize it for its pessimism and outdated content.

The anthem is “essentially destructive,” said Volodymyr Cherevatenko, a Kharkiv songwriter who has submitted his personal version on several Internet forums. “It is an ordinary revolutionary song of the past times. But everything has changed and [now independent] Ukraine faces new tasks and challenges.”

Skrypka, however, said he is not certain that the present anthem needs to be replaced.

“It’s an old song. It’s like a historical monument, and it’s beautiful,” Skrypka said. “But the country is developing, times change. Maybe we should change the anthem.”

Skrypka insisted his aim is not to campaign for his version.

“I am raising this issue up for discussion,” he said.

“I am a rock musician and I’m more inclined to unite people around a common idea, to boost peoples’ creativity. As for my personal ambitions, when the issue of rewriting Ukraine’s anthem is put forth, I’m sure there will be many ‘national artists’ eager to perform this task and some may even do it pretty well. But in order for that to happen, there should be an emotional movement among the people.”

Skrypka’s anthem performance on Aug. 23 is part of a karaoke party, involving the public to sing the national anthem. The musician will also release two CDs, one containing both the original and rehashed version of the anthem versions, and the second will contain the anthem in karaoke format.
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Anonymous Jan. 10, 2009, 1:52 p.m.    

“Our dear Ukraine is flourishing like a spring field/We are glorious Ukrainians; we’ve got a happy fate.” As Ukraine is a Christian nation, this is much better. Don't forget to thank the Lord of Peace in song :) Well done Mr. Skrypka!

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Anonymous Jan. 11, 2009, 4:52 a.m.    

Blasphemy!

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Anonymous Jan. 11, 2009, 5:14 a.m.    

It's not blasphemy unless you worship at the altar of blood and soil -- in which case, you'd be a pagan. With all the attention to death and suffering; and with mausoleum-building at a fever pitch over those who died under Stalin, a little light is welcome.

This may be news to a beaten generation, still bent on their pound of flesh, but young people do better with hope than they do with morbid nostalgia. Who would want to raise children in a place where the national unifying myth is "we ate each other?"

"A chicken in every pot" would do more to get the nation going. Ukrainians should speak Ukrainian and Russian and Chinese and German and English and French and Spanish and participate fully in a world hungry for talented and ambitious people. This ethnic ghetto-building is idiocy and the sooner we leave the 19th century behind, the better. The young and educated have a choice of where they will work and live. With the current direction, they are not choosing to live in Ukraine.

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Anonymous Jan. 20, 2009, 3:08 a.m.    

I suggest keeping "Ukraine has not yet perished..." The reason is that it is an portent of what is to come if brain-dead Yushchenko and his merry band of idiots continue along their destructive path.

Of course, as long as Yulia and Vitya are also around and also bark and bite each other and to steal what they can along with their slavish minions then it is just about certain that the words should change to "Ukraine will certainly perish"

It is painfully a truth that the poltical elite at all levels are nothing but thieves, liars and the worst scum and care nothing about the ordinary citizen.

If Ukrainians do not wake up and clean house utterly and completely, the future will be very very ugly.

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