As the people of Ukraine face war, believers across the country, including many evangelicals, are still gathering to worship the Lord wherever they are.
In international news outlets, we’ve seen images and heard reports of people praying—huddled to intercede in town squares and underground bunkers—as well as finding refuge in churches, and singing in public places. Their perseverance in the midst of tribulation is a testimony to the power of prayer and praise in the darkest of times.
Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, most Ukrainian worship music consisted of Western praise songs translated into Ukrainian. But as an American professor, missionary, and worship leader who makes regular teaching trips to Ukraine, I’m part of a rising movement encouraging the creation of original Ukrainian worship music—written by and for Ukrainians—including songs represented in this Spotify playlist.
My hope is that someday, 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 One!” (Prayer for Ukraine)
This is the “national spiritual anthem” of Ukraine, МОЛИТВА ЗА УКРАЇНУ, a hymn that is familiar to most Ukrainians. This version has a video with views of 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
Us, your children small,
In love pure and everlasting
Let us, oh Lord, grow.
We pray, oh Lord Almighty,
Protect our beloved Ukraine,
Grant our people and country
All your kindness and grace.
Bless us with freedom, bless us with wisdom,
Guide into kind world,
Bless us, oh Lord, with good fortune
For ever and evermore.
2. “To You,” by Andriy Hryfel
This song is titled “до Теье”, which means “To You,” which is a pretty well-known song, especially in evangelical circles. The artist, Andriy Hryfel, was a significant 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 have longed for you all my life
I look forward to meeting You in heaven
To Thee my love, To Thee my paths,
I obey you again to keep my faith.
I long for you as a baby longs for mother,
As the dry land longs for the rain, I long for You.
I look at you when I am exhausted in the struggle,
I pray to You, because I believe my victory is in You,
I stand on the Word, this world will not overcome Your love
I love you, I live for you, you are my God.
3. “I will Sing,” by Maria Kuchurian & Diana Yakovyn
This is a newer song, written by two recent seminary graduates, which just won a national award for worship music. Here are the lyrics in English:
He is the One who lifts up and surrounds with peace.
His love is great! I will hold on to Him.
When the heart is heavy, He takes away the stone,
Gently 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 to Him!
He warms with love and wipes away tears
Loyal Friend forever. His name is Jesus!
You chose me and set me up, You chose me, raised me up!
You chose me and forgave me, You chose me, raised me!
You chose me and filled me, You chose me, raised me!
4. “The Lord’s Prayer”
The Lord’s Prayer unites Ukrainian Christians, including those in the Orthodox Church, which is the majority religious tradition in the country. At any interdenominational gathering, everyone stands to pray it together as an act of worship. This setting is from an Orthodox Easter liturgy.
5. “Mighty to Save,” by Hillsong Ukraine
The Hillsong song “Mighty to Save,” which came out in 2006, has been sung in Ukraine for almost that long. The video above was recorded just a day or so ago, showing students worshiping together with the lights out—as the battle for Kyiv began not many miles away.
Significantly, this is being sung in Russian, not Ukrainian. It is very important to note that not everyone who speaks the Russian language is Russian, despite the propaganda out there. These are true Ukrainians who happen to speak Russian. Most Ukrainians are functionally bilingual to one extent or another.
Fred Heumann heads MusicWorks International and since 2012 has been working alongside a seminary in Kyiv, Ukraine, teaching students and partnering in conferences for worship leaders.