(Songs for Peace & Justice)


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(Songs for Justice & Peace)

Songs based mainly on scripture inspired by Peter Kearney's association with
Fr. Ted Kennedy and the Parish of Redfern, an inner city suburb of Sydney.
Originally published 1984 as cassette-tape and music book.
See track list below.

Order-Buy: Custom-CD  
Custom CD-Rom
(with melodies, lyrics, chords - no audio)

Also available online
for listening and download via CD-Baby or iTunes.

1. CD-Baby
2. iTunes

Ted Kennedy- Foreword
Preface by Peter Kearney
Background notes on songs
Project History


1. The Man God Chose: - The Song of the Suffering Servant - Isaiah 52:14 - 53:12

2. The Magnificat: - Mary's Song

3. Isaiah 58: - "Now I'll tell you the fast that is pleasing to me- to break unjust fetters, let the captives go free".

4. No Right To Crush God's People: - Strong sayings from the Prophet, Isaiah

5. Simon Son Of John: Three questions from Jesus - three answers from Simon-Peter.

6. A Confession To Jesus The Poor: - A penitential song for rich people and rich nations

7. Heal Me, Help Me, Save Me - "You are all part of one body, so you can't be healed by yourself"

8. Unless The Grain Of Wheat Falls - Seeking hope in the midst of tragedy . . . the text incorporates ideas and images from an address given by Fr. Dick Buchhorn at the funeral of an Aboriginal youth, shot down in Moree, New South Wales, November 1982

9. Come Now Holy Spirit - Setting of the old Latin hymn 'Veni Sancte Spiritus'

10. The Refugee Carol - Christmas carols are usually either sweet or triumphant, but this one takes account of the historical circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus (ie. colonisation by the Romans)

11. Hiroshima, Never Again!  A graphic account of August 6, 1945

12. The Prayer Of St Francis - The Peace Prayer of St. Francis: "make me an instrument of your peace."

Originally published in 1984 by Dove Communications. Now published and distributed by Crossover Music.

Painting JPEG
Karin Donaldson's beautiful painting
of the crane as a peace symbol
became part of the cover design
for 'Turn It All Around'


In my childhood, the hymns we Catholics used to sing reflected the theology and devotional emphasis we heard from the pulpit and in the classroom. The congregation hardly ever sang during Mass. The parish choir would sing motets at Low Mass and sometimes it would attempt a polyphonic rendition at the occasional High Mass.

Congregational singing seemed more appropriate for Evening Devotions. The popular hymns, all imported from other countries, were in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Name, the Sacred Heart, Our Lady and the saints. We children learned them by rote, noting that they had stood the test of expressing and supporting our grandparents' faith for a lifetime.

It didn't seem to matter too much if we could never quite muster the sentiments found in '0 Mother I could weep for mirth... 0 could the transport last' - although at times some of us did screw up our laces and try. Nor were we deterred by the semantic problems which came to a child's mind when we sang the first Communion hymn 'I love You, 0 little white Guest'. The fact that the same Guest was contained within the Host was just one off those divine conundrums that came within the Mysteries of Religion. So we sang on regardless.

Then in the 1940s, Pope Pius XII began writing encyclicals which indicated a liturgical renewal. As a young priest in the early 1950s, I introduced Richard Connolly to James McAuley and asked them to write liturgical hymns, initially for the parish of Ryde. It was a fruitful partnership producing the fine hymns published in the Living Parish series. They helped to bring about a better awareness of the theology of the Mass, the Sacraments and the Seasons of the Church; and they encouraged lay people to take their rightful place in them.

Some of the old hymns which were theologically inaccurate died hard, even when they were authoritatively suppressed. Some members of one American parish were dismayed when their Bishop suppressed the old favourite which they had sung as the tabernacle was closed after Benediction- 'Good night. sweet Jesus'. They appealed for exemption. This Bishop granted it- provided that, as they sang it the priest and people stood on their tiptoes and waved!

