Thursday, August 21, 2008

Should the words in Ukraine's national anthem be updated?

I was glad to read in a recent article that many modern Ukrainians think so, and that the front man of one of Ukraine's most popular rock bands is leading the charge.

... 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...

Full article here.

Being a traditionalist and history buff, I agree that the current lyrics are revolutionary and have historical significance and all. But the reality is that they are outdated.

In the 21st century, the populace in developed and developing countries are better educated, more optimistic, and generally empowered as a result. With that comes a positive, "can-do" level of confidence that is unprecedented (at least in modern history).

I can see the defiance of the opening lyrics "Ukraine has not yet perished" as being positive for 19th century and perhaps even 20th century Ukrainians. Those were grim times in which they were hanging on to their national existence by a thread. The sentiment understandably trickled down to the individual level, too, given the devastation of foreign occupation in modern history.

But in the 21st century, Ukraine is in a better position ... corrupt oligarch leaders notwithstanding. The people are demanding better leadership and accountability from their politicians, and are forming international alliances on both the official and grassroots levels.

So perhaps it's time for the national anthem to reflect that changing mindset? Ukraine won't be the first (young) country to update its anthem and fine-tune the lyrics. Canada went through that process as well, and I suspect that as long as a country is growing and thriving, that process will be ongoing!


Stanislav said...

Well, personally I am open for new waves and ready for quickly changing World. I wanna see the lyrics from Oleh Skrypka... "We've just got learned Ukrainian anthem and here we go.. new lyrics" would say number of conservative Ukrainians :-)

Pawlina said...


But I'm also curious to see Skrypka's lyrics. said...

Pre-2003: "Ukraine has not yet perished"

Post-2003: "Ukraine's glory has not perished, nor her freedom"

Pawlina said...

Thanks for the clarification, Vitaliy. Now that you mention it, I think I knew that (once) but obviously forgot.

However, I think the point of changing the lyrics is to replace the sentiment of not perishing with one of flourishing... again, losing the negative connotation and switching to a positive one.

I know that the negative (and sometimes double negative) construction is common in the Ukrainian language and being no linguist my analysis could be way off. But, that's my best guess!

Thanks for stopping in. Great blog you have, btw! I'll be adding it to my blogroll.

Hope to hear from you again soon!