Monday, December 15

Australian Christmas Carols

At the time I grew up as a child Australia was more “English” than the English. We sang traditional English Christmas carols and songs about a winter wonderland each Christmas despite it being in the height of our hot summer. Our parents slaved over a hot stove to serve up our piping hot Christmas family dinner with plum pudding appropriate to any English household blanketed in snow.
At this time the landscape in Australia fades to brown, and is fanned by hot Northerly winds, which herald the beginning of the ever present threat of raging bush fires. Australia is a fragile land and one of the driest on planet earth.
The summer heat brings with it an increased chorus from our birds who loudly proclaim the new seasons bush flowers. At that time we would head for the beach or plan family picnics alongside cool streams by shaded trees.
Australian Composer John Wheeler captures that reality with these evocative words as Christmas carols, which we I like to sing each year. “Orana” is an aboriginal word meaning “Welcome”. Here are 3 of his carols

Carol of the Birds

Out on the planes the Brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing
Up to the sun the wood larks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas day

Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparked and quiver
Deep in the gullies Bell birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyrics notes rhyming
‘Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day

Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in wattle tree boxes
In the blue ranges, Lorikeets calling
Carols of bush birds rising and falling
‘Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day

Christmas Day

The North Wind is tossing the leaves
The red dust is over the town
The sparrows are under the Eaves
And the grass in the paddock is brown

As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ child the heavenly King

The tree ferns in green gullies sway
The cool stream’s flow silently by
The joy bells are greeting the day
And the chimes are adrift in the sky

As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ Child the heavenly king
and the following added in by us to make up another verse
The south wind is blowing a gale
The white foam caresses the sand
The  grey gulls are greeting the whale
And the cool change refreshes the land

How about 3 wise drovers!!

Across the plains one Christmas night, 3 drovers riding by ….and gay
Looked up and saw a starry light, more radiant than the Milky Way
And on their hearts such wonder fell, they sang with joy “Noell Noell”

The air was dry with summer heat and smoke was on the yellow moon
But from the heavens faint and sweet came floating down a wondrous tune
And as they heard the sang full well, those Drovers 3 “Noell Noell”

The black swans flew across the sky, the wild dog called across the plain
The starry lustre blazed on high, still echoed on the heavenly strain
And still they sang “Noell Noell ” those drovers 3 “Noell Noell”
Tomorrow we entertain the oldies at Southern Cross Aged care with carols, which reminds me Christmas is upon us. This year marks our 30th year.


Tom said...

Yes, it has always seemed a little strange to me that Christmas must be held at the height of summertime. I suspect this is because deep down in my psyche I relate Christmas and the post Winter Solstice periods, both being phases of renewal.

I am sure you all look forward to your carol get together. May it be a joyous occasion with great lustiness and tunefulness of singing. Best wishes.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Thanks Tom - we will indeed sing the carols today( in the next few hours in fact ) with great gusto !!

One resident I know has his 102nd birthday soon. He laments the fact he is unable to sing all the higher notes around the piano afterwards.
He is rather envious of his young friend, who is in his nineties, with no such difficulties.
best wishes

susan said...

Absolutely beautiful carols, Lindsay, and a fine description of your marvelous homeland. I wish you great joy in this Christmas Season and all the happiness sharing your music brings to others.

Gee, I thought Canada was more English than England when I was a child too. At least we did have the snow and cold - too much of it sometimes.

All best wishes.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
We have just returned from the nice concert at Southern Cross Aged Care.
May I reciprocate and wish you and your family a joyous merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. As discussed previously Canada does have many similarities to Australia; both are constitutional monarchies which have leanings to multiculturalism and have populations clustered along the eastern seaboard in Australia or in near proximity with the USA.When Howard was PM he was a Harper coach as is Tony Abbott now a supporter now he is in power. As you say the difference is one of climate as Australia is the driest, lowest and flattest continent in the world, apart from Antarctica. From Mount Kosciuszko at 2228 metres to the vast dry bed occupying 1,200,000 square kilometres of Lake Eyre, 15 metres below sea level. Hence the land resembles a giant basin which can fill up with water perhaps only one or twice in a lifetime. But it occurred both in 2009 and 2010 in what must be seen as a natural miracle, following a record breaking period of drought. You might like to view this
video again as a tonic for new birth at Christmas.
Best wishes Certified Green Loans Assessor Registered (number H050***07) said...

As each day breaks the year's seem shorter. It is hard to believe Christmas is about to dawn again. Keep on writing old chum. Sorry to learn you both have troublesome days may the coming year be very kind to you both. Best wishes, Bruce

Lindsay Byrnes said...

thanks Bruce. I trust we may be able to catch up some time next year. Best wishes