Saturday, October 13, 2018

Advance Australia Fair

Some trivia about Advance Australia Fair  . . . 

Honourable No 2 son Elliot graduated yesterday, Kate and I being proud attendees. 

The proceedings began with the Australian national anthem being sung. Now my experience with the national anthem is that at sporting events, such as football grand finals and public events, the conclusion is met by loud cheering and barracking. On this occasion it concluded with deathly silence, broken when a child about 18 months came out with an extremely loud “YAYYYYYYYY!!!” It brought laughter from the entire room, obviously a child from football loving parents. 

(It brings to mind an item from No 2 son’s youth. At a Carols by Candlelight in church when he was three, he wanted to join in the carolling but didn’t know the songs and the words. That didn’t stop him, at a pause in one of the songs he loudly burst forth with what he had seen in The Lion King: “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”.) 

At the subsequent lunch I mentioned to Elliot and partner Maddy that when I was young, the opening words of Advance Australia Fair were not “Australians all let us rejoice” but “Australia’s sons let us rejoice”. 

Here are some more items about AAF . . . 

Usually only verse 1 is sung, sometimes verse 3 as well, but the rest of the verses are quite crappy . . . 

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, 
"Brittannia 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; 
Brittannia then shall surely know, 
Beyond wide ocean's roll, 
Her sons in fair Australia's land 
Still keep a British soul. 
In joyful strains then let us sing 
"Advance Australia fair!" 

For overseas readers not familiar with the Oz anthem, hear it by clicking on: 

"Advance Australia Fair" was composed in the late 19th century by Peter Dodds McCormick. It was first performed by Andrew Fairfax at a function of the Highland Society of New South Wales in Sydney on 30 November 1878. The song quickly gained popularity and an amended version was sung by a choir of around 10,000 at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. In 1907 the Australian Government awarded McCormick £100 for his composition. 

Peter Dodds McCormick 

In 1913, McCormick wrote to a friend: 
One night I attended a great concert in the Exhibition Building, when all the National Anthems of the world were to be sung by a large choir with band accompaniment. This was very nicely done, but I felt very aggravated that there was not one note for Australia. On the way home in a bus, I concocted the first verse of my song & when I got home I set it to music. 


In 1974 the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam caused a poll to be held as to an alternative to “God Save the Queen” as the national anthem. Advance Australia Fair was preferred by 51.4%. God Save the Queen was retained for all regal occasions. In 1976, the Fraser Government reinstated God Save the Queen as the official national anthem. 

In 1977, with debate over which song would represent Australia at the Montreal Olympic Games, the Fraser government requested the Australian Electoral Office to hold a plebiscite to select a national song. Over 7 million of the 8.4 million people on the electoral roll chose Advance Australia Fair as the preferred song, followed by Waltzing Matilda, God Save the Queen and Song of Australia. 

Advance Australia Fair" was adopted as the Australian national anthem in 1984 on a recommendation by the Labor government of Bob Hawke. "God Save the Queen", now known as the royal anthem, continues to be played alongside the Australian national anthem at public engagements in Australia that are attended by the Queen or members of the Royal Family. 

“Our home is girt by sea . . .” 

What an antiquated way of saying that we are an island. 

“For we are young and free . . . “ 

Is it any wonder that indigenous people are alienated by the anthem when it measures Australian history from the time of Cook’s discovery in 1770, ignoring 40,000 years of indigenous settlement and history. 

In 2017 controversial indigenous boxer Anthony Mundine called for people to remain seated during the performance of AAF on the basis that "It's a racist anthem and doesn't represent our people," 

Very well, I hear you say, if you don’t like AAF as the national anthem, what do you propose? 

I humbly submit for consideration as an alternative national anthem the victory song of the Australian cricket team. Written by Rod Marsh, it is (according to Wikipedia) “typically sung by the players in the style of a raucous chant after every victory and ‘treated with reverential consideration and respect’ within the team.” 

The lyrics are simple so there would be no problem with people learning them and they say everything that needs to be said: 

Under the Southern Cross I stand 
A sprig of wattle in my hand, 
A native of my native land, 
Australia you fucking beauty. 

See, for example: 

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