Lament and Homecoming

Lament and HomecomingMaster of Theology Thesis 2021


Place is an important part of Theology—however, the relationship between the two is intractable. Place has an underlying dimension in Australia—ownership is unresolved. In 2017 the Uluru Statement from the Heart was made by the First Nations people; it addressed the Australian people, from their heart to ours. They have a sacred link to this country; they speak of a tragic history and current powerlessness. This thesis is a personal response to this statement—using music and theology. Their experience of powerlessness can be linked to that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. By reading them together we magnify both.

I look at the history of the places where I have lived. I give musical expression through laments and lament like works—expressing a beauty that shines despite its transience. My compositions use interweaving lines of traditional melodies. I examine Tim Ingold’s theory of lines. For him, religion is a re-bending (re [again] and ligare [to bind or fasten]); lines and knotting are at the heart of this—it is a grammar of participation. I join my individual voice to a communal voice. I look at chance, providence, order, and kinship.

From exile, I seek a homecoming. In doing this, I attempt to discover something of the nature of the Australian landscape and its religious connotations. To uncover these links, I analyse Mangrove by Peter Sculthorpe, and several of my compositions. I look at the history of Uluru, seeing its moral and spiritual dimension. God enters our world of suffering and time, he shines there. Being is holy. The birth of the universal is within the concrete. We must approach our history humbly. To live here—at a particular place—carries with it the cycling of our ancestors, the movements of other living beings, the realms of the spirit; one place—multiplied by the infinite.


I used to play my new compositions to my father on my Soundcloud site. Each piece had a painting attached that he had created many years earlier. He enjoyed listening to them and looking at his art. He died last year. I dedicate this to him.

My father, Barry Carroll, at the site of Governor Phillip’s arrival in Manly.


The Uluru Statement

“The ‘sovereignty’ of Indigenous Australians—immutable and inextinguishable—is visible at Uluru as it is at few other places in the continent.”[1]

Place is an important part of Theology—however, the relationship between the two is intractable. Theology is both from a place and to a place. Daniel prayed towards Jerusalem,[2] Solomon gave instructions to pray towards the land that God gave to their ancestors, towards the city he has chosen, and towards the temple where he put his name—as an act of repentance.[3]  This pattern is repeated not only in the cognitive dimension of theology, but also in its practical outworkings. I live in Australia. Place has an underlying dimension here—ownership is unresolved.

At Uluru,[4] a large group of Aboriginal leaders assembled in 2017 to discuss constitutional recognition. What emerged from that gathering was a remarkable document: the ‘Uluru Statement of the Heart.’[5] It begins, “We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky make this statement from the heart.” [6] It is expansive and inclusive, it is a statement from their hearts to ours. “It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia…”[7] This thesis is concerned with this sentiment expressed in the Uluru Statement—a fair and truthful relationship. We come “from all points of the southern sky”—I, a non-aboriginal, do too. “We journey across this vast country”—I am invited to join them in this, seeking a better future.

The word Makarrata is used. “Makarrata is a Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice.”[8] Past must be reckoned with before a flourishing future can be born. “How could it be otherwise? That people possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?”[9] (The word sacred is used here, making this statement a work of theology.) For when possession is denied and death occurs, lamentation inevitably follows.[10] And sometimes, according to Biblical history, confession and reconciliation.

I respond to the Uluru statement—through music, history and theology. I study laments, particularly David expressing heartbreak towards the place of Saul and Jonathan’s death—Mount Gilboa. I deepen this with Katherine Sonderegger’s analysis of the Servant Song from the prophet Isaiah. I confess white Australia’s wrongdoings. I look at Uluru and its history. I see a correspondence between the narrative of David returning Saul and Jonathan’s bones (2 Sam 21), and recent events.[11] I attempt to give an echo—a faint reply to their sorrow and hope, using my own and my forebears’ sounds. In this I seek a way to give religious expression from within.[12] My work has been deeply based on lines of music, used in canonic form. Tim Ingold has explored the use of lines in human culture. I examine his ‘theory of lines’ in terms of music, narrative and theology. I analyse my own compositions,[13] and my former teacher, Peter Sculthorpe[14]—particularly in our expression of sorrow.

As part of this process, I think about where I personally have lived or ‘tabernacled’. I look at three places near to me—Warragamba, my first six months, Seaforth/Bantry Bay, my childhood and youth, and Emu Plains, where we now live—discovering the dimensions of Aboriginal and white history found there—and relate it to my music.

I spend my childhood just north of Seaforth, the Aboriginal engraving site is further north near to the Wakehurst Parkway, the place

of my birth is near Sydney Harbour National Park (North Head).

Why this topic in a theological thesis? These words from Garry Worete Deverell, an Indigenous Trawloolway man from Tasmania, help give an answer:

“The most common form of theology in this country continues to exercise a strategic forgetting about the genocidal sin at the foundation of the nation. … The vast majority of theological utterances I have heard and read from apparently ‘Australian’ theologians continue to pretend that none of this has happened, that the vocation of Australian theology need nothing other than a positively framed elaboration of European concerns and theories.”[15]

Bartolomé de Las Casas[16] resisted the dehumanisation of the indigenous people under Spanish colonial rule. “He wrote in a culture in which … ancient texts and traditions had primary authority, not contemporary eyewitness accounts. … But Las Casas brought a new kind of authority to bear—the authority of personal experience.”[17]

Lament and homecoming is a theme which crosses disciplinary boundaries and forms of discourse. It touches on many forms of human exploration, discovery and creativity. Sonderegger has commented that this is the ‘movement of Eternity’—

“For the dogma of the Trinity teaches us that love, real goodness, is first a living shape … It has made the ‘movement of Eternity’, the sacrifice laid down and received, the descent and breaking, breaking open, and the return, carrying the sheaves. The Holy Trinity is this Perfect, Eternal Motion, the swelling, full Tide of Holiness, that breaks out and recedes, pours down and turns again home. The Procession of God is Living Depth, welling forth, the Fecundity of Love, cascading down, burning, blazing, and rising up, always upwards to Infinite Light, as Infinite Light.”[18]

The pull to place is thus universal—but God has shown that only through humility and suffering we can truly find it (Phil 2:6–11; Ps 51:17–19).[19]

Chapter 1


“Lamentation is, in its deepest sense, mythical,” explains Gershom Scholem,“[i]n it, myth itself seeks exit to a world to which there is no access, in which one can and cannot be, but into which, since eternity, no one can reach from another world.”[20] This mythical reality “is of such great internal truth,” that Judaism was able to attempt “to elevate lament to the perspective of the divine.”[21] Like love for God, this yearning is unfulfilled—“Only yearning, only this suffering fills the Ego. It is in this suffering of yearning for he who knows me that the Ego is dissolved.”[22] Scholem describes it as a language that has “no object, no speaking subject, and no addressee.”[23] Often laments were written in the alphabetical acrostic—encompassing all language, and destroying all language. “The acrostic is the magical form in which the infinity of language is spellbound. Lament is thus in poetry what death is in the sphere of life.”[24]

Some refer to “icons of crying” in the lament tradition. Elizabeth Tolbert disagrees, she says a lament is “an iconic performance of crying.”[25] “[A]n icon of crying is similar to but not actually ‘real’ crying.”[26] She gives this analysis of a Finnish-Karelian lament: “Poised at the nexus between voice and body, self and other, the lamenter creates an intersubjective understanding of emotional pain by expressing the inexpressible, by rendering the isolation of individual mourning into an intensely communal experience.”[27]

