Russian song of the week

Rise up, Enourmous Nation! (The Sacred War)

Вставай страна огромная (Священная война)

On June 24, 1941, two Soviet the newspapers published verses by V. I. Lebedev-Kumach which began with the words: “Rise up, enourmous nation, rise up to the deadly fight…”

The drafts stored in the archive indicate that Lebedev-Kumach rewrote and refined individual lines and stanzas many times, sometimes replacing entire quatrains.

The verses were read by the head of the Ensemble of the Red Army A.V. Aleksandrov. They made such a strong impression on him that he immediately sat down at the piano. The next day, having come to the rehearsal, the composer announced: “We will learn a new song – The Sacred War”. He wrote the words and notes of the song on a slate with chalk (there was no time to type) and the singers and musicians copied them into their notebooks. Already next day, there was a rehearsal with the orchestra, and in the evening, immediately after the intense rehearsal, the ensemble left for the Belorussky railway station to perform in front of the fighters leaving to the front.

The view of the station was unusual: all the premises were filled up by the soldiers. Everybody had new, not yet fitted uniform. Many have already managed to get rifles, machine guns, sapper blades, gas masks – everything that a front-line soldier should have. In the waiting room, a platform was made of freshly rounded boards – a kind of stage for performances. The artists of the ensemble climbed this dais in doubts: is it possible to perform in such an environment? In the hall, there was noise, harsh commands, radio sounds. The words of the presenter, who announced that the song “The Sacred War” will now be performed for the first time, drowned in the common hum. But when Alexandrov lifted his hand as a signal to the performers, the hall gradually calmed down… Turned out, there were no reasons for worries… From the very first bars, the song captured the attention of fighters. And when the second verse started, there was absolute silence in the hall. Everyone stood up as if they were singing a hymn. Tears were visible on stern faces, and this energy passed to the performers as well – they all had tears in their eyes…

The song finished, but the fighters demanded to repeat. Over and over again – five times in a row the performers sang “The Sacred War”.

Thus began the path of this song, a glorious and long path. From that day on, “The Sacred War” was adopted not only by the Soviet army but by all the people, and became the anthem of the Second World War (Great Patriotic War for Russians). It was sung everywhere – at the forefront, in partisan detachments, in the rear where weapons for victory were forged. Every morning it sounded on the radio.

The author of “The Sacred War”, A. V. Aleksandrov once wrote: “I have never been a military specialist, but I still had a powerful weapon in my hands – a song. The song can strike the enemy as well as any weapon!”

Since then, when this song is performed in public, it is customary to stand up like you are listening to the coutry’s anthem.

Lyrics and translation

  • Встава́й, страна́ огро́мная,
    Встава́й на сме́ртный бой
    С фаши́стской си́лой тёмною,
    С прокля́тою ордо́й!

  • Rise up, enourmous nation,
    Rise up to the deadly fight
    Against the dark fascist power,
    Against the cursed horde!

  • Пусть я́рость благоро́дная
    Вскипа́ет, как волна́, -
    Идёт война́ наро́дная,
    Свяще́нная война́!
    (2 раза)

  • Let the noble rage
    Boil over like a wave -
    This is the people's war,
    The Sacred War!
    (2 times)

  • Дади́м отпо́р души́телям
    Всех пла́менных иде́й,
    Наси́льникам, граби́телям,
    Мучи́телям люде́й.

  • We shall repulse the stranglers
    Of all ardent ideas,
    The rapists, the thieves,
    The tormentors of the people.

  • Пусть я́рость благоро́дная
    Вскипа́ет, как волна́, -
    Идёт война́ наро́дная,
    Свяще́нная война́!

  • Let the noble rage
    Boil over like a wave -
    This is the people's war,
    The Sacred war!

  • Гнило́й фаши́стской не́чисти
    Заго́ним пу́лю в лоб,
    Отро́дью челове́чества
    Сколо́тим кре́пкий гроб!

  • In the rotten fasist scum
    We'll drive a bullet in the forehead,
    For the scum of humanity
    We shall build a solid coffin!

  • Пусть я́рость благоро́дная
    Вскипа́ет, как волна́, -
    Идёт война́ наро́дная,
    Свяще́нная война́!
    (2 раза)

  • Let the noble rage
    Boil over like a wave -
    This is the people's war,
    The Sacred War!
    (2 times)

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