Scotland v Ukraine: How to sing the Ukrainian National Anthem, what does it mean and who wrote it?

While the majority of Scots will be cheering on their national team this evening, it’s certainly a game like no other for the Tartan Army.

Scotland's John McGinn wears an armband with the Ukrainian colours during the international friendly against Poland in March (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)
Scotland's John McGinn wears an armband with the Ukrainian colours during the international friendly against Poland in March (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

Playing a Ukraine team whose country is currently under invasion by hostile Russian forces, there will understandably be a great deal of sympathy with those on the opposing team.

In fact, former Scottish player Graham Souness has even said he will be supporting the Ukrainians as the teams face off at Hampden Park to decide who will take on Wales for a spot in the World Cup Finals.

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While few fans would go as far as Souness – Scotland haven’t made it to the World Cup Finals since 1998 after all – many are planning on singing along with both national anthems before the game in a show of support.

So, here’s what the anthem is, what it means, and how to sing along.

What is the National Anthem of Ukraine?

Formally known as simply the ‘State Anthem of Ukraine’ it also goes by its native title ‘Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy’, which translates into English as ‘Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished’.

Consisting of just one verse and one chorus, it was adopted after a competition to find an anthem following the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, with the melody officially accepted in 1992 by Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

It had previously been used in the first half of the 20th century as the anthem of the Ukrainian People's Republic, who unsuccessfully attempted to create an independent state consisting of parts of the then Russian Empire, Poland, and Austria-Hungary.

Where do the lyrics and melody come from?

The lyrics are a modified version of the first stanza of a patriotic poem written in 1862 by Pavlo Chubynsky, an ethnographer from Kyiv.

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In 1863, Mykhailo Verbytsky, a western Ukrainian composer and priest, composed the accompanying music and it was first performed at the Ukraine Theatre, in Lviv, in 1864.

In 2003 then-president Leonid Kuchma enshrined the anthem’s lyrics in law, changing a line of the verse from the poet’s original ‘Ukraine has not yet died, neither her glory, nor her freedom’, to ‘Ukraine’s glory has not yet died, nor her freedom’.

The lyrics are a reminder to Ukrainians about their country's struggle for national self-identity and independence.

What are the original lyrics to the Ukrainian National Anthem?

In Ukranian, the lyrics are as follows:

Ще не вмерла України і слава, і воля,Ще нам, браття молодії, усміхнеться доля.Згинуть наші воріженьки, як роса на сонці.Запануєм і ми, браття, у своїй сторонці.

Душу й тіло ми положим за нашу свободу,І покажем, що ми, браття, козацького роду.

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What are the lyrics to the Ukrainian National Anthem in English?

The English translation is as follows:

The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not yet perishedLuck will still smile on us brother-Ukrainians.Our enemies will die, as the dew does in the sunshine,and we, too, brothers, we'll live happily in our land.

We’ll not spare either our souls or bodies to get freedomand we’ll prove that we brothers are of Kozak kin.

How can I sing the anthem in Ukrainian?

Language learning app Duolingo are distributing flyers containing the anthem’s lyrics spelt phonetically, making it easier for Scots to join in.

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They are as follows:

Verse One

Shen nerve maare-low oo-cry-enee

nee slarva nee vo-l-yah

Shen nan-bra-tsya mow-lo deeyee

ooh smee nets aah do-l-yah

Z-heen noot naaaa-dhi vo-o-o ri shenkee

yak ro-sah na so-ont-see

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Zapa nooo-yem ee-ee me brat yah

oo Svor yee sto-ro-ont-see


Doo-shoe teelo me polo-ooo-o shem

za nasha svo bo-doo

Ee poka shem sho me bra-at yah

kozats koho roh-du.

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