'SNL' broke from tradition Saturday night ... there were no laughs in the cold open -- instead, there was a moving tribute to Ukraine.
The show opened with Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong somberly introducing the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York. The choir sang a mournful song called "Prayer for Ukraine."
The Chorus has a deep connection to both Ukraine and the U.S. ... Ukrainian immigrants back in the 1940's created the Chorus to preserve their Ukrainian heritage and celebrate music ... something deeply important in Ukrainian culture.
A table filled with candles was center stage, spelling the name of the capital -- Kyiv.
'SNL' has broken from tradition with serious cold opens only a few times in the past -- notably, after 9/11 Paul Simon sang "The Boxer" as first responders and then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani stood by.
BTW ... John Mulaney hosted the show for the 5th time, and hilariously mentioned his cocaine addiction and rehab stint, saying, "It's wonderful to be in a place that always emphasized sobriety and mental health."