“Hey Hey Rise Up”: Pink Floyd revived Ukrainian military anthem

Article by: Orysia Hrudka

Editor’s NoteThe anthem of the historical Ukrainian Sich Riflemen inspired Pink Floyd to release its first brand new song in 28 years. German singer Marlaine Maas performed it in four European languages. And the song “Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna” itself comes from Ukrainian folk song tradition. In 2022, the song became as inspiring as never before.

German singer Marlaine Maas is the first artist to perform a cover of the anthem of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen “Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna” in other languages. Along with the original Ukrainian version, she sang it in German, English, and French.

“I was deeply touched by this song and it definitely raised my spirit. Then suddenly I had this idea of making a European version of it, so that many people all over the world would understand the soul of this song and get their spirits lifted too. All royalties from this song will be used to support Ukraine of course!…Thank you so much for Andriy Khlyvnyuk & The Kiffness – for your creation of this Ukrainian folk song. You made me cry for hours and were the origin and Inspiration to my rendition.”

A theater song that became the military anthem

The first version of the song was performed in 1914 by a Ukrainian theater troupe Rus Conversarion (1864–1924), which traveled to various Ukrainian cities of the Austro-Hungarian empire and helped to spread the song. It was written for the play The Sun of Ruines by Vasyl Pachovskyy, described by its author as “the tragedy of the Ukrainian Cossack State.” The play’s main character is the Ukrainian Hetman Petro Doroshenko.

For the play, the director Stepan Charnetskyy changed the text of the Ukrainian Cossack folk song Steep Banks Spilt (Rozlylysia kruti berezhechky). Charnetskyy left only the last verse unchanged, and it became the first verse of “Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna.”

The other three verses were written by a member of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen Hryhoriy Trukh in August 1914 and soon became the regiment’s anthem.

The Ukrainian Sich Riflemen was the first Austro-Hungarian Ukrainian unit and later became one of the first regular military units of the Ukrainian People’s Army. It operated from 1917 to 1919 and was formed by Ukrainian soldiers and former officers of the Austro-Hungarian army, as well as the local population. The first unit was created in Kyiv by Col. Yevhen Konovalets with Andriy Melnyk being his chief of staff. The regiment was formed by the call of the Supreme Ukrainian Council; the first volunteers were members of Ukrainian paramilitary organizations, such as the Sich societies, which rejuvenated the ideas of the Cossack Zaporozhian Sich, as well as Sokil and Plast (Scout) Ukrainian Youth Associations. The regiment had up to 25,000 men at its peak.

The legion fought in the First World War and then for Ukrainian independence. During the German and Austro-Hungarian occupation of Ukraine in 1918, the unit was stationed in southern Ukraine. In 1919, the regiment grew in size and became the Ukrainian Galician Army.

In June 1914, the troupe of the Ukrainian Theater sang “Oh in the Meadow” in Chortkiv. The captain of Sich Riflemen Ivan Kossak wrote:

“The Sich Riflemen that were formed in Chortkiv went for the exercises with that song, then went to the main gathering place in Stryy, and then to Hungary. My sotnya (a one-hundred men unit – Ed.) sang this song in Horonda, and other sotnyas, and kurins (larger units – Ed.), and the whole regiment took over from it. The new content, riflemen content, was created by the riflemen themselves during the first two weeks of their stay in Horonda”

According to Volodymyr Hordiyenko’s work “Ukrainian Sich Riflemen,” the music for the song was written by Mykhaylo Haivoronsky, a famous Ukrainian composer and author of many Riflemen songs. Some musicologists (Filaret Kolessa, Vasyl Vytvytskyy) consider the song to be a folk song. In particular, they claim that this was the motif of the folk song “Oh, the Red Viburnum Bloomed over the Well.”

Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna

In 1929, Yevhen Konovalets, the founder of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, founded the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. It had a different anthem called “Great Time We Were Born” (English translation available here). The video features footage of the military parade in Lviv.

Great Time We Were Born

Singing “Kalyna:” Pink Floyd, Andriy Khlyvniuk, and other Ukrainian artists

Oh in the Meadow” became popular worldwide after Andriy Khlyvniuk, frontman of the Ukrainian rock band BoomBox, sang it at the empty St. Sophia square in Kyiv just a few days after the Russian invasion (and a few days later Khlyvniuk enrolled in the territorial defense.)

The South African group The Kiffness (David Scott) recorded a remix of the song. Later, Ukrainian singers and bands recorded their performances, with the video currently being shown on Ukrainian television instead of advertising.

At the beginning of April 2022, Pink Floyd reunited to support Ukraine. “Hey Hey, Rise Up!,” a new single by Pink Floyd featuring Andriy Khlyvnyuk is the first Pink Floyd brand new song in 28 years.

Pink Floyd’s guitarist and singer David Gilmour saw Khlyvnyuk’s performance online and then got in contact with him. In an interview with the Guardian, Gilmour said:

“It’s a really difficult and frustrating thing to see this extraordinarily crazy, unjust attack by a major power on an independent, peaceful, democratic nation. The frustration of seeing that and thinking ‘what the fuck can I do?’ is sort of unbearable.

