Australia Day resources – various (26 January)

Listen to the Whisper: Music written by Geoff Boyce, sung by Tim and Alison Solly, with images from Colebrook memorial (Adelaide, SA) – can be used for Acknowledgement of Land.
View here on Youtube.

Youtube: A very special performance of ‘I Am Australian’ by the students of Broome Primary School. A production of the ABC in collaboration with the Mabu Yawuru ngan-ga language team and Yawuru Traditional Owners of Broome.

A beautiful performance of ‘I Am Australian‘ with lyrics in Pitjantjatjara language. The words were translated by Caroline Windy and Robert Borgas, with 90 singers performing at Simpsons Gap on Arrernte Country, including singers from the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir. Longer version here.

Youtube: This short film features the iconic Aussie anthem ‘I Am Australian’ which was written Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton and has been beautifully reinterpreted by triple j Unearthed artist Emily Wurramara. A range of community groups and schools were filmed singing for the video. Among them you’ll see and hear renditions by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, the Sydney Street Choir and a very special recording by the Broome Primary School students, who sang the song in Yawuru language.

Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White’s sermon from Day of Mourning services (19th January 2020), Leichhardt Uniting Church
“When we stop talking and listen, we hear that the church in Australia is built on stolen land, Indigenous land, and shares in a history of racism, massacre, abuse, stolen children, imprisonment and death in custody, and ongoing disadvantage. We hear that this legacy is really ours because we have explained, justified or remained silent in the face of this reality. When we stop talking and listen, we make space to realise anew that we have acted in ways that deny the worth of some of God’s people, equally made in God’s image.”

Great Spirit, God of every people and every tribe,
we come to you as your many children,
to ask for your forgiveness and guidance.
Forgive us for the colonialism that stains our past,
the ignorance that allowed us to think
that we could claim another’s home for our own.
Heal us of this history.
Remind us that none of us were discovered
since none of us were lost,
but that we are all gathered within the sacred circle of your community.
Guide us through your wisdom to restore the truth of our heritage.
Help us to confront the racism that divides us
as we confess the pain it has caused to the human family.
Call us to kinship.
Mend the hoop of our hearts
and let us live in justice and peace,
through Jesus Christ, the One who came
that all people might live in dignity. 
(Source: A Gathering Prayer from Native Ministries of the Episcopal Church: Resources on the Doctrine of Discovery)

Bounteous God, We give thanks for this ancient and beautiful land,
A land of despair and hope,
A land of wealth and abundant harvests,
A land of fire, drought and flood.
We pray that your Spirit may continue to move in this land
and bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and an end to all injustice;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We bless you, God of the Universe,
for this land,
for its contrasts of landscape and climate,
for its abundance of wealth and opportunity.
We bless you for our history,
with all its struggles in adversity,
its courage and hope.
Give us in our diversity
tolerance and respect for each other
and a passionate commitment to justice for all.
Bless us so that we might be a blessing to others.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God, bless Australia
Guard our people
Guide our leaders
And give us peace;
For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
(Source: Defence Anglicans)

Why Lord, O Why?
Why Lord, O why
is this where we are?
Why Lord, O why
all the sorrow we bear?
Land dispossessed
Our humanity scarred
Why Lord, O why Lord
is this where we are?

Why Lord, O why
such injustice, abuse
language and law,
and culture suppressed?
Sovereignty stolen
and spirit despised
we, church complicit
before mournful eyes?

How Lord, O how
could this happen, recur?
How Lord, O Lord
have we somehow not learned?
Apathy, silence
have marked our response
Where was compassion?

And at such a cost!

