KYIV, Ukraine — The US Air Force Band posted online a remarkable a cappella performance of the Ukrainian Christmas classic — “Carol of the Bells” — as a tribute to the US-Ukrainian partnership.
Originally written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914, “Carol of the Bells” is based on a Ukrainian folk New Year’s chant called “Shchedryk.” The song was first performed by students at Kyiv University in December 1916, one year prior to the Soviet Union’s creation.
“Today, ‘Carol of the Bells’ is one of the most well-known and loved Christmas songs in the United States,” said Lt. Col. Cristina Urrutia, commander of the United States Air Forces in Europe Band, in the introduction to the video posted online. Urrutia described the performance as a “tribute to the US-Ukraine partnership.”
Following Russia’s invasion in 2014, Ukraine has been locked in a trench war in its eastern Donbas region against a combined force of Russian regulars, pro-Russian separatists, and foreign mercenaries. As the war in the Donbas enters its eighth calendar year, the daily combat rhythm of artillery and sniper potshots continues — and so does the slow trickle of military and civilian casualties. So far, some 14,000 Ukrainians have died in the war.
“Ukraine has no greater partner than the United States, which stands with you in your efforts to assert sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Urrutia said.