Earlier anthropological studies of the lament focussed on its social nature. “Lament was seen as a social duty imposed on the afflicted persons that expressed the need for social cohesion rather than a sincere feeling of personal pain.”[28] More recently, studies have seriously questioned this, for they feel the individual/social dichotomy is misconceived. Laments are no longer thought of a “way to transform an individual expression of authentic grief into a socially regimented one;”[29] instead, there is “the dynamic interplay of individual expression and collective forms and sentiments.”[30] Social and individual are in a dynamic interplay. Funerary laments are “highly equivocal.”[31] They display “an ongoing oscillation between stylization and affective outburst.”[32] A lament is something in-between—not isolated crying, nor unison singing, but “a complex pattern of multiple overlapping voices.”[33] In laments “personal sentiment and stipulated practice are not so much seamlessly melded as they are shown to be imperfectly alloyed.”[34]

In Ireland[35] a lament was more than a conventional performance;  it was “a means of expressing a sense of personal…loss, grief, love, sorrow and bitterness.”[36] It has a number of important features: it was sung in the presence of the dead, it was an act of healing at the time of loss, and it was an assertion of power—for here, at the moment of passing, the structures of faith via for authority: “‘the heathenish customs of loud cries and howlings at wakes and burials’ were condemned by the Bishop in Leighlin, near Carlow, on the quite inaccurate grounds that ‘no such practice is found in any other Christian country.’”[37]

In the wake of mass emigration from the time of the Famine and onwards, a leaving ceremony was performed, known as the ‘American Wake.’[38] The people’s songs contained both cumha [grief] and waigneas [loneliness].[39] When someone left people believed it was the last you would see of them. Often the journey could result in death: ‘Coffin ships’ was the term used to describe the often-unseaworthy vessels.[40] Exile was also associated with a search for freedom and identity. “[T]he whole narrative web is a symbol of the tensions and tragedy of emigration, of the expression of family bonds and the dialectical relation to marital ties, or island ideology, of the both cumha and waigneas [sorrow and loneliness] inherent in the human condition, all of it situated in a common Northern European cultural framework.”[41]

Lament is a powerful means of dealing with grief and injustice. Modern psychotherapy has long recognised the healing power of lament and mourning; that openly expressing the pain of suffering can alleviate its impact on the sufferer. We need to cry, tears to flow, bodies to rock. We need to express our anger. The nature of lament is profoundly spiritual and profoundly political, so through the language of lament we can rail against God and the powers responsible for the pain and injustices we suffer.[42]

Time must be given for this, time that creates mutual respect and trust.[43]  We need courage to see another’s authentic self, and to let our authentic self be seen.

David’s Lament

“A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel”(2 Sam 1:19).

Mount Gilboa was the place where Saul and Jonathan died (1 Sam 31:1–6). It has an extending history—earlier, in Gideon’s time, it was where he and his men drank at the bottom of the mountain (Judges 7:1–8); later, in 1183, it was where a Crusader battle with Saladin occurred; in 1260, it was where the Mamluks stopped the Mongol invasion into Egypt; it overlooks Megiddo, the place of the final eschatological battle (Rev 16:16). Place is important—grief is inscribed there: verse 21 addresses the Mountains of Gilboa, David exhorts the hills to mourn— “O mountains of Gilboa, may there be no dew; no rain upon you, O fruitful fields. For here the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul not anointed with oil” (2 Sam 1:21).[44] David later asks the daughters of Israel to weep (v.24), “the dryness of the hills provides a contrast to their tears”[45]—humans grieve through tears, the earth grieves through its dryness. “[S]ometimes other-than-human persons are more like neighbours, grief-stricken ones, who share in loss and bereavement.”[46] It is recorded in the book of Jashar.[47]

“Hebrew has only one word both for lament (Klage) and lamentation (Klagelied): kina. Perhaps, indeed, the languages of symbolic objects have no other possibility to become languages of poetry except in the state of lament.”[48] 1 Sam 16 records David’s gift as a lyre player, 2 Sam 23 speaks of God’s anointing—in this passage, we are given a rich example of his inspired poetry. The lament or elegy is a unified whole; it includes a number of key words, phrases and a refrain[49] modulated to “provide symmetry and asymmetry, balance and productive imbalance.”[50] Brueggemann describes it as a “deeply moving, pathos-filled personal statement,” praising its “directness, passion, and innocence,” while noting that it exists as a “public reality.”[51] It speaks glowingly of their achievements and mourns their deaths while denigrating their effectiveness as leaders of Israel.[52] “Perhaps it is best interpreted as David’s attempt not only to express his own feelings but also to make some sense of God’s providence as it played out in the tragedy of Saul.”[53]

It laments for the fallen king and for his son [2 Sam 1: (17-18) 19-27]— “How the mighty have fallen!” Prophetically, it speaks of future time, when Israel would lose another king. It speaks of Israel’s enemies rejoicing, nature mourning, it laments over their former victories which are no more; it instructs the women of court to grieve, and expresses bitter sorrow for the one most dear to him—Jonathan. It is beautiful and haunting, noble and true. It grieves for what was—its glory, its heroism, its speaks of tenderness and joy. What is, is no longer.

Sonderegger examines Jonathon’s love for David, as a sign of God’s Love. Jonathan gives up everything for David, his inheritance, his robes, his armour, his right to kingship, even his own soul, to form a covenant of love (1 Sam 18:1). Yet nothing is said about David, neither his desires or response. “Jonathan, without prompting and without exchange or recognition, simple loves.”[54] Sondregger askes, is this not an echo of Divine Love? Jonathan’s life shows a love burning without need or dependence on the other. Jonathan’s love was triumphant (2 Sam 1:23–26)—although he had no throne, no long life, no vindication from his father. Jonathan seems made for love. His love echoes another—“His Way of Love, His very Life, radiates out into the cold world, burning, lighting the way, welcoming and beckoning, always omnipotent, always good.”[55] David in his lament, elegies this kind of love.

In the final section of the poem David speaks in the first person— “I grieve for you… how dear you were to me… more wonderous was your love for me.” This triplet form—which is often used for emphasis (like the women’s weeping for Saul in v.24, the only other triplet form in the lament)—helps to explains the difference between Saul and Jonathan.[56] A vocative is used (“I am distressed for you” v.26), but unlike the earlier verses (“O Hills of Gilboa” and “O Daughters of Israel” vv.21/24) there is a strong need (a requiredness)[57] for a name to be added (i.e. “my brother Jonathan”) —upsetting the balance of the lines, but strengthening the ‘wholeness’ of the stanza.[58] It “create[s] an asymmetrical but tightly patterned poem that begins as a lament for a fallen king and his son but ends as a personal expression of grief over Jonathan.”[59]


When wrong doing is done—by an individual or a community—God asks us to confess. Confession details the sins.[60]

After the details of the Law and the events recorded in Leviticus, God speaks of rewards for obedience—

“I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.”[61]

—and punishments for disobedience—

“I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.”[62]

Then God speaks of confession—

“But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.”[63]

Confession—with humble hearts—is a key factor in covenant loyalty.[64] I confess our Nation’s sins in regard to the ownership of land—i.e. sovereignty. For God requires honesty[65]


“You shall not steal.” Ex 20:15

The Holocaust scholar Bjorn Krondorfer holds that “[t]he universalizing tendency of Christian theology is one mechanism that assists in turning a blind eye to one’s own particular historical, cultural and moral situatedness”[66]

“Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.”[67]