Hear Lord, O hear
Our deep “Sorry” … our pain;
dishon’ring First People’s
for our sinful gain, we 

pray restoration, forgiveness, renewal;
that we’ll walk together
as one, born in you
(Source: David MacGregor

© 2020 Willow Publishing
- written for UCA National Day of Mourning)
Music Score

Alternate words to the Australian national anthem

Australians let us stand as one, upon this sacred land
A new day dawns, we’re moving on to trust and understand.
Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere,
To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

Australians let us all be one, with peace and harmony.
Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me.
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share,
And honouring the Dreaming, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

Australians let us strive as one, to work with willing hands.
Our Southern Cross will guide us on, as friends with other lands.
While we embrace tomorrow’s world with courage, truth and care,
And all our actions prove the words, advance Australia fair,
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.
And when this special land of ours is in our children’s care,
From shore to shore forever more, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance . . Australia . . fair.
Lyrics from “The Australian Cities Suite”
Words by Judith Durham
Additional Words by Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Camilla Cahnce and Bill Hauritz
Based on words by P.D. McCormick (1878)
Music by Peter Dodds McCormick

Australia sings as one (ABC TV) Featuring ‘I am Australian’, produced during COVID19, with people singing from their own homes.

24 Sept 2018
The PM today suggested that questioning the appropriateness of Australia Day being held on Jan 26 is a sign of “indulgent self-loathing”
I don’t loathe myself but I do loathe that we’d so determinedly choose to celebrate on a day that Australia’s First Peoples collectively mourn.
I loathe that people who remind us that sovereignty was never ceded and that great injustice continues today are called “indulgent” but those who refuse to listen with empathy to First Peoples’ voices are called patriots.
I loathe a vacuous nationalism that invests more political capital in a calendar date than in reconciliation and the well-being, cultural health and self-determination of Australia’s First Peoples
(Source: Brad Chilcott)

Dr Deidre Palmer’s message for Day of Mourning 2020 (Deidre is President of the Uniting Church in Australia)


We have wilderness and dry land
at the heart of Australia.
We may not venture into it very often
but we know it is there,
it has its place on our maps.

More familiar to us, however,
is the wilderness in our own hearts,
the empty spaces in our own lives,
the desert of longings that engulf us.

Wilderness is a hard place,
but also a place of beauty and grace,
revealed by its sunsets and sunrises,
the glow of ancient rocks,
the moon shining on the sand.

Do not be afraid
of the desert places in your life,
for it is here
that the Good News
may be heard most profoundly.
May it be so.
(Source: adapted, Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality Centre)

Thoughtful article by Stan Grant, Identity politics traps the indigenous mind in cycle of grievance, published in April 2018 in The Australian.

A creed for Australia
We believe that this ancient land
with its unique creatures
is a precious gift from a loving God
whose mercy is over all creation.

We believe in God’s care for the people who treasured it
through un-numbered generations;
the One who grieves in their suffering
and rejoices in every noble aspiration.

We believe in God’s compassion
for the patchwork of refugees
who for two hundred years have come to this continent
looking for a place to call their home.

We believe in God’s steadfast love
for this nation and all its children;
that he is creating a new people from many races,
colours and gifts, to fulfil a high destiny.

We believe that the best way forward
is the way revealed by Christ of faith, hope and love,
where no needy person is neglected
and no bidding of the Spirit ignored.
(Source: Bruce D. Prewer)


UCA President Stuart McMillan’s message for Survival Day 2017

UCA President Stuart McMillan’s message for ‘Survival Day’ 2016.

Aboriginal responses to Captain Cook – hard hitting video!

Acknowledgement of land
Today we stand in footsteps millennia old. May we acknowledge the traditional owners whose culture and customs have nurtured and continue to nurture this land since men and women awoke from the great dream.
We honour the presence of these ancestors who reside in the imagination of this land and whose irrepressible spirituality flows through all creation. Jonathan Hill. 

Straya – national anthem
This youtube clip has gone viral as an unofficial ‘national anthem’ for Australia to the tune ‘hey ya’.

(Former) New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, has called for Australia to ensure it continues to embrace refugees in an Australia Day address.  “We are potentially at risk of losing what makes Australia the best place in the world to live because some want to shut our door and avert our eyes.”

