It is the religious-patriotic hymn "Almighty God" (Magutnyj Boža), sung at the end of Masses on July 3, Independence Day. For the Belarusian president it is a "fascist song" used to destroy the state. In 2020 it became one of the symbols of anti-government protests.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus yesterday expressed his dissatisfaction with the singing in his country's Catholic churches of the religious-patriotic hymn "Almighty God" (Magutnyj Boža). The hymn was sung on 3 July, the day of national independence, according to the Telegraf online newsagency.
The hymn contains a prayer to God for the well-being of Belarus. It was composed in 1943 by the Catholic poet Natalia Arsenieva. In 1947 (i.e. already under the Soviets) the composer Nikolai Ravensky composed the music for the song, which has since become very popular. Despite this, because it dates from the time when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany, Lukašenko called it a 'fascist hymn'.
The text reads: 'Almighty God! Lord of the universes / of great suns and small hearts! / On Belarus, peaceful and friendly / you have spread the rays of your glory. / Give strength to everyday work in toil / for a slice of bread, for the homeland, / in respect and strength and greatness of faith, / in our truth, for our future grant! / Give fertility to the fields of rye, / with our hands they have been threshed! / Render powerful and happy / our country and our people!".
Under the title Magutnyj Boža, the city of Mogilev has hosted a festival of religious music since 1993. Now in its 23rd year, it takes place on the national holiday at the beginning of July, with the final event held in the Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Lukašenko, however, sees this as provocation: 'You see, they want to subvert our historical memory, rehabilitate their grandparents and great-grandparents and finish what they started. They want to destroy our sovereign state, waving mercenary banners and exalting the song of the Catholic servants of the Nazis, but we will make them pay,' the president threatened.
The 'mercenary banners' would actually be the hated white-red-white flags, the country's symbol before the Soviet occupation, to which Lukashenko himself swore an oath when he came to power in 1994, only to restore the red-green emblem of the former Soviet republic of Belarus (removing only the hammer and sickle). He himself changed the date of Independence Day: from 25 March, when independent Belarus was first proclaimed in 1918, to 3 July, the day on which the Soviet armies occupied the country in 1944 in place of the Nazis.
The Belarusian Catholic Church has announced on its official website the presidential invitation to celebrate a common prayer "for Belarus" on 3 July. Precisely in response to this invitation, the bishops had given instructions to sing the hymn Magutnyj Boža at the end of all Masses, as the notary of the curia of the archdiocese of Minsk-Mogilev, Fr Roman Straško, explained.
In 1993, a year before Lukashenko came to power, a commission of the Higher Council of Belarus proposed the Catholic hymn as the Belarusian national anthem. In 2003, on the occasion of Natalia Arsenieva's 100th birthday, a plaque with her image and the text of the hymn to the Mighty God was placed in front of her house-museum near Minsk. In 2020 it became one of the symbols of anti-government protests across the country, sung by the masses on the streets in opposition to the 'president-usurper'.