In a 1971 case before the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Justice Maurice Blackburn declared that—“on the foundation of New South Wales … and of South Australia, every square inch of territory in the colony became the property of the Crown.”[68] Justice Isaac Isaacs, in an earlier High Court Case, stated that “when Governor Phillip received his first Commission from King George III on 12th October 1786, the whole lands of Australia were already in law the property of the King of England.”[69] This was an act of theft—four hundred million hectares of land, half the continent. “The original act of expropriation was by any measure the most disastrous decision in Australia’s history.”[70]

Frontier conflict was “an irresistible accompaniment of Australian colonisation,”[71] but the act of expropriation is the deeper matter. Britain and British law are the issue—for policy towards Australia was determined there. The legal arguments in support of this are noted, with arguments against explained:

(1) Terra nullius. When Phillip entered Port Jackson in 1788, he did not seek the consent of the natives. The British officials who advised Phillip, paid close attention to Joseph Banks and James Matra, two men who had been with Cook, who argued that the land was the ‘solitary haunt of a few miserable savages’ and held, concerning the inland, that ‘we may have liberty to conjecture that [it is] totally uninhabited.’[72] Phillip was concerned that there were far more aboriginal people than he was led to believe. When he went into the hinterland he ‘was surprised to find temporary huts made by the natives far inland.’[73] It soon became apparent that the interior was in fact richly populated.

(2) The British had conquered Australia. Emmerich de Vattel—a widely respected international lawyer of the eighteenth century—explained by contrast, that “[t]he conqueror takes possession of the property of the State and leaves the individuals untouched.”[74] Individuals are untouched, they simply experience a change in sovereigns. Chief Justice John Marshall of the American Supreme Court ruled in 1833: “The people change their alliance; their relations to their ancient sovereign are dissolved, but their relations to each other, and their rights of property remain undisturbed.”[75]

(3) The aboriginals had no rights to the possession of land in which they travelled. The third NSW Governor, Philip Gidley King, however, observed that he “ever considered them the real proprietors of the soil.”[76] “Succeeding governors came to the same conclusion.”[77]

(4) Some observed that ownership was based on farming, for only farmers were able to work the land. British law however gave room for uncultivated land, land for hunting and fishing, and ornamental parks for the aristocracy. G F von Martens, in The Law of Nations (1788), observed: “If possession be immemorial, if there exists no possession anterior to it; it is undoubtedly sufficient to set aside all pretensions of others … founded upon the duration of this possession, it is the consequence of the natural impossibility of any other to prove a right better founded than that of possession.”[78] International law relating to possession was defined definitively by Frederick Carl von Savigny in 1803. In his Treatise on Possession four principles were laid down: “Possession, independent of all rights, is the foundation of property;” in any conflicts, proof is found by the adversary; it was “only necessary to be present on the land, without the performance of any other act thereon;” one must maintain ownership—he refers to alpine pastures: “whoever…omits to visit the [land], does not thereby manifest any intention of giving up the Possession.”[79]

Christian Wolff’s The Law of Nations (1750) demonstrates that international law was sympathetic to tribal societies: He refers to “mixed communal holdings;” he speaks of families that “are understood to have tacitly agreed that the lands in that territory in which they change their abodes as they please are held in common, subject to the use of individuals, and it is not to be doubted but that it is their intention that they should not be deprived of that use by outsiders.”[80] Six years later, the British crown recognized “that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians, with whom We are connected, and who live under Our protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as … are reserved them, as their Hunting Grounds…”[81] This proclamation has been ever since seen as a Magna Carta. “It was a law which followed the flag as England assumed jurisdiction over newly discovered or acquired lands or territories.”[82]

The Chief Justice John Marshall of the American Supreme Court made a series of authoritative rulings from 1801 to 1835. He began with the determination that America had been “inhabited by a distinct people” governed by their own laws. He held that it was an “extravagant and absurd idea that the feeble settlements made on the seacoast…acquired legitimate power…to govern the people, or occupy the lands from sea to sea.”[83] The Native Americans were “admitted to be the rightful occupants of the soil, with a legal as well as just claim to retain possession of it.”[84] They made no distinction between different land uses: “…their hunting grounds were as much in the actual possession as the cleared fields of the whites.”[85]

The House of Commons Select Committee on Aborigines (British Settlements) issued reports in 1836 and 1837. Buxton, the chair, observed that “It might be presumed that the native inhabitants of any land have an incontrovertible right to their own soil: a plain and sacred right, however, which seems not to have been understood. Europeans have entered their borders uninvited, and, when here, have not only acted as if they were undoubted lords of the soil, but have punished the natives as aggressors if they have evinced a disposition to live in their own country.”[86] This was a strong condemnation of the policies of the Australian colonisers from 1788 onwards.

G A Robinson, the Chief Protector for Aborigines, visited the office of the surveyor-general in Melbourne in 1840; he was shown maps with huge allotments for the settlers, but without a ‘single reserve for the blacks.’ He wrote in his journal, “There is a complete system of expulsion and Extermination for the first Purchaser of their lands drive them on the other Purchased lands and then on ad infinitum.”[87] He later reported that in all discussions with the pastoralists “there was never any mention of the claim of the Aboriginal peoples ‘to a reasonable share in the Soil of their fatherland’.”[88] Earl Grey the British secretary of state wrote to Governor Fitzroy, instructing “that the leases are not intended to deprive the natives of their former right to hunt over these Districts, or to wander over them in search of subsistence, in a manner to which they have been heretofore accustomed.”[89] Grey reemphases this, as a matter “of very great importance.”[90] Soon self-government was to be offered. Grey warned the colonial government that in “assuming their territories the Settlers [had] incurred a moral obligation of the most sacred kind.”[91]

In 1992 when the Mabo decision was made—declaring that the Meriam people were “entitled against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment” of their traditional land[92]—the conclusion was clear: “The British had expropriated the land without compensation. It was a land grab almost without precedent.”[93] Reynolds questions how it is possible for this to occur “under the aegis of the common law.”[94] He notes that this happened while the Aboriginal people were British subjects, the “beneficiaries of the King’s peace.”[95] Property rights were central to British law. A central theme in common law was to defend the subject’s property from appropriation by the Crown.[96] Many argue that the First Fleet brought with them British law. “So how had the Crown acquired the landed property of First Nations across vast stretches of territory without their permission and without providing compensation?”[97]

Reynolds continues—“…how and why was this outstanding anomaly allowed to determine what happened to tens of thousands of men, women and children for 200 years?”[98] The law was, in fact “profoundly subverted. Hundreds of years of tradition were overturned.”[99] The convicts who were imprisoned here, were often here because of theft. The first hangings—performed before the entire convict population at the end of February 1788—were of five men convicted of theft. But just three weeks earlier, half the continent was declared Crown land—“one of the most remarkable acts of plunder in modern times.”[100]

Why is the profound injustice visited upon the First Nations not treated with the appropriate gravity?[101]

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about the eye—

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”[102]

The meaning of ‘healthy’ is generous. ‘Unhealthy’ implies stingy or greedy. Ancient thought differed as to whether eyes emitted or admitted light. In this passage, it seems that the eyes are the means by which light or darkness proceeds the body, although it is possible that the reference to the body being full of light (or darkness) may indicate that the eyes admit light (or darkness).[103] Jesus continues—

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”[104]

“Mammon’ is the here translated as ‘money’—a common Aramaic term referring to property or money.[105] Which do we serve? Darkness proceeds from our National soul.