Stan Grant – racism debate 2015

Rev Ken Sumner, an indigenous leader in the Uniting Church, reflects on Australia Day in this article.

Aboriginal people respond to Australia Day:

Song for Australia – words by Helen Wiltshire here: Australia Day.Song for Australia.HW (music in ‘Here’s a New Day, published by Pilgrim Publishing,, 08 82123295)

Notable speeches by Indigenous Australians here.


Prayer celebrating diversity
O God, you created all people in your image.
We thank you for the astonishing variety
of races and cultures in this country.
Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of friendship,
and show us your presence
in those who differ most from us,
until our knowledge of your love is made perfect
in our love for all your children;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted, Lutheran Book of Worship: Minister’s Desk Edition,
(Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1978)

Loving God, undiminished by distance, unconstrained by place or time, forever seeking, forever calling, forever drawing humanity to yourself and to each other, we glimpse your Spirit in the brooding silence of awesome landscape, the ancient law of Aboriginal nations, the unspoken trust of honest mateship. Yet in the vastness of this place, Australia, we often feel alone, alienated, unworthy of more than a passing acquaintance with your love.
Help us understand you ever yearn to make us whole, drawing near in Christ to show us the way. Amen.
(Source: Rev BL Smith, published in Frontier News, August 2011)
=> could be shaped as a prayer of confession, with silence after ‘with your love’, and the last line as words of assurance.

A meditation using images from the Australian landscape (written by Sandy Boyce, used at Pilgrim UC on 1 May 2011) guided meditation

A rolling brown land
Lord God,
your Spirit has moved over the face of Australia,
and formed from its dust a rolling brown land.
Your Spirit has moved over its warm tropical waters
and created a rich diversity of life.
Your Spirit has moved in the lives
or men, and women, and children,
and given them, from the dreamtime,
an affinity with their lands and waters.
Your Spirit has moved in pilgrim people
and brought them to a place of freedom and plenty.
Your Spirit moves still today
in sprawling, high rise cities,
in the vast distances of the outback,
and in the ethnic diversity of the Australian people.
Lord God,
in the midst of this varied huddle of humanity
you have set your church.
Give us, the people you have so richly blessed,
a commitment to justice and peace for all nations;
and a vision of righteousness
and equality for all people in our own country.
Help us to look beyond our far horizons
to see our neighbours in their many guises,
so that we may be mutually enriched by our differences.
and may our love and compassion for all people on earth
be as wide and varied as our land
and as constant as the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Source: Douglass McKenzie, ‘Uniting in Worship’, Peoples Book p. 240)

The French historian Ernest Renan (1823-1892) described forgetfulness as “essential in the creation of a nation”.  Renan is known for the statements that a nation is “a daily referendum”, and that nations are based as much on what the people jointly forget, as what they remember). Renan states: “Forgetfulness, and I would even say historical error, are essential in the creation of a nation.” Historical research, by revealing unwanted truths, can even endanger nationhood. nationality is based on sentiment. “All nations, even the most benevolent in later practice, are founded on acts of violence, which are then forgotten”. “Unity is always achieved by brutality”. He believed that people unite in their memories of suffering because alleviating grief requires a “common effort” which serves as a foundation for unity. Members of a community feel as though they have accomplished something great when they are able to survive in adverse conditions.  “Now, the essence of a nation is that the people have many things in common, but have also forgotten much together”. Renan concludes that a nation is “a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which are really one, constitute this soul and spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other, the present. One is the possession in common of a rich trove of memories; the other is actual consent, the desire to live together, the will to continue to value the undivided, shared heritage….To have had glorious moments in common in the past, a common will in the present, to have done great things together and to wish to do more, those are the essential conditions for a people. We love the nation in proportion to the sacrifices to which we consented, the harms that we suffered”. (Ernest Renan, “Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?“, conference faite en Sorbonne, le 11 Mars 1882).
What might this mean for Australia?

