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Songs of hope in a contemporary context. Recorded with the 'Crossover' Group.
Originally published 1986 as cassette-tape and music book.

Order-Buy: Custom CD  /  CD-Rom with music and lyrics
nb. All ten tracks from 'Signs of Hope' are included on the double-CD compilation
"Make Me a Song" (The Best of 25 Years)

Preface by Peter Kearney
Project History
Background notes on songs
Comments by Val Noone
'Crossover' Group


1. John And Jesus:- The justice message of John the Baptist and his cousin Jesus

2. To See The Light - "God is like the sun, we were meant to come into the light." Young people love this one

3. Signs Of Hope - Liberation theology - based on the writings of Brazilian Bishop, Dom Helder Camara

4. My Daughter My Son: - "Of silver and gold I have none but in my heart be love . . . "  A song that is often used for baptisms, weddings and funerals

5. Black Is: Peter's setting of poem of 'black pride' by Aboriginal poet, Maureen Watson

6. Start From Here: - Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (Hiroshima, Sydney?)

7. Love Is Not A Crime : A story of civil disobedience on Easter Sunday morning.

8. George Zabelka:- Telling the story of the Catholic Chaplain to the crews who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He later became a peace activist

9. All Aboard The Ark: - 'All aboard the ark, no first or second class, everyone is welcome and the tickets are for free . . . the slow can join the fast,' - a light-hearted celebration of the L'Arche communities which welcome intellectually disabled adults

10. Lead Me To Hope:- Lead me to hope, love, faith and peace ... Ideal for congregational singing.

Originally published in 1986 by Crossover Music. Arrangements developed with the group 'Crossover'. Together Peter and the 'Crossover' group put on several live performances 1985-1986.

Recorded at Restless Studio, Balmain, Sydney. Mixed at Restless and Windwood Studio, Lawson, NSW.

'Crossover': Peter Kearney, Linda Berry, Louise Gore, Claire Parkhill, Roger Ilott, penny Davies, Ross Grierson.

"These songs take on the grim realities of human oppression, the nuclear threat and environmental pollution but are themselves 'signs of hope'. The imagery is rich and stimulating and the tunes reflect the joy of a follower of St. Francis of Assisi."
(Val Noone, Melbourne)

COVER ARTWORK: Karin Donaldson

From 'Signs of Hope' Music Book

This is a collection of songs written in the two years following 'Turn It All Around' (1984). (nb. The 'Where Is Your Song, My Lord?' collection, though newly published (1985) in tape and book form, is a group of earlier songs, most of them written in 1970 while I was living in England).

'Turn It All Around' had a penitential theme and its colour was purple. For 'Signs Of Hope', the artist Karin Donaldson has chosen green and white shining out against a dark background. She writes: "hope, for rne, has to do with clarity and brightness. The green and black and white for me add up to a kind of alert, cheerful brightness which I think is right to suggest hope."

This spirit and attitude of hope is found in Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife, the poorest region of Brazil. Who could know better than he the problems, the backdrop of despair, the enormous obstacles to justice and peace? In his book 'Hoping against all Hope', he gives us a calm analysis of the problems, the structures of injustice, the spiral of violence. But then, again and again, throughout the analysis, comes the refrain: 'but there are signs of hope, clear signs of hope!' He is, in Martin Luther King's phrase, 'tough-minded and tender-hearted'. He believes in the tiny seed, in the light that the darkness cannot snuff out, in the power of truth and peaceful action. He believes in the power of people who have discovered hope faith and solidarity. The focal point of this collection is the title song 'Signs of Hope' which is based on the writings of Dom Helder Camara. In other songs, 'signs of hope' are found in individual lives. in relationships, in communities centred on the poor and the small including the family, in culture and tradition and in the war-resistance movement . . . 'signs of God, signs of hope in a hopeless time'.

I write from and for a community of faith yet I am a song-writer rather than a hymn-writer or liturgist. Of this collection perhaps only 'Lead Me To Hope' and 'My Daughter, My Son' would work as hymns. However, it has been heartening to hear from quite a few people that the songs as well as the hymns are meeting a need. They have been listened to and sung, even danced and dramatised, in a variety of contexts. I trust that these new songs will find their welcome places and become in themselves 'Signs of Hope.

Thanks to all who help and encourage me in my work. Special thanks to Karin Donaldson, Claire Parkhill, Maria and Henr Rohr, Rob Humphries, Ted Kennedy and, as always, Madge. Thanks to the people who inspire the songs.

Peter Kearney, April 1986

by Peter Kearney

Touching lightly on serious matters. The chorus refers to the original meaning of 'Baptism' which is 'being overwhelmed by the waters . . . or 'drowning'.

Written for the Sydney visit of the Brazilian bishop, Dom Helder Camara in May 1985 and based on his writings.

"Dom Helder has made it his work to understand why grinding poverty exists. He made his own the saying of Ghandi: " The earth provides enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed.'' He has spoken out fearlessly against the system of land-ownership in Brazil and the operations of the huge international companies which transfer the wealth of the country to distant shareholders. His criticisms made him unpopular with the powerful and wealthy. 'When I feed the poor they call me a saint; when 1 ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.. To the Church he preaches poverty and simplicity. As Arch-bishop, he choooses to live not in a palace but in a room which was a church sacristy. He is an advocate of active non-violence in the tradition of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King and places great hope in what he calls 'Abrahamic minorities'. These are groups of people round the world who practise active non-violence and solidarity with the poor and oppressed."