…I thought, also, that my and Pink Floyd’s support of the Ukrainians could help boost morale in those areas: they need to know the whole world supports them.”

All proceeds from the release go to Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund. Gilmour has an extended Ukrainian family, and he told The Guardian that it influenced his decision to help Ukraine.

“My grandchildren are half-Ukrainian, my daughter-in-law Janina is Ukrainian.”–Gilmour said.

David Gilmour performed live with BoomBox in 2015, at the London benefit gig for the Belarus Free Theater.

Pink Floyd music, from 1987 onwards, and all of David Gilmour’s solo recordings, are being removed from all digital music providers in Russia and Belarus from March 11.

“To stand with the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” @pinkfloyd

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 11, 2022

Before the release, Pink Floyd removed all its songs from streaming services in Russia and Belarus (except for some works from the 1960s and 1970s, possibly due to a former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, who had left Pink Floyd and whose relations with his former bandmates are strained.) A week before Russia invaded Ukraine, Waters told RT that talk of a Russian invasion was “bullshit.” Gilmour commented on the situation to The Guardian saying “Let’s just say I was disappointed and let’s move on.”

Gilmour told The Guardian about one of his conversations with Khlyvniuk that took place at the beginning of April:

“He [Khlyvniuk] said he had the most hellish day you could imagine, going out and picking up bodies of Ukrainians, Ukrainian children, helping with the clearing up. You know, our little problems become so pathetic and tiny in the context of what you see him doing.”

Other performances of “Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna” 

People perform the song at Kyiv’s Zoloti subway station, 28 November 2014.

A little Ukrainian boy who fled to the west of Ukraine because of Russia’s aggression, sings the song, 31 March 2022. More performances of the song by Ukrainian children in this video.

In Warsaw, a priest invited parishioners to sing the Ukrainian song together. 19 April 2022.

The song “Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna” performed on the Kazakh dombra by Kyuyshi Aigul Ulkenbayeva.

Песня “Ой у лузі червона калина” на казахской домбре, исполняет кюйши Айгуль Улкенбаева #украина #казахстан #путин #Ukraine #RussianUkrainianWar @antiputler_news @SNurpeis pic.twitter.com/6rABZKPTMh

— Serik Aitbaev (@SerikAitbaev) April 20, 2022

Performance by Boyan Chorus. Footage from 2015 documentary-feature film “Legion. Chronicle of the Ukrainian Galician Army 1918-1919

“Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna” with footage from the times of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen

Some Ukrainian songs about the war often mention kalyna. Artists explain why kalyna is one of the important Ukrainian national symbols:

“Oh in the Meadow a Red Kalyna” lyrics

In the meadow, there a red kalyna has bent down low,
For some reason, our glorious Ukraine has been worried so.
And we’ll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
And we’ll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

Do not bend low, Oh red kalyna, You have a white flower.
Do not worry, glorious Ukraine, You have a free people.
And we’ll take that red kalyna and will raise it up,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
And we’ll take that red kalyna and will raise it up,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

Marching forward, our fellow volunteers, into a bloody fray,
For to free our brother – Ukrainians, from hostile chains.
And we, our brother – Ukrainians, we will then liberate,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
And we, our brother – Ukrainians, we will then liberate,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

Oh in the field, of early spring wheat, there’s a golden furrow,
Then began, the Ukrainian riflemen to, engage the enemy,
And we’ll take, that precious, early wheat and will gather it,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
And we’ll take, that precious, early wheat and will gather it,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

When the stormy winds blow forth from the wide steppes,
They will glorify, throughout Ukraine, the Sich riflemen.
And we’ll take the glory of the riflemen preserving it,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
And we’ll take the glory of the riflemen preserving it,
And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

Source: https://lyricstranslate.com

(c) EuromaidanPress

6 comments

    • Yes it’s a wonderful song from the rich Ukrainian folk tradition.
      The Floyd collaboration got 8m+ views, which is pretty good.
      Gilmour has Ukrainians in his family.
      Another good one is Balls of Iron, which has some big names on it too.

      Also Ukrainian folk-rock band Hutsul Planet from Karpatiya are very good.

      But my favourite happy Ukrainian song is Pidmanula. My dream is to return to a peaceful Ukraine and see it performed by a beautiful troupe of folkloric dancers.

      Liked by 4 people

        • Calming and beautiful.
          My father taught me to read A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens and watch the Alistair Sim version of the film every year, to get into the correct Christmas spirit. (It is shown every year on Channel 5).
          I still do those things, but I also listen to Shchedryk as soon as the season starts. I usually put a version on FB every year too. Along with Run Run Rudolph by Chuck Berry and Little Saint Nick, by The Beach Boys.
          Let’s hope and pray for peace in Ukraine long, long before Christmas comes around again.

          Liked by 3 people

  1. I admit that this song is perhaps my favorite national anthem. Currently, I’m (trying) to learn the words for it, of course, in Ukrainian.

    Liked by 3 people

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