Opening prayer/call to worship
Our land is alive with the glory of God
Desert sands hum and gum trees dance
Brown grasses sing
and mountains breathe their stillness.
All created things add their rhythm of delight
and even the stones rap out their praise.
Let our voices mingle with the song of the earth
May our hearts join the beat of her joy
For our triune God is with us:
Our creator surrounds and upholds us.
Christ Jesus walks beside and upholds us.
The Spirit moves within and between us.
Blessed be God, our wonder and our delight.
Jenny Tymms

Call to worship
As we tread the ground of this place,
call to us, Spirit of God.
Open our ears to hear the sound of your voice
speaking in the desert silences,
stirring in the moving
of the grey-green bushland trees,
singing songs in the rhythm of our farmlife
and rising free in the humming of our cities.
Call to us again, Spirit of God.
Make your music of peace and joy in the midst of our life.
For your song is true, your voice is of love,
and in your Holy Spirit lies our hope. Amen.
Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Acknowledgement of land
This prayer by Dorothy McRae-McMahon could precede an acknowledgement of land.
Sometimes we think we are small gods, God of all creation.
We think we own this land
and can tame its eternal energies.
But it teaches us who we are in the cosmos, O God.
Its endless changing rhythms
of flood and dryness,
fire and fertility
invite us, age by age,
to simply take our place as your humble children
thankfully receiving small and larger gifts,
invited to cherish a mysterious landscape of your making…….

…….We acknowledge that we are on the land of the (name of traditional custodians of the land eg Kaurna) people and that the Spirit was in the land revealing God to them through law, custom and ceremony. The same love and grace that was finally and fully revealed in Jesus Christ sustained the Kaurna people and gave them particular insights into God’s ways. Therefore, we honour the wisdom of the Kaurna Elders and their continuing culture, and pray that we might all work together for reconciliation and justice in this nation.
(Using words from the Preamble to the Uniting Church constitution)

The Acknowledgement of country was written by Jonathan Hill who is an  Aboriginal poet living in New South Wales:
We begin with the acknowledgement of country:
Today we stand in footsteps millennia old.
May we acknowledge the traditional owners
whose culture and customs have nurtured,
and continue to nurture, this land,
since men and women
awoke from the great dream.
We honour the presence of these ancestors
who reside in the imagination of this land
and whose irrepressible spirituality
flows through all creation.

ther suggestions for wording for acknowledgement of land here)
For more resources …..

We’re standing here on holy ground” (Tune: ‘Ellacombe(2)’, 86 86D,  453 TiS)
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land your hand has made;
Your art displayed in timeless rocks,
in purple haze and space;
Its mighty gums and feathery ferns
your beauty magnify.
Tread softly then, in awe reflect,
and listen to the land.

We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land which ancients trod.
They wrote your law in hills and streams
in rocks and caves and trees;
A law to tell us who we are,
to guide and make us strong.
Tread gently then, respect the earth,
remember whence we’ve come.

We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land that toil has shaped.
It’s fertile plains will feed us all,
when tilled with care and love.
But mindless greed and drought and flood
wreak havoc in the land.
Then let us tread with love the earth,
that’s fed us faithfully.

We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land we long to share,
Where each has space and equity,
and neither want nor fear
But demons fierce are dancing here
of race and greed and hate.
Engrave upon our wills, we pray,
your ancient covenant law.

We’re standing here on holy ground,
we seek your rule on earth;
Your will be done in politics,
in law court, market, church;
Your gentleness among us reign,
and each one dwell secure;
May generations yet unborn,
live here in harmony.  © JBrown. (Adapted – Verses 1-2, 4-6)

God’s Word, God’s World (Tune: ‘The streets of Laredo’ – trad)
Come people of faith from the bounds of Australia,
let’s share in the vision of what we might be:
a part of God’s world that is vibrant with colour,
a landscape for life that is open and free.

God’s world has one table for all kinds of people,
God’s world is a home all are welcome inside,
God’s way is the way beyond stigma and dogma,
God’s Spirit the surfboard that dares us to-ride.

