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The Undeclared War soundtrack: What's the song in episode 1?

What is the name of the folk song that plays in Channel 4's The Undeclared War, and what do the lyrics mean?

Danny and David in The Undeclared War
Channel 4
Published: Monday, 4th July 2022 at 5:03 pm
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Channel 4 cyberattack drama The Undeclared War is set in the near-future in 2024, and follows a young genius hacker, Saara, who arrives at the GCHQ Malware Department on the same day of a well-timed cyberattack that takes down the country's internet.

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The synopsis reads: "When a routine stress test of internet infrastructure goes awry, 21-year-old GCHQ intern Saara Parvin (played by Hannah Khalique-Brown) suddenly finds herself operating on the invisible frontier of high-stakes cyber warfare."

The source of the cyberattack in unknown, but the Head of Operations at GCHQ, Daniel Patrick (played by Simon Pegg), soon suspects the Russian state.

The Undeclared War episode 1 features various memorable moments, including a "too good to be true" ending as Saara seemingly averts a second cyberattack.

Many of these moments are soundtracked by a musical refrain, which replays throughout the episode and adds an eerie quality to the season opener.

But what is the name of the song that plays in The Undeclared War episode 1, and what do the lyrics mean?

What's the song in The Undeclared War episode 1?

Saara in The Undeclared War
Saara in The Undeclared War Channel 4

In the first episode of The Undeclared War, a haunting track plays at multiple different points in the episode, including when Saara (Hannah Khalique-Brown) arrives at GCHQ for her internship at the Malware Department.

The song that features multiple times in The Undeclared War episode 1 is 'Under the Willow', a Russian folk song. (You can listen to a version of the track here.)

Composer Debbie Wiseman created her own orchestration for the track for The Undeclared War, but the song's tune and lyrics are traditional.

The traditional lyrics (translated into English) are:

Under the green willow
The wounded cossack was lying
Oy du, under the green one
The wounded cossack was lying.

A raven bird over him was flying,
Began croaking loudly.
Ay du, raven wouldn’t fly
Hadn’t he smelled a good bite.

Black raven, don’t croak over my head,
I am still a cossack alive.
You’d better fly to my father’s and mother’s home,
Give the kerchief soaked in my blood
To my young and lovely wife.

Tell them, raven, that I’d got married
To another girl.
That I’ve found a bride
In the open field, across the river.

Was our wedding quiet, subdued,
Under the willow bush,
Oy du, quiet, subdued
Under the willow bush…

The matchmaker was the saber sharp,
The best man was bayonet of damask steel.
Oy du, saber sharp
And the bayonet was the best man.

A swift bullet married us fast
And motherland wed us.
Oy du, swift bullet
and motherland us wed.

The Undeclared War is airing on Channel 4. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Drama hub for the latest news, interviews and features.

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