In the 1960s there was the Vatican Council. Shockwaves went through the Church when Pope Paul VI, in his first encyclical, admitted that the Church had begun to question its own identity and was striving to gain deeper self awareness. The old profile of a Church which had seemed to exist outside of time and for its own sake was beginning to fade. The Church was now being seen not so much as a sanctuary as a sign or sacrament; not so much as a safe enclosure as a daring disclosure pointing to the presence of Jesus in the world, especially in the poor and oppressed. Pope Paul, like Pope John, confessed to the Church's own guilt. He lamented past 'dolorous polemics'. A rather haughty, self sufficient image of the Church was being replaced by a humble servant image. Witness had been seen largely in the context of religious pugilism, proselytising for the sake of conversion to the Church. Now conversion was being seen for the sake of witness to Gospel values. Jesus was no longer being thought of, since his ascension to heaven, as stationary as a sanctuary statue there, or confined to a tabernacle imprisonment on earth. Many old hymns, with their sanctuary language, were inadequate in expressing the new spirit

About this same time, the young Peter Kearney came to Sydney University with a song in his heart. He began to write songs which sprang directly from the Gospel. There was great enthusiasm among the students as they waited for the fresh songs which he produced each week. These songs were published as 'Songs of Brotherhood' and they have remained fresh for twenty years. We were heartened to hear 'Fill My House' sung at one of the Papal Masses at Randwick in 1970.

In his second publication 'Songs of the Lord's Travellers' (later re-titled 'Where Is Your Song My Lord?') Peter continued to write with an ever more penetrating understanding of the Gospel message. These have become very popular in Redfern parish and Aboriginal people have adopted as their own songs like 'A King in Rags' and 'Where is your Song my Lord?' This is perhaps some indication that the Australian Church, which has been a Church only moderately for the poor and hardly at all of the poor is beginning to change. Peter's most recent songs reflect the deeper understanding of spirituality which must take root in the Church if the change of heart is to endure.

(Ted Kennedy, Redfern, May 1984)


The title 'Turn It All Around' comes from a poem by my long time friend, Gordon Biok:

Who has the love to turn all this around? -
Who has the heart to stir the fallow ground?
Who has the time when there is no time at hand?
Who has the power of woman and of man?
It's up to us who can hear the sound,
It's up to us to turn it all around . . .

'Turn it all around' means, inwardly a change of heart and mind and outwardly. changing the world. It is interesting to note that in the original language of the Bible, 'conversion. meant 'to turn around'. Repentance is turning from, and faith is turning to.

Most of us are part of the rich minority in this poor and hungry world. Within our own country there are many, such as the Aborigines, who are poor, the victims of the same system which makes us rich. This concerns us all, whether we know it or not, as does the fact that we, as a nation, are co-operating in preparations for nuclear war which could put an end to all hope.

We need to set our heads clear to see the heartless values, structures and process which cause suffering, poverty and injustice, to see our own part in these. Only then can we do our bit towards the ultimate revolution (ie. 'turn around') which is the coming of God's Kingdom.

These thoughts are well summarised by Jim Wallis: "Conversion marks the birth of a movement out of merely private existence into a public consciousness. Conversion is the beginning of active solidarity with the purposes of the Kingdom of God in the world. Our prayer becomes, 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". If we restrict our salvation to only inner concerns, we have yet to enter into its fullness. Conversion, then, is public responsibility- but public responsibility as defined by the kingdom, not by the state". (Jim Wallis, The Call To Conversion, Albatross Books, 1981 , p.9)

I am glad Jim Wallis sees conversion as something gradual because I know I fall far short of really living by the principles of the kingdom. as stated by Isaiah, Jesus, St Francis. and given musical expression in these songs. A friend, Christine Smith, knowing well my uneasiness about this, jokingly suggested an alternative title for the collection.. ie. 'The Gap'. Madge, my wife, says these songs are my 'tussles with God', my prayers. and that's about the truth of it. God, revealed through the words and example of Jesus. calls me and you, weak and reluctant as we may be, to 'turn it all around' .

As a songwriter, I see my role as giving lyrical and musical expression to the values. thoughts and dreams of my faith community. I put my name to these songs, yet they are more than my own, owing much to the influence and inspiration of others. These include Ted Kennedy (parish priest of Redfern, Sydney where most of these songs were sung for the first time), Christine Smith. Gordon Biok, Karin Donaldson, Michael Fallon, Chris and Anne Donaldson. Dick Buchhorn, Marie Grunke, Claire Parkhill, John O'Brien and Nic Lyon (who helped to develop some of the musical arrangements), my wife Madge and many others. My thanks to all of these.