God’s Word is alive in the challenge of Jesus:
to look with his eyes at the world that we know,
to stand with conviction, to care with compassion,
to make new connections, to pray as we go.

Let’s relish the changes the Word rearranges,
with bushfires of bias stamped out from the start,
let’s savour the flavour of full-bodied living,
the world of Christ Jesus, the way of the heart. (Shirley Erina Murray)

A song for refugees who seek asylum in Australia by Malcolm Gordon
In these wide open spaces
This land needs tilling
But there’s rumours of war
There’s whispering of killing
Over mountain and flood and over the plain
This dark cloud reigns

Put my hand to the plough
There’s no turning home
For this stirring within
Won’t leave me alone
And alone is one thing that you’ll never be
There is no ‘them’, there is only ‘we’

Surely there is room for one more
Love make a way
How many saviours, unseen and displaced here
Will we leave out in the rain?

The weight of these times
Is measured in tears
The risk of this love
Is death to our fears
Give our voice for the groaning
Of children in chains
Forever there’s hope wherever there’s pain

Surely there is room for one more
Love make a way
How many saviours, unseen and displaced here
Will we leave out in the rain?
Surely there is room for one more
Love make a way
Picture what we could be
A generous family
Where welcoming arms hold open the door

In these wide open spaces
The wind blows alone
And the streets are just valleys that wander and roam
There is room for the pilgrim to lay down their load
And build a home.
Music can be downloaded here.
Links from Craig Mitchell’s website

Litany of Repentance (for Australia Day) – Litany of Repentance Australia Day
Here’s a write  up about the 2014 action outside the Perth Immigration Detention Centre.

Top 40 ‘Survival Day’ playlist on SBS website.

Prayers for others
God of grace, God of life, hear the cries that rise from the heart of Australia. The cry of Aboriginal communities, struggling for justice, sustaining meaning, nurturing creativity in the face of dispossession, dislocation and destruction, seeking freedom, shaping the future
The cry of pastoral stations, struggling for survival, sustaining meaning, nurturing achievements in the face of change, uncertainty and government indifference, seeking direction, shaping the future.
God of grace, God of life, hear our prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(original from 1997 Assembly Mission Prayer Handbook, Jesus, stand among us)
=> could have additional sections written for the current situations in Australia.

Prayers for others
God of all creation
You have given us the beautiful land we call Australia.
Rich in ancient culture and tradition,
Rich in landscape, plants and animal life;
Rich in resources, laws and social structure,
Offering safety and opportunity.
Teach us to see those who are at our gates,
To act justly so all may come to the table and
To weep for those who perish before they are invited.
Where there is hunger in our worldPrayer for solidarity
May we share our food and resources
and contribute our skills and knowledge
to create a sustainable food supply.
Where there is disaster
May we respond quickly and generously
To bring relief to those injured and deprived of homes
and help them to rebuild their lives and communities.
Where there are people who are disabled
May we see them first as people
and work tirelessly to ensure they are always included
and have the resources to reach their full potential.
Where people are displaced from their own lands,
Especially those who seek refuge on our shores,
May we dare to put ourselves in their shoes
And welcome them to share in the life gifted to us.
Where Indigenous communities are displaced in their own land,
May we acknowledge the wrongs of the past,
Recognise the richness of their culture
And empower all Indigenous Peoples
to determine their own future.
God of all creation
Give us clear eyes to see the whole world
So that we may never take for granted the gifts you have given
Or think they belong to us alone.
Give us open hearts to reach out from our comfort
and open our gates
To walk in new solidarity with our neighbours.
(Source: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council)

A multicultural church in multicultural Australia – a prayer
God of indigenous peoples, and migrant groups old and new,
God of Ruth, loving and loyal in a new land,
God of Esther, courageous to save her people from ethnic cleansing,
Only your love can break through our boundaries of race and culture, of ignorance and fear.
(Voices) I am a Samoan Australian
I am an Aboriginal Australian
I am an Anglo Australian
I am a Korean Australian
I am……(other examples)
We are all Australians. Creator God, you are making a new Australia of us all. We want it to be an Australia that honours you:
that stands strongly for your way; that gives a fair go; that builds peace.
May God helps us to respond to this challenge.

