Songs for National Holidays

People ask me about these every year, and I don't usually suggest anything, but there are a few songs worth mentioning that are particularly relevant and country-specific. This is just a beginning, and I will add to it as I think more about it.

Aboriginal Day / Day of Mourning / Australia Day 2021
To learn more about the Day of Mourning, celebrated in Uniting Churches in Australia. Read more about it, and find service resources here. There are additional resources here for Aboriginal Day from Common Grace; some of the suggestions below come from that resource - it's great! Please take a look at it!
  • Online Resource We're standing here on holy ground (John P Brown) Excellent words set to a simple Maluku tune. Lyrics here.
  • Online Resource If we can now say that we're sorry (Kerry Fletcher) Excellent words and a simple enough song to be sung by a congregation. Lyrics and sheet music.  
  • AoVK-130 Around this land we love so well (Bates) Very specific words; useful if you are talking about Aboriginal Reconciliation. The tune is quite straightforward, but if it is new it would work best sung by a soloist.
  • *Online Resource Creator God you made this land (Keith Pearson) Words of reconciliation from the United Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. "Great Spirit in this ancient land, speak in the stillness deep within. Remove all prejudice and fear, give life to all, new hope begin. Then help us gently walk as friends, while on this land your peace descends". Sung to the familiar hymn tune ST PETERSBURG (TiS375). Lyrics (downloads a pdf) New words to old tunes.
  • Recorded Music Special treatment (Paul Kelly) This song could work well during a prayer of confession; I think Archie Roach has recorded it too, and I like his version better. Youtube. Lyrics
  • Online Resource Yil-Lull (Joe Geia) This is just a great song, with a verse of praise to God, and the chorus is really easy for the congregation to join in on. Youtube. Story
  • ATW 433 At the dawn of the ages / You were in this place (Robin Mann) An Australian song about seeing God in this ancient land and in our indigenous people, and the blindness of the colonisers in seeing that God was here before the white man came. “Do we take after Jacob, blind to what lies at hand, needing dreams to inform us God is here in this land?”. Tune is very smooth and simple. Lyrics.
  • Online Resource Follow the songlines (Shirley Murray) Excellent words of God's presence here before colonisation, and our call to follow. Lyrics and sheet music
  • Online Resource Sing a song of freedom (Helen Wright) A song calling for justice among us, written for the #ChangeTheHeart prayer services. It will need to be taught. Youtube.
  • TiS 590 / AHB 165 / AoVK-117 / NCH506 / UMH526 / VU663 / LBW439 / ELW742 / HPP408 / GtG465 / PH403 / CP532 / W&R473 / Cha585 / Srce 776 / StF531 / MP746 What a Friend we have in Jesus (Joseph Scriven) This is a favourite in many Aboriginal communities around Australia. There is a bit of masculine language, but the song has so many other good things about it it's worth singing. I like both tunes. AOVK has different lyrics, written specifically for kids, which I think are worth singing. Good for kids. Oldy-but-a-goody.
Songs from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
  • TiS 383 Joyful the morning when Jesus Christ is risen (Traditional Torres Strait Islander) It's beautiful and joyful and Torres Strait Islander! We should sing this!
  • TiS 253 / AoV2-119 / AoVK-103 / GA419 O Lord Jesus Marrkapmirr This simple song from an Aboriginal community in Arnhem land is easy to sing and talks of the timelessness of God’s love. “O Lord Jesus Marrkapmirr, all the power belongs to you”. There is some king and power language in this which may not work for some. Lyrics  
  • ATFG574 /  NCYC'97 You are our Father you live in heaven / Aboriginal Lord's Prayer (Warmun and Tiwi communities) Aboriginal Australian version of the Lord's Prayer. 
  • ATE 290 We are gathering (Unknown source) While not written by an Aboriginal person or community, this song is important to many Aboriginal communities. The language for God is not inclusive. You can hear it here in English and in Language
New Zealand

  • MV053 God who spread the boundless prairie (Herbert O'Driscoll) A good hymn for those in countries that have prairies! The words seek unity, and a better future. Lyrics.

  • MV053 God who spread the boundless prairie (Herbert O'Driscoll) A good hymn for those in countries that have prairies! The words seek unity, and a better future. Lyrics.


Patty said...

my go to in recent years for Australia Day has been TiS 188 Where wide sky rolls down

Glenys said...

We wrote another verse to reflect our local area - Riverland SA

Lectionary Singer (Natalie Sims) said...

Hi Glenys, Which song are you referring to here? I'd love to know more about this verse!

Taizefreak said...

The UCA Assembly in 2018 resolved to encourage all congregations to observe a day of mourning on the Sunday before Australia Day, in line with a recommendation by the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. There are resources available for liturgy and preaching, available at These would be complemented by your wonderful music suggestions, Natalie! :)
James Douglas

hari dhameliya said...
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