Being Australian 20: poem and song, images, dreams, nostalgia, England

Random, but not quite.

Sydney Exhibition Cantata

Henry Kendall  1841-1882

Part I


Songs of morning, with your breath
Sing the darkness now to death;
Radiant river, beaming bay,
Fair as Summer, shine to-day;
Flying torrent, falling slope,
Wear the face as bright as Hope;
Wind and woodland, hill and sea,
Lift your voices—sing for glee!
Greet the guests your fame has won—
    Put your brightest garments on.

Recitative and Chorus

Lo, they come—the lords unknown,
Sons of Peace, from every zone!
See above our waves unfurled
All the flags of all the world!
North and south and west and east
Gather in to grace our feast.
Shining nations! let them see
How like England we can be.
Mighty nations! let them view
Sons of generous sires in you.


By the days that sound afar,
Sound, and shine like star by star;
By the grand old years aflame
With the fires of England’s fame—
Heirs of those who fought for right
When the world’s wronged face was white—
Meet these guests your fortune sends,
As your fathers met their friends;
Let the beauty of your race
Glow like morning in your face.

Part II


Where now a radiant city stands,
    The dark oak used to wave,
The elfin harp of lonely lands
    Above the wild man’s grave;
Through windless woods, one clear, sweet stream
    (Sing soft and very low)
Stole like the river of a dream
    A hundred years ago.


Upon the hills that blaze to-day
    With splendid dome and spire,
The naked hunter tracked his prey,
    And slumbered by his fire.
Within the sound of shipless seas
    The wild rose used to blow
About the feet of royal trees,
    A hundred years ago.


Ah! haply on some mossy slope,
    Against the shining springs,
In those old days the angel Hope
    Sat down with folded wings;
Perhaps she touched in dreams sublime,
    In glory and in glow,
The skirts of this resplendent time,
    A hundred years ago.

Part III


A gracious morning on the hills of wet
And wind and mist her glittering feet has set;
The life and heat of light have chased away
Australia’s dark, mysterious yesterday.
A great, glad glory now flows down and shines
On gold-green lands where waved funereal pines.


And hence a fair dream goes before our gaze,
And lifts the skirts of the hereafter days,
And sees afar, as dreams alone can see,
The splendid marvel of the years to be.

Part IV

Basses and Chorus

Father, All-Bountiful, humbly we bend to Thee;
    Heads are uncovered in sight of Thy face.
Here, in the flow of the psalms that ascend to Thee,
    Teach us to live for the light of Thy grace.
Here, in the pause of the anthems of praise to Thee,
    Master and Maker—pre-eminent Friend—
Teach us to look to Thee—give all our days to Thee,
    Now and for evermore, world without end!

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"

When gallant Cook from Albion sail’d,
To trace wide oceans o’er,
True British courage bore him on,
Till he landed on our shore.
Then here he raised Old England’s flag,
The standard of the brave;
With all her faults we love her still,
"Britannia rules the wave!"
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

While other nations of the globe
Behold us from afar,
We’ll rise to high renown and shine
Like our glorious southern star;
From England, Scotia, Erin’s Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Should foreign foe e’er sight our coast,
Or dare a foot to land,
We’ll rouse to arms like sires of yore
To guard our native strand;
Britannia then shall surely know,
Beyond wide ocean’s roll,
Her sons in fair Australia’s land
Still keep a British soul.
In joyful strains the let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Our national anthem — always sung these days in an abridged and bowdlerised version.

** I ended up downloading the whole thing. It is the first colour documentary ever made in Australia; I first saw it when I was 10 years old; it preserves like a time capsule just what Australia saw itself as in 1954.

5 thoughts on “Being Australian 20: poem and song, images, dreams, nostalgia, England

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