We all bring the unity and acceptance that are God’s gift to us.
Spirit of God, empower us to prove that your way of compassion and community is the way we are going forward together, with Jesus. Amen.
(Adapted, from the ‘Conference on Multiracial ministry in a changing Australia’)

Song of Australiaespecially written for Order of Australia Day service 2012. Words by Helen Wiltshire, Music by Norm Inglis. Song for Australia

For you, deep stillness by Julie Perrin & Robin Mann (All Together Whatever 494)
(Australian songwriters/musicians)

“Praise to Christ” by Christopher Willcock & Tony Kelly, which was composed for the “Pilgrimage to the Heart” in 2000. Listen here. Can be purchased here.

TIS 188 Where wide skies roll down. (Youtube clip with music and images)
Or choose a powerpoint with Australian images such as this by Scott Leggo.

TiS 672 expresses Australians’ thanksgiving for our land, sadness at the hurts of our history and prayer for our future. (The writer chose the tune Westminster Abbey). It was sung at the opening of the new Parliament House. The tune Bennelong can also be used – it is written by an Australian.

Lord of earth and all creation,
let your love possess our land:
wealth, and freedom, far horizons,
mountain, forest, shining sand:
may we share, in faith and friendship,
gifts unmeasured from your hand.

People of the ancient Dreamtime,
they who found this country first,
ask with those, the later comers,
will our dream be blessed or cursed?
Grant us, Lord, new birth, new living,
hope for which our children thirst.

Lord, life-giving healing Spirit,
on our hurts your mercy shower;
lead us by your inward dwelling,
guiding, guarding, every hour.
Bless and keep our land Australia:
in your will her peace and power.

Lord of the Nations
1. Lord of the nations, bless this ancient land,
where cultures meet and merge on every hand.
Let hearts diverse with common purpose beat,
let barriers crumble and discord retreat.

2. Your children, Lord, we come from every race,
diverse traditions and beliefs we trace.
Our feet may march to many a different drum,
but yours the resting place to which they come.

3. In countless tongues your glory we declare.
A thousand accents rise as one in prayer,
your listening ear to every voice inclines,
each soul is precious in your grand designs.

4. Root out, O Lord, our prejudice and fear,
and bid us to the stranger’s heart draw near.
Veneers of difference may we pierce, and see
one single undivided family.

Words: Nim LaBrooy (Pilgrim Uniting Church Adelaide)
Music: Woodlands (Walter Greatorex 1877-1949)

Marie Wilson wrote:
Although not Australian, TiS 281  When God Almighty came to be one of us can be sung to Waltzing Matilda – I read in the introduction to the first Australian Hymnbook that that was the tune intended for it and then the writer realised we were having a national anthem debate so thought it was better to have a different tune – it is a bit of fun to sing and the words are ok.

Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer (sung) TIS 253 O Lord Jesus Marrkapmirr (2 verses)

THE TRINITY (c) Paul Sheppy
Tune: Advance, Australia Fair or Kingsfold
If you use the Advance Australia Fair tune, you need to repeat the final 2 lines of each verse. Written for Trinity Sunday but can be used anytime.

Come, Christians all, to sing the praise
of God, the mighty One,
Ancient of Days, whose canopy
shines brighter than the sun.
Throughout the universe are found
the wonders that portend
complexity and mystery:
the glory without end.

The Word made flesh makes known to us
an interwoven sign:
hope, wisdom, prophet, priest and light,
life, truth and way and vine;
messiah, judge and sheepfold-door,
salvation, teacher, friend,
whose life, laid down for all the world,
brings glory without end.