Notes by Bruce Kent from his book - 'The Non-Violence of Helder Camara'

Maureen Watson is an aboriginal poet and storyteller. I think her poem is important for the positive meanings it gives to the colour and word 'black' and also as a strong statement of pride in black people, black culture now, today. I Enough of laments for a 'dying race'. The aboriginal people are still with us, still seeking justice and, ultimately, their liberation will be ours also. Sung here by 'whitefellas. with Maureen's approval. She has heard the song and likes it.

'Murries' . . . meaning Aboriginal people, more commonly heard in Queensland.. equivalant to Koories and Nungas.

Written for the Family Life Education Conference in Sydney, June 1985. The sense of the text parallels Acts 3.1-10.

"He came closer to the city and when he saw it he wept over it saying: 'If only you knew today what is needed for peace ! But now you cannot see it . . .' " (Luke 19:41-42). It struck me that Jesus could have been weeping for all scenes of future destruction.

Based on an interview with George Zabelka who was Catholic chaplain to the 509th Airborne Division based on Tinian Island during the second world war. It was from this island in the Pacific Ocean (Ocean of Peace!) that the planes flew to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

An excellent video 'The Reluctant Prophet' has been made on the life of George Zabelka.

Easter at Watsonia, 1985
Dom Helder Camara places great hope in 'Abrahamic minorities' - groups of people practising active non-violence. One such group came together after the Sydney Ecumenical Peace Conference, October 1984, with the intention of buiIding an Australian Christian network to resist preparations for nuclear war and give witness to "our faith in the sovereignty of the risen Lord over the powers of the world -' After Lenten preparations through fasting and prayer, 25 people gathered at dawn on Easter Sunday at the joint US Australian satellite facility at Watsonia Barracks, Melbourne - a facility which would guide US nuclear weapons to their targets in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A small group- Barbara Clements, mother of six from Adelaide, Sister Pat Durnan, an MSC nun from Sydney and Jim Dowling of the Brisbane Catholic Worker group entered the prohibited area, stained the base of the communications dish with the symbols of blood and ash and wrote the words 'Messenger of Death' on the column. They planted rosemary and seeds as symbols of life and hope and then prayed together until discovered by the authorities. They were linked through prayer, song and symbols of seed and candle with larger groups near the outer fence. In making this act of civil disobedience, the group of three faced prison sentences of up to 7 years.

Catching something of the spirit of L'Arche. Begun in France in 1964 by Jean Vanier, L' Arche is a place where the mentally handicapped and their assistants share the work and life of a single community. L'Arche communities have since been founded in many other countries including Australia.


In March 1985, Peter Kearney gathered some musical friends for three concerts to launch 'Turn it All Around'.

During 1985-86 the group played in several concerts around Sydney and were asked to provide the music for an evening with the Brazilian Bishop, Dom Helder Camara at the Sydney Opera House. (The song 'Signs Of Hope' was written for this event).

The group developed arrangements of new songs by PK and eventually these songs were recorded on this Album, 'Signs Of Hope'. Members of Crossover at the time were:

Linda Berry (flute, vocals);
Penny Davies (vocals, percussion, dulcimer);
Louise Gore (synthesiser, melodeon, vocals);
Ross Grierson (double bass);
Roger Ilott (guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, percussion, vocals);
Peter Kearney (lead vocals, guitar, recorder, percussion, metallophone);
Claire Parkhill (lead vocals, piano, recorder).


At the Melbourne Launch of 'Signs of Hope', 1986

"First comes 'John and Jesus' in which a jovial melody acts as a counterpoint and dreadful story of what happens to those who speak the truth. The title song is based on the words of Bishop Dom Helder Camara of a champion of Brazil's poor. 'Black Is' is Peter's setting of a strong, evocative piece by Maureen Watson and Aboriginal storyteller who works to affirm and strengthen Aboriginal identity. Then comes a lament about a city which could be Sydney and Hiroshima and Jerusalem. 'George Zabelka' is the story of an old US Airforce chaplain who had blessed the bomb crews on Tinian Island as they went off to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Zabelka now repents and has gone on a pilgrimage to Japan to beg forgiveness.

These songs take on the grim realities of human oppression, the nuclear threat and environmental pollution but are themselves 'signs of hope'. The imagery is rich and stimulating and the tunes reflect the joy of a follower of St. Francis of Assisi.

There is a central theological position in Kearney's work which he sums up neatly in the refrain of the title song: "the poor ones show the way, the poor ones are the way." Peter Kearney is part of a movement of those who try to live at the meeting point of the ancient Christian tradition and the world of today... He takes seriously a very serious task, namely the transformation of our culture from one of war and profit so beloved by the mass-media to one of resistance and peace and justice. From a culture of violence and death to a life-affirming culture.

The way in which Peter's songs combine joy and pain reminds me of the Buddhist saying: "Deep down within us the pain and joy are one". (Val Noone, Fitzroy )