Year of God's Favour?
1. Rock Of Ages/Uluru: - Symbols of hope and reconciliation for Australia
2. The Year Of God's Favour: - From Isaiah 61 : 1-2
3. Hope For The Tree: - Based on address by Pope John Paul II to Aborigines at Alice Springs
4. Living In This Country: "Living in this country is like living with two souls: one is new and shiny, the other dark and old..."
5. The Deaths Go On: - On Aboriginal deaths in custody. This song was awarded the Declan Affley Memorial Aeard for the best new song at the Australian National Folk Festival, 1988.
6. When The Morning Comes Again - Lullaby of despair and hope
7. Bill: - an Australian 'Christ-figure' . . . setting of a poem by Henry Lawson
8. No More Boomerang: - Phyl Lobl's setting of a poem by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker)
9. Advertising Man: - A scathing look at the advertising industry and consumerism
10. Letter From Risdon Prison: - Based on Karin Donaldson's reflection on the sacredness of environment, written while she was in Risdon Prison Hobart after being arrested during the blockades to save the Franklin River.
11. Start From Where You Are: A song of gentle hope and encouragement.
12. The Promised Land: - A prayer in the context of Australian history
COVER PHOTO: Pattie Newman photographed by Marie Grunke
The cover photograph presents A photo of Patricia (Pattie) Newman, taken in Redfern by her friend, Marie Grunke. Marie wrote the following passage about Pattie for 'The Year Of God's Favour?' tape insert:
"Pattie was in tears as she spoke to the BBC interviewer. She was telling him of her life as an Aboriginal person in this country. How she was taken from her family as a small child and placed in a white orphanage; how she started drinking at the age of 14 and how she finally lost all her children to "welfare". Now she was trying once more to get her children back. She had managed to stay sober for more than a year. The interviewer asked her: 'what enables you to go on?' She replied, 'it's the love of these people, the "churchies" , they are family to me. They accept me for what I am.' " (nb. 'Churchies' a group of Aboriginal people who lived in an unused warehouse near St Vincent's Church, Redfern).
"The poor of
the Earth have a unique insight into the one human
family. In their shared experience of suffering,
their baptism by fire, they come to know in a
profound way the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God,
the one who sides with the oppressed. Shortly
before Pattie died, she told some of her friends:
'I won't have to suffer much longer. Jesus told me
he is coming to take me home.' She died on January
7. 1987 while being annointed by Fr. Ted Kennedy
who loved her like a daughter. She was 27 years of
age." (Marie Grunke)
This is my sixth collection of songs but the first in which I have fried to write about my own country. I don't find it easy to write about Australia: "In our history there are hard things to remember; the nation's soul is hard to understand." (Rock Of Ages / Uluru).
In writing these songs, I have taken up the commission heard from several Aboriginal people: 'talk to your people, tell them the truth'. Here we are, members of the dominant white race, living in what has been called 'the lucky country'. Yet, as the Aboriginal poet Maureen Watson once said: 'everything you white people enjoy today is at the expense of your black brothers and sisters'. This land has been taken by a long cruel conquest. The conquest has been maintained and justified by lies, wilful blindness, shameful laws and a hardness of heart and mind that must blame and despise the victim. A secondary school teacher wrote to me recently. 'Sometimes, in talking to beautiful young white children, I have been astonished to see their faces contorted with anger and hatred, and poison coming out of their mouths when the subject of Aborigines is brought up.' Denied facts and feelings work powerfully beneath the surface.
While travelling in the south-west of Victoria I heard that there is a field where the farmer never ploughs because of the bones that lie just beneath the surface. It is a place known by some as 'Murdering Flats' where Aboriginal people were herded together, tied up and shot. The terrible hardness that justified this act has passed through only four or five generations to many of the children of that area today and the remnants of the murdered race are still despised and rejected. The secret of 'Murdering Flats' is locked in the hearts of the people. The place is not marked. The act IS not repented. The story could be repeated with variations all over Australia. It is the story of Cain and Abel. While preparing these songs, 1 was given a copy of a letter written by Fr Peter Brock of Belmont, New South Wales.
BY FR. PETER BROCK:
"It seems to me a particularly bitter irony that the Spirit-people of European descent (again, the artists, the mystics, the prophets . . .) should take so very long to recognise, believe, and begin to interpret the voices in the night .... Until the event of 1788 is seen and named, the Spirit will groan within the earth. And the groaning will drive some mad. They will build thicker concrete-and-glass towers and breathe artificial air, keeping their soles from the soil. They will fly jumbo jet to Bali and Hong Kong and Singapore and to the Sacred Sites of Europe, rather than risk Uluru at sunset. And they will try to stuff the emptiness of their soul with Packer cricket, Bond yacht-racing or Fosters Melbourne Cup, trying, vainly, to appease the Spirit that cries out to them to know and love the Land into which they were born. Safer, they think, to whistle the advertisers' jingles, than sing the Land's songs. Fireworks, they decide, rather than ceremonies. Flags and slogans, rather than learning some syllables of the original local language - in case one hears those voices, yet again, in the night." (Fr. Peter Brock)
It is interesting to note that 'Murdering Flats' is sometimes called Murmuring Flats'. ? At the risk of driving some people mad, I have tried to listen to those voices, to sing out the truth of our past and present, and sing of my hopes for the next two hundred years. I hope the time will come when there will be well attended, deeply moving ceremonies of remembrance and reconciliation at 'Murdering/Murmuring Flats'. Maybe then the voices will be still and the hardness of our hearts will be softened.
Meanwhile, the Aboriginal people are still with us, still calling out for justice, still struggling for their rights, against so much distrust and prejudice. Their central call is for Land Rights, yet so few will listen to understand what they really mean. Few have really heard what Pope John Paul II said in his address at Alice Springs: "Let it not be said that the fair and equitable recognition of Aboriginal rights to land is discrimination. To call for the acknowledgment of the land rights of people who have never surrendered these rights is not discrimination. Certainly what has been done cannot be undone. But what can now be done to remedy the deeds of yesterday must not be put off till tomorrow."
I hope these songs will help us along the way . . . 'this troubled road we go to the Promised Land.'
Kearney, July 1988)
ROCK OF AGES/
THE YEAR OF GOD'S
In the synagogue at Nazareth at the start of his public life. Jesus introduced himself and his mission in the tradition of Jubilee Law by reading from Isaiah 61 : 1 -2 and this is the passage 1 have adapted and set to music.
HOPE FOR THE TREE
"If you stay closely united, you are like aTree standing in the middle of a bush fire sweeping through the timber. The leaves arescorched and the tough bark is scarred and burned; but inside the Tree the sap is still flowing. and under the ground the roots are still strong. Like that Tree, you have endured the flames and you still have the power to be reborn."
The image of the Tree is from Job 14: 7-9.
LETTER FROM RISDON
Karin is also the artist who created the cover artwork for the following albums: 'Turn It All Around', 'Where Is Your Song, My Lord?', 'Signs Of Hope' and 'Celebration'.
START FROM WHERE