An Advocate to us is given –
breath of creation’s day.
She hovers over chaos-depths
to straighten disarray.
The guarantee and pledge of life
on whom all things depend,
the nourisher of faith and hope
for glory without end.

Eternal God, the Three in One,
the source and goal of all;
be light and word and life for us
who gather at your call.
May all the earth proclaim your praise
and come to apprehend,
from North’s Pole Star to Southern Cross,
your glory without end.

In times of great decision…
(Tune ‘The Church’s One Foundation’)

1.4 In times of great decision,
Be with us, God, we pray!
Give each of us a vision
Of Jesus’ loving way.
When louder words seem endless
And other voices sure,
Remind us of your promise,
Your love and truth endure.

2.4 O God, whose gifts are countless,
You send us bearing peace.
You fill our dreams with justice,
For all communities.
You give us global neighbours,
That all may justly live,
May those we choose as leaders
Reflect the life you give.

3.4 O God, you bridged the distance,
You opened wide your door,
You call us by our presence
To reach to serve the poor.
You teach us: welcome strangers!
Seek justice on the earth!
May those we choose as leaders
See every person’s worth.

4.4 you call on every nation
To put aside all greed,
To care for your creation
And for your ones in need.
To care for those in prison,
For children, for the ill,
In times of great decision,
may we choose leaders well
(from Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor No. 56
Words Carolyn Winfrey Gilette, Copyright © 2009 Discipleship Resources)

Give glory
By John Beavis. Public domain

Take this sand, take this snow
Coopers Creek to Omeo
give glory, glory to the Lord.
Tiger snake, kangaroo,
Franklin-Gordon, Kakadu
give glory, glory to the Lord.

Ancient people, people new,
share the cross on midnight blue;
with arid hearts and desert seeds
Living water fill our needs.

Take this gold, take this reef
take this rock and take this beef
give glory, glory to the Lord.
take this coal, take this wool
take these prawns by the trawler-full
give glory, glory to the Lord.  Chorus

Take this ore to make the steel,
take this wheat to make this meal
give glory, glory to the Lord.
take this woman, take this man:
an equal place, an equal plan
give glory, glory to the Lord. Chorus

Take this sand, take this snow
Cooper’s Creek to Omeo
give glory, glory to the Lord.

Australian hymn writers
TiS 681.  Lord let me see.                       Ross Langmead.
TiS 687.  God gives us a future.            Elizabeth Smith.
TiS 420.  Holy Spirit go before us.       Elizabeth Smith.
TiS 691.  Faith will not grow.                 Elizabeth Smith

Others that could be of interest…..
·         TIS 615 Almighty God, lift up our eyes
·         TIS 135 All things bright and beautiful, verses 1, 3, 4, 5

There’s more to identity than flag-waving
Published on Eureka Street, 5th Nov 2014 by Andrew Hamilton

Australian flag painted on fist

In times of anxiety people often worry at questions of identity. individuals worry about sexual identity, Christians about church identity, football supporters about club identity, and citizens about national identity. Now in a time of anxiety about terror and cultural cohesion, we naturally fret about Australian identity.

Identity is often imagined through the image of territory. It has boundaries that separate people from others. It includes distinctive practices, histories and beliefs that distinguish people from others. If we see identity in this way we might think it reasonable that people wanting to become Australian should know what cricket is and who Don Bradman is. 

From this perspective, when people take on one identity they leave behind their former identities. Chinese immigrants stop being Chinese on becoming Australian citizens; Protestants stop being Protestant when they are received into the Catholic Church. Dual identities become problematic – can you really be Australian and Irish, or an Australian and a Muslim?

In his recent Quarterly Essay, Noel Pearson draws on a different image of identity. He describes identity as layered. We are human beings. We have a national identity, a regional and local identity, a religious or philosophical identity, a cultural and linguistic identity, a professional identity, identities associated with sporting clubs, recreational activity and social commitments. If we are asked what we are, we can answer that we are simultaneously human, Australian, Indigenous Australian of the Kulin nation, teacher, Collingwood supporter, Methodist, member of Rotary, and so on. All these things together shape our identity.