(Peter Kearney, 1984)


The words have their basis in the denunciations by Isaiah, Chapters 1-32: Isaiah 6:67, Isaiah 3:15, Isaiah 5:89, Isaiah 10:1, Isaiah 10:2, Isaiah 1:23. Isaiah 32:6. Isaiah 28:15, Isaiah 30:12-14, Isaiah2 6:5-6.

A song, originally written to be part of a catechetical program (Joy for Living) prepared by CCD Sydney.

Written as a contribution to Marie Grunke's edition of the 'Bread and Wine' magazine, 1983. As stimulus material , Marie sent PK some of the sayings of the early church fathers such as St Basil (AD330-79): 'the bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man ; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the man who needs it'. And St John Chryostom: "Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not honour him here in the church building with silks, only to neglect him outside, when he is suffering from cold and nakedness." . . . A penitential song for rich people and rich nations too . . . like Australia.

The text incorporates ideas and images from an address given by Fr Dick Buchhorn at the funeral of an Aboriginal youth, shot down in Moree, New South Wales, November 1982. Permission to publish the song has been received from Dick and the parents of the youth. The use of the word 'martyr' in this context is unusual but worthy of consideration.

Written for Pentecost, 1983. Ted Kennedy showed PK a translation of the beautiful old Latin hymn, 'Veni Sancte Spiritus' which has been adapted for this song.

Christmas carols are usually either sweet or triumphant but this one takes account of the historical circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus and the experience of his family during his first years.

"Caesar was counting our heads" -Luke 2: 1 5. The Jews were an oppressed people. The census decree which forced Joseph and Mary to make the arduous journey from their home in Galilee to Judaea was issued by a foreign power Rome, occupying their country by force. "The kind of people we are is a sin". See how Nathanael responded when he heard Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. 'Can anything good come from that place?' (John 1 :46).

"Galilee was a fringe-area: the centre of nowhere and the crossroads to everywhere. The people at the fringe were looked down upon by the people at the centre (Jerusalem/Judaea). The Jews rejected Galilean Jews.' (V. Elizondo, 'Pueblo and Beyond'. See also the chapter 'Symbol of Galilee' in Elizondo's book 'Galilean Journey'.)

"Herod is searching, he's hunting us down. " See Matthew 2:13 18. Joseph, Mary and Jesus, like so many little and poor people since, were forced to become refugees, fleeing from the oppressive use of power. Herod, using 'legal authority, ordered his armed forces to kill all male children under the age of two. (A modern equivalent would be the order to bomb a non-military target -for example Hiroshima, where 70000 men, women and children were killed.)

"The peace that disturbs" -"The peace we are promised at Christmas is not a conflict absent but a justice present peace; a state marked by fair distribution of resources, mutual respect for persons and a caring relationship between humans and nature; a society that is just and sustainable; a community where all may belong and contribute and share- all ages. races and abilities. Such a peace will not come in some easy, pleasing, neutral way but only through change and struggle. The peace promised by the prophets and announced by the angels is as much about the body politic as it is about private peace of mind.' (Konrad Raiser, World Council of Churches, 1980.) Thanks also to Michael O'Hearne and Margie O'Sullivan who had this passage fixed to their wall, Christmas 1983).

"Herod's the heel of his shoe.." Caesar, the Roman Emperor, was the overlord , Herod his puppet king. In today's world the United States of America (the eagle) and Russia (the bear) have similar power in many countries outside their official borders.

Some details of this description are taken from an account of the blast by Philip Noel-Baker, a British politician who was involved in both attempts at world peace organisation-the League of Nations and the United Nations. The song was written to be part of the Hiroshima Day commemorations on the Southern Highlands of NSW., August 6, 1983.

This song is also included in 'Good Morning Good People!', Peter Kearney's folk-oratorio on the life of St. Francis of Assisi.


Recorded 1984 at Platypus Studio, Broger's Creek. Engineer- Nic Lyon.
Musicians and singers: Peter Kearney, Nic Lyon, Claire Parkhill, Roger Ilott.

"Kearney is a gifted singer-songwriter whose work manages to combine strength with sensitivity, and challenge with compassion. There is no hint of the maudlin, anaesthetic pitch that so often infects so called 'religious music'. Rather, a maturity of faith and contemporary reflection informs all of these songs, most of which are scripturally based."
(Terry Callahan, Melbourne)

COVER ARTWORK by Karin Donaldson