In Terra Pax[106]

“It is music of a timeless lament-like quality.”[107]

Peace on Earth. Written in 1979, for cello and piano. I found my voice in this composition. It speaks of our national sorrow, and the gravity and silence of the earth. Two influences, the Rilke poem, Autumn: “And in the night the heavy earth is falling from all the stars into loneliness” and the Monteverdi Gloria a 7 da Selva Morale e Spirituale: the ‘In Terra Pax’ section, in which the music is falling yet remaining the same. When it was composed, I was studying with Peter Sculthorpe. He had recently composed Mangrove. I was recovering from my first breakup in love. At that time, I went to the carvings site near my home and thought more deeply about Aboriginal Australia. “The piece relates closely to the progress of a throbbing chord on the piano, static at the outset, but seems to fall and dissolve by the end of the work.”[108]

The cello melody is influenced by the study of shakuhachi melodies, particularly their often-full unfolding at the end. The piano chord (bar 18—page 2) represents the earth—giving a sense of wholeness, mystery and peace. Later, as it falls (bar 83 onwards—page 5) it falls (with the cello melody) over stillness.

Introduction—like stars twinkling—Piano and high cello. See ‘Astronomical Symbolism in Australian Aboriginal Rock Art’.[109] Cello theme—fallen major second, rising minor second—it expands, contracts—and uses harmonics.

Piano chord (s) occurs next—like the earth, stationary, still. It then moves to a second chord. A cello long note follows with the introductory measures in piano. A slow cello theme (with pizzicato bass notes), it builds up—then the first cello theme returns (stated more forcefully).

Slow cello theme continues, with double stop notes added, then with pizzicato—moving towards an end. Piano chord(s)—stationary—high cello note added—then the chords begin falling. The cello melody follows with a gradual descent to low D flat (influenced by study of shakuhachi melodies).

Chords falling

Opening chord (slightly changed) with cello pizzicato—i.e. fragments of first section—a final chord with a tiny descent. Loneliness, peace.[110]

Lines are featured—the long lines in the cello melody; and lines of harmony—for the this is what the piano music could be called—from the stationary chord (bar 18) to the unfolding descent (bar 83) over emptiness.[111]

“For the Rainbow Spirit Elders, the story of the Fall of Nature is inextricably linked to European entry into Aboriginal Australia: this the moment that Creation fell.”[112] In his book, The Lamb Enters the Dreaming, Robert Kenny examines the conversion of Aboriginal man, Nathanael Pepper in 1860—it was “a stepping out of a despairing present into a redeeming present.”[113] This is the meaning of the title: In Terra Pax, Peace on Earth.

Lines theory—and its relevance to my music

Tim Ingold, the British anthropologist, has extensively examined the use of lines in human culture: “What do walking, weaving, observing, singing, storytelling, drawing and writing have in common? The answer is that they all proceed along lines of one kind or another.”[114] In Inuit culture for example, a person becomes a line when he moves; the whole country is seen as a “mesh of interweaving lines.”[115] One’s identity is partly defined in the act of traveling to from a place, a continuing process of growth and self-renewal[116]—“life happens while travelling. Other travellers are met, children are born, and hunting fishing and other subsistence activities are performed.”[117] In Walbiri culture, a person’s life is summed up in their tracks; woven into the texture of the earth “are the lines of growth and movement of its inhabitants.”[118] However frail and ephemeral, these movements are “etched in the memories of those who follow them.”[119] For the Kaluli of Papua New Guinea the naming of places is a remembrance of travelling the path on which it lies.[120] “To tell a story, then, is to relate, in a narrative, the occurrence of the past, retracing a path through the world for others, recursively picking up the threads of past lives, can follow in the process of spinning out their own.”[121]

For the Khanty people of western Siberia, the word ‘story’ means a way—a path to be followed.[122] Stories should not end, as life should not. The Orochon hunters[123] embody this in their saddles—as saddles are inherited, so each generation “takes up and carries on the stories of its predecessors.”[124] The stories of the individual hunter are thus “re-embodied by wrapping the frame in fresh hide softened and sewn by women.”[125] To obtain a saddle in this way, means that the descendant has inherited the forebear’s knowledge; he knows “how to do things properly.”[126]

Walbiri figuration makes much use of spirals; for them life moves in currents around a centre—a place. The ancestor emerges from here, making camps in “an ever-widening spiral, until he eventually heads off and away.”[127] And when he returns he conducts “the same movement in reverse.”[128] In the centre, however, nothing moves; yet an “ancestral potency” lives there, and is “periodically re-embodied in the generations of living people it brings forth”[129]—for the living in their everyday activities retrace the movements of their ancestors, and eventually return there to die.[130] The land carries “the lines of growth and movement of its inhabitants.”[131]

This wayfaring is a movement of becoming: humans grow into the fabric of the world “and contribute through their movements to its ever-evolving weave.”[132] Henri Bergson likened it to an eddy cast in a stream, “the living being is, above all, a thoroughfare.”[133] Our narrative interweaves present and past lives; we are like “a creeper which probes the earth… the continuous progress of the past which gnaws unto the future and which swells as it advances.”[134] The past continues—we can remember the way.

Ingold uses the metaphor of polyphonic music: “As each player, in turn, picks up the melody and takes it forward, it introduces another line of counterpoint to those already running. Each line answers or co-responds to every other”[135] This entwining of lines is our sociality.[136] Like a rope in many strands, we continually interweave.[137] It is more than the sum of each part: “It is not additive but contrapuntal.”[138]

As children of a union, we are ‘knit together’ in the ‘womb’.[139] Each line then goes its own way, only to form, when it right, other knots, “spreading the mesh of kinship far and wide.”[140] Kinship and affinity are produced. The heart (Latin cor) is, like the French horn (cor), a tube in a knot: “Cor, cord, chord and choir all share the same root meaning of the knot.”[141] Another word, ‘tradition’, originally meant ‘to hand over’ (tradere). In medieval times the monastic scholars would retrace the letter-line of the liturgical texts while quietly murmuring the sounds: “The monks habitually compared their practice to that of wayfaring through a landscape. Every story in the scriptures, like every trail in the landscape, would lay down a path along which their movement would proceed, and each trail—each story—would take the scribe or reader so far before handing over to the next.”[142]

Life—instead of listing its milestones as in a curriculum vitae—passes through them, as a river passes between its banks; it pulls “away from them as it sweeps by.”[143] Life is in “the middle voice… the doer is inside the process of his doing, inside the verb.”[144] Rather than joining up, it is a joining with—“a gathering of materials in movement, as in carpentry, basketry and textiles, which develop a feel for one another—that is, a sympathy—on the inside.”[145] This kinship “is a mesh of lines, not a set of connections.”[146] It features an attending to each other—an abiding, a caring, a doing their bidding.[147] Religion, according to one version of its etymology, is a re-bending (compound of re [again] and ligare [to bind or fasten])—“lines and knotting seem to be at the heart of it.”[148] It is not about holding beliefs concerning life, instead it is about corresponding with it.[149] Religious faith, as theologian Peter Candler expresses it, “is founded on a grammar of participation, not representation.”[150] We commune with the world, we open ourselves up the being of another,[151] we empathise.[152] Ingold explains that this alternative can help “heal the rupture between the world and our imagination of it.”[153]

[Personal Excursus—Music: exile and new life

I had a long exile from composition—twenty years. I thought that I had lost my ability. In any case, I was occupied with my work in the church as an assistant pastor. In 2014 I had major difficulties—I was put on trial because my beliefs about the age of the earth. During this time, I had a stroke. As a result, I fare-welled my life as a pastor. God was involved, nevertheless—my wife Clare suggested that I transcribe my last major composition, The Sweet Sorrow, into Finale. (Finale has a playback option). I started transcribing all of my earlier works. Listening to them made me wonder about starting again.