The image of layers suggests rightly that we should not understand ourselves as self-contained individuals given a homogenous identity by membership of a group. We are persons in rich and complex relationships, all of which shape our identity. Each layer of relationships formed through affinity, culture, language and other factors will be expressed in distinctive beliefs, practices and interpretations of history. So, for example, Australians of Indigenous, English and Vietnamese descent will have different ways of telling the Australian story.

This approach to identity may seem centrifugal and fragmented. But in fact it is cohesive precisely because it is multilayered. At each layer of our identity we connect with people with whom we may share little in common in other respects. We may be devout Baptists, but in our bowling club we mix convivially with Catholics, atheists, Christian Scientists and so on. We may Indigenous with a history of being discriminated, but in the local fire brigade we work cooperatively with descendants of the settlers who despoiled us. Australian identity is constituted by a complex network of interrelationships between people. 

The strength and variety of the layers of our personal and group identity contribute to a strong national identity. We shall be more cohesive as a nation if our citizens are passionately Indigenous, committed Muslims or Christians, active in our communities and social groups, strong in our convictions. 

But the strength of a national identity also depends on the strength and depth of the connections we make through these layers with people and groups different from own. If we are isolated in homogeneous and non-interactive groups, any larger national identity we have will be brittle. So it is important for national economic and social policy to enable inclusion.

Australian identity is constituted formally by living together in same territory, accepting the claim that the institutions of governance and law make on us, and accepting other Australians as a ‘we’ and not as a ‘they’. The strength of national identity will depend on the richness and variety of the layers of personal identity within Australia and the richness of the interactions between people who are different. Because this is so, Australian identity is always changing: it reflects the changing relationships between people and groups within society. 

Our identity as Australians does not trump all other forms of identity. The best political drama has always focused on adjudicating conflicting claims of religious faith and of national identity, on deciding what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar. In such disputes people usually appeal to the wider identity and consequent responsibilities that all human beings share by virtue of being human.

When national laws and practices are inhumane, it is right to be ashamed of belonging to the nation and, if push comes to shove, to disobey the national laws in the name of humanity. That is why Antigone, Christian martyrs and conscientious objectors have been derided in their time and subsequently honoured, not only as individuals but as ornaments to their nations. They helped shape national identity.


I love a sunburnt country (Dorothea Mackellar)

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly. (Dorothea Mackellar)

May the road stretch endlessly before us.
May blue skies and the sun smile upon us.
May gentle rain refresh us.
May we find rest in the shade of gum trees.
May good friends accompany us along the way. (Helen Warmingham)
May you know the presence of God as you journey.
May Christ be your companion
And may the Spirit lift up your life. Amen.

‘May they be one’ by Nim La Brooy, Pilgrim Uniting Church Adelaide

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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6 Responses to Australia Day resources – various (26 January)

  1. Marilyn Obersby says:

    Many thanks for the great resources. I am putting together a service for Australia Day this Sunday, and it is so difficult to find relevant, contemporary prayers, litanies etc, especially gathered together in one place. I am especially grateful for the hymn/song suggestions and the terrific words to well known tunes. I appreciate your hard work gathering all this together!

  2. Frank Nelson says:

    I stumbled across your blog a few minutes ago when (somewhat belatedly) i sat down to think of a reflection for tonight’s quiet service at St Peter’s Cathedral (after a long day of noise and cycles whizzing past in the TDU). I shall be reading one or two of the entries. Bless you. Great resource.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. Much appreciated. Hope the quiet service went well. Everything goes back to ‘normal’ now the TDU has finished. Blessings, Sandy

  3. Glenys Badger says:

    We sang at the Australia Day ceremony this morning and now I am preparing for worship on Sunday. Thank you for the resources that have given me some ideas for leading in prayer for Australia – and maybe some songs.

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