A Ukrainian folk song

Mnohaya Lita literally translates as 'many years' and is the only lyric in this song that we began learning on 15th March this year. It's often sung at weddings, christenings, celebrations, in church and in the pub! It's a blessing, a well-wishing, a "have a good life" sort of song. 

The song came to my attention when it was posted on Instagram by a song leader in the US, Annie Zlystra. Like many of us, she turns to song as a way to engage with culture, and to reach out in support of people on the other side of the world. She said "I am just one oral tradition song sharer on a continent far away, but I believe our voices have power and songs can make waves. Will you sing with me?" 

I found another version of the song on YouTube. It's a recording of a performance in New York in 2015 by a group called Ukrainian Village Voices. I've transcribed this recording, and this is the version we've been learning.

Nadia Tarnawsky workshop, and how to donate

I've also recently attended an online workshop about Ukrainian singing, run by Nadia Tarnawsky. She taught two songs (not Mnohaya Lita) and explained the special ways of singing from that part of the world. 

While we are paying attention to the people of Ukraine through singing songs from their culture, if you would like to make a tangible donation, there are lots of opportunities to make a difference:

  • Buy Ukrainian Village Voices latest CD as a virtual download. 100% of these sales is going to Ukrainian humanitarian causes.
  • Donate to one of the groups listed on the Ukrainian workshop page. The workshop was free to attend, and to watch the video, with a request to donate generously in support of the Ukrainian people.
  • Donate to NZ-based organisations working to help the Ukrainian people. Some that I've found out about are Save The ChildrenNew Zealand Red Cross, and Mahi for Ukraine
  • If you're having difficulty making payments overseas, you can give me the money and I'll send it through my Paypal account.

Resources for learning this song

Start by listening to the performance by Ukrainian Village Voices. The lyrics are:

Mno-hay-a li-ta
Mno-hay-a li-ta
Mno-hay-a, mno-hay-a li-ta
Mno-hay-a li-ta
Mno-hay-a li-ta

But to my ear they sound more like "(m)nor higher letter" . Once you've learned your part you can sing along to this video all the way through. I've made some recordings of myself (and Bill!) singing the various parts - soprano (melody, high female voice), alto (mid female harmony), tenor (low female or high male), bass (men only!), and they are in a Google Drive folder here, There's audio taken from the Ukrainian Village Voices video, and a track of all my voice parts together. Have an explore, a listen, and see if you can sing along. The timing is tricky eh? Once you get it in your body/ear/heart you'll find it flows. Enjoy! 

Annie Zylstra

sings Mnohaya Lita on Instagram

Ukrainian Village Voices

 sing Mnohaya Lita in New York, 2015

Nadia Tarnawsky

workshop March 2022


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