My former theology lecturer, Ben Myers, wrote a book about the Apostles Creed.[154] In the first chapter, he wrote about the first word, I. He suggested that the I is a communal voice. This inspired me. I decided to write a piece not based on my own work, but upon a plainchant—Veni Sanctus Spiritus, used in a canonic form—i.e. no melodic part of it was mine. I next wrote Veni Creator Spiritus, also in canonic form. Like the days of creation, one followed after another—each similar in regard to canons, but different and fresh. I couldn’t stop. Seventy-nine pieces based on plainchants, thirty-one pieces of Jewish cantillation, seventy-one pieces of Scottish pibrochs, twelve of Icelandic music, twenty-nine Aboriginal transcriptions, seventy-six Breton melodies, sixty-two Northumbrian and Scottish melodies, one hundred and twenty-eight Irish melodies, ninety-two English…—700 pieces in all. Each composition was a meditation on the beauty of a melodic line.[155]

What I had lost, I more than gained. These words from Hosea apply to me!—

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
   I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achora door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt (Hosea 2:14–15).

Achor means trouble. ‘Respond’— ‘sing’.]

Not I but we

In Ben Myer’s discussion of the Apostle’s Creed, he notes that “[t]he first word is perhaps the strangest part of the whole Apostles’ creed: “I.” Who is the I? Whose voice is speaking in the creed?”[156] Often at wedding ceremonies the couples make their own vows—they believe their own words would be truer than those in the given vows. But he notes a paradox—“It is the individual confession … that ends up sounding like an echo of the wider society.” Often it ends up sounding like a cliché. The harder we try to sound unique, the more alike we sound.

“When we say the creed we are not just expressing our own views or our own priorities. We are joining our voices to a great communal voice that calls out across the centuries from every tribe and tongue. We locate ourselves as part of a community that transcends time and place.”[157]

It distances us from our time and place, we speak beyond our moment. For the truest words that we can say are communal words. “All are invited to be immersed into a reality beyond themselves and to join their individual voices to a communal voice that transcends them all.”[158] These words have roots.


I use lines of melody in canonic form, i.e. each melody stays as it is, but exists within a multiple counterpoint. This was mostly a musical decision, but one that had rich potential. I use canons as a musical means to discover, highlight, and elaborate the original melody. There is a certain similarity to laments, which often have multiple overlapping voices.[159] It adds chiaroscuro, depth, drama—and lightness. Often harmony results—sometimes beautiful, at other times, we sense each part moving towards its goal in a mysterious providence—which has its own beauty.[160] I can view this in a meta-textual way—metaphorically expressing something of God’s providence, i.e. working with the ‘free-will’ of the melodies—but crafting them (owing to their canonic position). In Renaissance and Baroque music each melody has its own integrity, yet a harmony is formed. I do something similar, although my rules are looser.

Canons are a more artful version of unwritten simple imitative pieces that use this title—for example “Row, row, row your boat” and “Frere Jacques”[161]— “such pieces came into their own, along with many other tour-de-force genres, precisely in the fourteenth century.[162] Richard Taruskan speaks of a canon by Machaut: ‘Lay of the Fountain’ (Lai de la fonteinne). “The chase[163] serves as a metaphor’s metaphor: a single melody running through all three voices in a musical representation of trinus in unitate (“three in one”), the verbal emblem of the Trinity.”[164] The Machaut canon is a meditation on love.[165]

I believe there is much potential between the interlinking of melodies and the comparison with love. The philosopher William Desmond has noted there is a hyperbolic dimension in love. “Love throws us above ourselves.”[166] “We come to ourselves above ourselves.”[167] Love exceeds what we thought we could do by ourselves, for love has the ability to make us “porous to communication with what is other than ourselves.”[168] There is an energy that carries us forward, even beyond ourselves—“this is the secret agent of fructifying life.”[169] In a relationship’s conditional circumstances “something more unconditional comes to be forged.”[170] In marriage or friendship there is a spirit of generosity, a putting of the other first; a consideration and a courtesy that suspends itself in making way for the other; “a paradoxical porosity, there and not there; robust and retiring; endeavouring everything and doing nothing; flowing like water that cannot be resisted…”[171] “If you weren’t my friend I wouldn’t know who I was, she said. … No, she agreed. I wouldn’t know who I was either.”[172] These insights apply to the interweaving of melodies within canons—there is a “lived ecstasis”[173] that can exceed a single voice. Like the counterpoint in a sixteenth century composition, this combination of lines can be high and exalted and full of light. (I note that Sculthorpe’s favourite composers where Palestrina and Tomas Luis de Victoria.)[174] 


Balanchine (1904–1983), the ballet choreographer, held that, in regard to clarity and precision of ballet, “Nobody criticizes the sun or moon or the earth because it is very precise, and that’s why it has life. If it’s not precise, it falls to pieces.”[175] This sense of order is a characteristic of my music—the correct length of a phase, the ordering of the entries, a sense of proportion.

Beauty is found in the distinctive features of life—an order that is always fresh.

“The days of creation form a series, an unfolding string of distinct acts that are both fresh each morning and continuous. …The day, Genesis tells us, consists of an evening and a morning, the twilight and night hours leading the way, the sunrise and daylight hours rounding out the whole: One Day. The distinctions belong to the perfect work: the demarcate it. They make a strong contrast with one another, but a contrast that is placed in rhythm and motion, much as seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, cold and heat that set forth the Noachide Covenant.”[176]


Gershom Scholem[177] was attracted to mathematics. In 1919 he wrote to his parents: “I intend to devote myself to scholarship, and more specifically to philosophy and two of its related fields—mathematics and Judaic studies.”[178] He was drawn to mathematics because of its purity. In his work on lamentation, he noted that it is a linguistic form—“a mode of expression or expressionlessness”[179]—that is not to be found in any other linguistic expression. He used a “topographical metaphor to describe lament as a language situated on the very border between two lands: revelation and silence. Lament is a language of border, a liminal language.” [180] Mathematics is a symbolic language, “a language that is written but not spoken, symbolic but not communicative.”[181] Its purity is helpful. Those who looked at the sand dunes in the heartland of Australian landscape saw their “subtle relations as intertwining as they [stretched] over the land.”[182] Charles Sturt saw them as extending “northwards in parallel lines behind [his] range of vision … like the waves of the sea.”[183]  Maths can be used to portray this. Each element in my recent music behaves mathematically—the canonic entries, each time the same; or, if they are at half the speed, the entries are also proportionately slowed; the sense of proportion; often the order of instrumentation; the timing of the return of sections. I set something up at the beginning, and I continue it. Sculthorpe noted that his musical score appears to “give the appearance of the geological map.”[184]

My music’s intersection with line theory

In discussing wayfaring, Tim Ingold makes a comparison between Medieval practice and Indigenous thought. For Medieval scholars “…the meditative practice of reading liturgical texts was a process of wayfaring. Again, and again, they would compare their texts to a terrain through which they would make their way like hunters on the trail, drawing on, or ‘pulling in’, things they encountered, or events to which they bore witness, along the paths they travelled.”[185] For them, “to study a tradition is to track a creature, as though one were a hunter, back through time.”[186] Each creature has its own story—to study it is act of remembrance. In Indigenous society, a hunter reads the land. They attend to the multiple clues that the land conveys, including “‘animal movements, trails, old and new camps and cabins, marks on the land, wood, snow and ice conditions in winter, river-banks in summer, and places where events have unfolded.’ Wherever they go, [they] are listening, remembering, learning, taking counsel from the land. It is their teacher.”[187]

I have learnt follow the paths of a melody. I sense where it might take me. I know it’s ‘tracks’—I follow it wherever it leads me—each time different. I have learnt to ‘inhabit’ the tunes. Above all, I let them be. There is a mutual growth however—I grow into them, as they grow into me.[188] In the Ojibwa society, a man heard the thunder bird[189] by listening and responding. It was not a matter of translation, “but of empathy, of establishing a communion of feeling and affect or, in short, of opening oneself up to the being of another.” [190] The novices in Medieval times learnt “to connect events and experiences of their own lives to the lives of predecessors, recursively picking up strands of these past lives in the process of spinning out their own. But rather as in looping of knitting, the strand being spun now and the strand picked up from the past are both of the same yarn. There is no point at which the story ends and life begins. Stories should not end for the same reason that life should not.”[191] I likewise listen to the past, letting each melody remain as it was, yet ‘pick up the strand’—for their life continues. I am of the same yarn.

