‘SNL’ sends prayers to Kyiv with moving performance from Ukrainian choir

A choir of people singing and holding folders of music
Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performs on “Saturday Night Live.”
(Will Heath / NBC)

“Saturday Night Live” opened this weekend with a moving choral tribute to Ukraine as invading Russian forces continued to push toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Instead of a humorous cold-open sketch, “SNL” began on a serious note with a powerful performance from a local choir. The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York sang “Prayer for Ukraine” on a stage adorned with sunflowers — the besieged country’s national flower.

At the end of the harmonious a cappella performance, the camera panned down to reveal a table of white candles that spelled out “Kyiv,” as “SNL” cast members Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon solemnly announced: “Live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night.’”


The heartfelt homage comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion in Ukraine, prompting Ukrainian soldiers and citizens alike to fight against missiles, heavy artillery and cyberattacks since Thursday.

During this week’s installment of “SNL” — hosted by comedian John Mulaney with musical guest LCD Soundsystem — “Weekend Update” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che did not shy away from commenting on the harrowing siege unfolding in Ukraine.

Russia pressed ahead with its assault on neighboring Ukraine on Thursday, with explosions resounding in cities across the country, airstrikes crippling its defenses and reports of troops crossing the border by land and sea.Map: Tracking the invasion of Ukraine | How to help: California organizations supporting Ukraine | What our foreign correspondents are seeing in Ukraine | Photos: Invasion of Ukraine begins

Feb. 24, 2022

“This week, Russia began their invasion of Ukraine. President Putin launched the attack with support from allies like Belarus and [conservative Fox News pundit] Tucker Carlson,” Jost said.

“Experts on Russian politics are saying that economic sanctions in the West will not deter Putin because his money is in non-traditional assets that are difficult to trace. Ugh, so on top of everything else awful about Putin, he’s also into crypto.”

Che also addressed Moscow’s assault on Ukraine while admitting: “This is a tough subject to make jokes about.” Nevertheless, he and Jost proceeded to make light of the situation with quips about twice-impeached President Trump, the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and other topics.


“In my lifetime, I’ve seen footage of attacks like this on other countries, but never a white one,” Che said. “... I am impressed by all the Ukrainian citizens signing up to defend their country — even the famous ones. Imagine that here. If you ever read on the news, ‘Michael Che has joined an American war,’ we have just lost that war.”