“Suppose, for example, that you are surveying a landscape for evidence of ancient trackways. The more ephemeral paths will have long since disappeared, wiped ways by wind and weather, and by the effects of subsequent land use. But of the most heavily used tracks, which would once have cut deep grooves in the landscape worn by feet, hooves, and cartwheels, visible traces still remain.”[192]

I use traditional melodies[193]—of my spiritual past (Christian and Jewish), of my cultural past (my Scottish, Irish, English and Breton heritage), and, potentially, of my ‘country’s past’ (Aboriginal transcriptions)—“the present underwrites what, of the past, is left over.” [194] My present can penetrate the past, as the past rises.

“By visiting these sites one would recall the stories and meet the characters as though they were alive and present, harnessing their wisdom and powers to the task of crafting one’s own thought and experience, and of giving it sense and direction.”[195]

Like a visionary, I can at times have a revelation of the “inner reality of which the world’s outwards, visible forms were but appearances,”[196] opening a path to experience God.[197]


I use chance in my compositional process. When I select a canonic measurement—i.e. the distance between canonic entries—the unfolding of the melodies’ counterpoint and harmony occurs by chance. I try a number of different combinations until I find one that I like. I choose the speed, instrumentation, register. I have, therefore, harmonic outcomes—but they come from the coincidence of lines (through my liking of the placement), rather than pre-determined. The use of chance has been liberating. “Chance operations,” John Cage wrote, “are a means of locating a single one among a multiplicity of answers, and, at the same time, of freeing the ego from its taste and memory, its concern for profit and power, of silencing the ego so that the rest of the world has a chance to enter into the ego’s own experience whether that be outside or inside”[198] (Hermann Cohen, in his description of laments, said that “the Ego is dissolved.”[199]) Eckhart (1260–1328) influenced Cage—he encouraged him “to accept phenomena as they occur.”[200] By nurturing an empty framework, we allow the unknown to be seen as it is.[201] Chance leads to openness and discovery. Cage held that “composition by intuition or inspiration does not permit one to learn anything.”[202] My point is midway—I choose and don’t choose.[203]


Often in Biblical history God orders history according to his covenant (via law and cult). These deep structures “helps order human life so that it is tune with the creational order intended by God.” [204] The fixed order of the canons, the sense of continuity—these help structurally: “Law is given to serve the proper development of God’s good but not perfect creation … towards its fullest possible life-giving potential.”[205] But in my music a rawness can be felt as well—melodies do not always coincide; harmonies can be out of step—“The order of our lives appears so often imposed from the ruthlessness of the outside world: we are bound and taken where we do not wish to go. … Few lives appear graced by the dignity of ‘narrative shape’, … Human life itself seems to be a ‘mixed genre’…of high and low style somehow joined together.”[206]


“The roots, following the contours of the outcrop and penetrating its crevasses, hold the rock in an iron grip. But up above, delicate needles vibrate to the merest puff of wind. … How is it possible for such ageless solidity and ephemeral volatility to brought into unison?”[207]

By using other melodies—from my cultural and spiritual past—I have engaged in a kinship process. This has been wonderfully enriching for me. When I work with a melody I feel its beauty—each rise and fall, the way it can through canon harmonize, its movements toward home. Each time I grow through what it gives me. Remarkably, this has links to Aboriginal culture, where kinship is foundational—

“And when I asked one of the young leaders if he would draw me a picture of the whole cosmos, he drew a little tiny circle and then put a ring of circles around it and joined them all to the central circle. Then he put a second ring around of more circles, and joined them to the outer ring. I said, now what is it? He pointed to the middle circle and said, that’s me. Then he pointed to the ring of circles around it, and said, that’s my relations. I said, what’s that outer ring? He said, that’s my other relations.  There was a gap at one end of this where he was exposed on the side and there were no connections around it—there wasn’t a closed outer circle. And, I said to him, just on the spur of the moment, and what’s outside that one, the outside circle? A stunned look came on his face. He asked me a question, is there anything? Everything that existed, in terms of relationships. And that is the best illustration I have ever had of the way Aboriginal thought works. Without relationships, a man is nothing.”[208]

Theology of lines

Katherine Sonderegger has theorized about lines. God is infinitely real and absolute perfect—yet he has movement and direction, reflected in the pilgrimages of Israel:

“Like Israel in its pilgrimage, Goodness moves out, moves away and downward, down into Egypt-land, down into foreign captivity of Babylon, out into the region of the gentiles, to the edges of the earth, but Goodness is even more the movement home, the rejoicing in return, the new life, snatched from death, the feast and the festival, the welcome and the peace that breaks out over the troubled earth. This Good who is Triune lives Eternally this Life, the Cosmic Shape of Goodness. The Lord is Sacrifice, descent and ascent, the Offering that is Well Pleasing, the Great Amen. This is the Living Form of Love.”[209]

Chapter 2

Isaiah 53

The experience of powerlessness and suffering of the First Nations peoples can be linked to that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. By reading them together we magnify both.

The Uluru Statement confirms that—

“Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are alienated from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

“These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.”[210]

I look at Isaiah 53 to reflect on the suffering of the Aboriginal nation, their sense of powerlessness, and the sympathy of God—who has miraculously shared in this. The mysterious passage of Isaiah 53 is theologically analysed by Katherine Sonderegger. She speaks of the dejection and suffering of the figure described—he is the “thrown away” one, “the offscouring of the busy world”[211], the one who others “scorn”—yet she acquaints it with the life of God: “We must see that Almighty God seeks to teach us about His Life through incompleteness, through failure and anonymity.”[212] It is a startling event. She affirms—

“Learning about God, about His Life, must be, in truth, a very odd and startling event.”[213]

He is the anonymous one: “The prophet lays before our eyes what we never see; the nations that carry their burdens, endure them, year upon year, without notice from the great, busy with the technology that they say has changed everything, but still the servant nations live the longue durée, the changeless sufferings of the poor.”[214] She describes such lives as the “furniture of our world” “…the still forms that stand at street corner, that fade into anonymity and colourless obscurity, on park benches and behind empty warehouses; the child unwanted, taunted, beaten; the passed over in every office and factory; the criminal, the immigrant, the bystander to our elegant life. The prophet shows us these things in all their searing concreteness.”[215]

Sonderegger speaks of the figure’s descent into thinghood: “The prophet makes plain to us the life, collective and singular, of that which has been allowed to fall—has been crushed—into airless concreteness, into thinghood.”[216] This figure is familiar with pain— “it is the astonishing impenetrability of pain that is its unmistakable hallmark.”[217] “Sufferers stand before the incommunicable; they know the concrete in its utter facticity, its unrepentant reality, its random and blinding force.”[218] But this is the Mission of the Son, “the meaning of this concrete life.”[219] Yet even here, he is without form or beauty— “even His Concreteness, His Thereness, cannot be grasped; He seems to slip out from our view, a mangled and disturbed image. He is Stranger among us.”[220]

This is the crisis that he undergoes—“the crushing silence of the concrete, his life in pain and grief, the overthrow of justice, his reduction to the deadness of a thing, the meaninglessness of the whole.”[221] There is a pattern in this, a direction: “And we see the direction here, from Heaven to earth, from Meaning to suffering death. It is the Intelligible in the concrete: the concrete, yes, but the Universal, the Excess and Beyond, penetrating and illuminating the concrete. That is the pattern here.”[222]

“Shadowed in the lonely death of Moses, his unknown grave, his prohibited entry into Canaan, his earthly arrest by the River Jordan, is this Divine Descent into the Word, the Eternal Son. There is something in the marred and mangled deaths of the martyred faithful, the confessors, the resisters, and the liberators, something in the whole terrible, forgotten realm of the tortured that tells us of this Awe-Filled Downward Life. Haunting the life of the earthly Jesus, His Descent through David’s royal line, His remorseless road of torment and death, is this Divine descent, this Perfect and Dreadful Rest that is Unlikeness and Silence. What are we to see here, peering into these dark shadows, about the Holy God, the Lord of this Suffering Servant?”[223]

Three places close to me—their history [and pieces inspired]

Window open towards Jerusalem

Jerusalem was significant in the Israelite mind-set—it was Israel’s capital, the temple was placed there, and prayer was both offered and answered from here. Indeed, it was a universal site of teaching concerning God—

Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Micah 4:2).

Daniel looked towards Jerusalem when he prayed—“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”[224] L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim (Next year in Jerusalem) is spoken at the end of Passover and Yom Kippur. It is a prayer “for an end to exile and return to the Land of Israel” and “a prayer for ultimate redemption, for peace and perfection for the entire world.”[225]

King Solomon, in his prayer formulation at the temple, noted that—

“…if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.”[226]

I look to the land of my birth, my childhood, my maturity and mourn and plead. It set up my tabernacle here. Like the Amoraim Jewish scholars,[227] I seek to “harmonize the universality of God’s presence with its localization in the tabernacle.”[228]

Seaforth. My home during my childhood and youth. There is an Aboriginal rock engraving site at Bantry Bay, not far from there. When driving to visit my parents, we always prayed near to where the site is situated. This has continued for almost forty years. It seemed right to pray there.

Emu Plains and Penrith.[229] We have lived there from 1988 till today.[230] The River’s early settlement was known as the ‘convict’s colony’. I discuss the use of the commons—as was seen in the early history of Emu Plains—as an alternate way of relating to world.

Warragamba. I spent my first 6 months there (born April 1960). My parents had been there for ten years during the 1950s. It was there that they met, were married, and the place where they met most of their friends. They were working on Warragamba Dam—my father was a pay clerk in the Water Board [he later became Assistant Secretary of the Water Board], my mother an infant teacher in the town.

I examine past wrong doings—the neglect of Aboriginal life and culture; a people excluded and dispossessed, made ‘strangers in their own land’.[231] “[A]nd if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive”[232]—this change of heart I express through music and theology. Daniel was a man of “extraordinary spirit” (Dan 6:3)—his intimacy with God was expressed through his prayer. Wink has commented that this “seemingly innocuous act [was] more … revolutionary than outright rebellion would have been.”[233] To look out on the forsaken, lost, anonymous, neglected, silent history of our nation—is a thing of value in God’s eyes.

Bantry Bay—Remembrance

Engravings site, Bantry Bay

After the arrival of the First Fleet on 26 January 1788, a number of expeditions were sent out to explore the rocky surroundings of Port Jackson. On the harbour’s high ridges they came across numerous “figures of animals, of shields and weapons, and even of men, that have been carved upon the rocks, roughly indeed, but sufficiently well to ascertain very fully what was the object intended.”[234] On April 15 1788, a party led by Governor Phillip, assisted by the Surgeon-General John White, Judge-Advocate David Collins and Lieutenants Ball and Johnston, left Manly and explored deep into Gayamaygal territory [i.e. Manly Dam and Bantry Bay]. At the top of a ridge they came across an engraving site. White noted that “without being able to trace, by a single vestige, that the natives had been in those parts. We saw, however, some proofs of their ingenuity, in various figures cut on the smooth surface of some very large stones.”[235] White observed that “on the stones, where the natives had been thus exercising their abilities in sculpture, were several weather-beaten shells.”[236] A long time passed before these engravings were recorded—105 years.[237]

In June 1802, a French scientific expedition visited the convict colony at Port Jackson. Two ships, the Geographe and Naturaliste, commanded by Nicolas Baudin, had set sail from Le Havre two years earlier. For the last twelve months, they had surveyed the west coast of New Holand and the south-eastern part of Van Diemen’s Land. [238] Two artists from the expedition, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit, made a large number of drawings during the visit to Port Jackson, including nine sketches that were titled, dessins executes par naturals—drawings executed by the natives. [239] They were published in France in 1824.

These drawings are the first depictions of Aboriginal rock engravings—although they make no claim of this in the publication. Lesueur and Petit also do not mention that there are hundreds of rock carvings to be found at Port Jackson.[240] The drawings are of four species of fish, a kangaroo and an eel—each not uncommon as engravings—and three variations of ‘the God of the Blue Mountains’.

The French visit coincided with the sixth attempt to cross the Blue Mountains. Peron, a member of the expedition, observed that the natives seem to have “a sort of religious fear. It is there, according to them, that a kind of evil spirit or deity dwells, of which we are providing (pl. 33) several grotesque images drawn by the natives themselves. From the summit of these impregnable mountains, this terrible god sends down upon them thunder…”[241] Soon afterwards he himself experienced a tremendous storm, “[a]n enormous bank of big, black clouds was pushed by this gale from the summit of the Blue Mountains down to the plain.”[242] If these sketches of the ‘God of the Blue Mountains’ were copied, the carvings would probably be very large.[243] These carvings, however, have not been found. Perhaps they were destroyed as Sydney Town grew.[244]

A comparison can be made between European culture and Aboriginal culture—the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived on the continent and its islands for more than 60 000 years. “They are recognised as having the oldest continuous culture on the planet. They speak of their ancestors as travellers of the continent during the Creation. The Creation forms the basis of Aboriginal law, which is passed down through song, dance, rock and sand painting, language and oral explanations of myth.”[245]

Air Des Naturels De La N[ouve]lle Hollande[246]

Written in September 2019. Orchestra (early 19th century, French). Noted down by members of Nicolas Baudin’s French expedition to NSW, Winter and Spring 1802. Bernier’s transcription of an Aboriginal melody. An 18-bar melody, proceeding from high G to low G. It moves in slowly descending plateaus from G to D, in steps. The melody hovers around D, repeats the stepwise movement, hovers again, then continues its descent, arriving at low G in the last bar. Speed: crochet = 60. The piece is in two parts. See map 1.

First section. Pairs of canons, a dotted semibreve apart—violins, oboes, clarinets. Distance between each entry, 3 bars and a dotted quaver. After the clarinets begin their descent the harp enters (1 bar, a minim, and a quaver), playing a repeated minim G (40 times). A sense of calm. G major tonal centre.

Second section—begins in part during the last bars of the first section—as the last harp notes are sounded:  flutes in pairs; French horn, violin II and viola (in triplets—a dotted semiquaver apart);[247] clarinet, trombone and cello (in triplets); oboe, bass trombone, double bass (in triplets); the next entry is louder: high trumpet, double bassoons, and a repeated forte low E in the violins (in the same canonic rhythm); then the entry of the timpani (echoed by the first trumpet)—a repeated minim low E (42 times), final note played by sustained low strings. Highly dramatic. E minor tonal centre.

Sound, in Ingold’s view, should be compared to weather. “We do not perceive it, we perceive in it.”[248] He says that we should “turn our attention skywards, to the realm of the birds, rather than towards the solid earth beneath your feet.”[249] Sound flows in a similar way to wind, in “irregular, winding paths”[250] To follow it, we must wander in these paths—listening is not therefore emplaced, rather, like a flying a kite—as the wind takes the kite far above us—we need to follow the sounds: “…the sweep of sound continually endeavours to tear listeners away, causing them to surrender to its movement. It requires effort to stay in place.”[251]

The is a certain swirling intensity in the music—at first peaceful, but as the second section begins, it is more like a waterfall descending towards its depths, or a thunderstorm. Each canon descends through the octave. The descending line of the melody, falling like a waterfall to the depths below, is symbolic of the downward movement of the suffering servant. This falling line, which pulls the listener with it, is typical of aboriginal songforms which hauntingly, seem to understand something of this type of grief.

“… this great descent that is his pathway. We see the great downward movement to rejection, to suffering and failure, as a pilgrimage to the Land of Unlikeness. … There is something Strange about Almighty God—that is, some Depth and Majesty that cannot be traced out.”[252]

Air Des Naturels De La N[ouve]lle Hollande Score

Forty-three years passed; Mr. George French Angas—an artist, writer and naturist—arrived at Sydney harbour.[253] He made the acquaintance of the magistrate, Mr. William Augustus Mile, and together they “made short boating excursions.”[254] Mr Miles saw a figure of a kangaroo engraved on a flat rock near Camp Cove. They searched more thoroughly and made further discoveries, encouraging Agnas to regard this ‘discovery of a new and remarkable feature connected with the history of the natives.’[255] “Angas was convinced ‘that up to the present time they appear to have remained unobserved’ by the majority of Sydney’s white citizens.”[256] They approached ‘about a dozen natives of the Sydney and Broken Bay tribes’ living nearby and ‘selected “Old Queen Gooseberry”…to be our guide.[257] She led them ‘to several spots near the North Head, where she affirmed that carvings existed in great numbers, as well as impressions of human hands on the sides of perpendicular rocks.’[258]

Angas and Miles likened these places to chapel and temples.[259] They compared those places “on ‘promontories, islands and peninsulas, high lands overlooking the sea, that were sacred in the far East and in Western Europe’—with the places where Aboriginal engravings are found, on headlands high above the harbour.”[260] Angas and Miles made ‘careful facsimile drawing on the spot’[261] of numerous engraving at Potts Point, Middle Head, Camp Cove and Camp Cove. “Taking into account the nine-drawing originating from the 1802 French expedition were made by Aborigines, it is clear that Angas and Miles, inspired by what they had found carved at Point Piper and elsewhere around Pork Jackson were, 57 years after the First Fleet anchored in Warrane or Sydney Cove, the first Europeans to make sketches of any of the many hundreds of Eora rock engravings.”[262]

Almost 50 years later, in the early 1890s, the surveyor, Mr W. D. Campbell observed that these same engravings were ‘clearly visible.’[263] Mr. Campbell spent 10 years of his private time surveying the engraving sites.[264] It takes two days to plot the Gayamaygal’s ‘very numerous variety of figures’[265]—including ‘four whales…three shields, a waddy, several sharks, a hammer-headed shark, a decorated figure of a deity holding a circle in its right hand, six eels and four or five fish, a fishing line and a loop, a kangaroo, a wallaby, two circles, and three bifurcated figures in and near the second largest whale.’[266] He spent the next seven years surveying dozens of sites, from Botany Bay to Middle Harbour. In his introduction to Aboriginal Carvings of Port Jackson and Broken Bay[267] he expresses his concern— ‘the meaning of much of what is thus drawn and cut must inevitably be lost in oblivion with the rapid disappearance of the native races, no effort having been made, in the early days of the settlement, to put on record the folk-lore of the blacks.’[268]

The Bantry Bay carvings were surveyed in 1893.[269] The palaeontologist, Mr. Robert Etheridge Junr., had partially recorded this site in the early 1890s.[270]

“Far more than a surveyor, geologist, and engineer, William David Campbell made an exceptionally significant contribution in documenting the material culture of the First Australian, and without his single-minded obsession only a tiny fraction of Sydney’s Aboriginal rock engravings would be known today.”[271]

Engraving site, Bantry Bay

A Lover of Mild Behavior (2)[272]

A 32-bar folk melody from Ireland, recorded in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland. The piece is scored for clarinet, trombone, bass trombone, and strings. The melody is in four sections—the third is a repeat of the second, and the fourth a repeat of the first. The canonic entries are 7 crotchet beats apart—beginning when both share a C sharp. Five entries in the first section.

The second section also has five entries, but at the point of a possible sixth entry, a half speed version of the melody begins (played by the clarinet)—beginning another canon (while the previous canon proceeds and concludes). The canonic entries of this slower canon are 14 crotchet beats apart (double the first). Two entries (clarinet and violin 1) are made in this section.

The slower canon enters its third phrase (clarinet) as the initial canon comes to an end. Further entries follow—of the third and fourth phrases rather than the whole theme—clarinet, violin 1, violin 2, viola, ‘cello, and bass trombone. i.e. 6 voices. The last entry, bass trombone, is accompanied by canon a crotchet beat later, played by pizzicato double bass.

The piece was written on my father’s birthday—28 January 2021—the first after his death. It remembers him, ‘a lover of mild behaviour’.

Often beautiful harmony results. Each theme has its own momentum—it climbs and falls, then climbs higher. Each entry carries these shapes. The horizontal movement thus gives a story—but the vertical entries create their own story, of richness and depth. [273] I structure the harmony by chance—with a degree of control in the sense of the canonic position (choosing what position the canon shall proceed)—the resulting harmony can be truly ‘beautiful’. To me it is like providence—each thing proceeds in its own manner, but, at times, joins in a greater harmony. “Divine Providence is immanent in human freedom and consists of its progressive realization.”[274] The themes are like a human’s freedom—like human freedom, they often do not coincide, there is disharmony, striving, unforeseen difficulties—yet a sense of order is maintained, and often a richness and depth of harmony is achieved. William Hasker has theorized: God is not yet totally in control, rather he progressively controls. “God, who potentially has absolute, meticulous control exactly as posited by theological determinism, has willingly chosen to become self-limiting by creating free persons on whom he bestows limited but nevertheless quite significant powers to affect both their lives and the world around them.”[275]

David knows that, “Providence is not a matter of mechanical predestination … Blessing may come out of curse.”[276]

The composition’s overall shape: A rise and a fall, moving in waves. Silence. Another rise and fall—with another slower melody (in the treble and louder) beginning its own rise and fall. Sweet. Another generation carrying on from the previous one. The earlier voices occurring again—but modified by this change; then pizzicato—fullness underlying. “As for man, his days are like the grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and the place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to the children’s children” (Psalm 103:14–17).

This has relevance to the engraving site near where my parents built their house. Aboriginal philosophy sees mistakes, wrong entries etc. as preordained—Dreaming controlled—and good.[277] There is an ‘openness’ and ‘flexibility’ within the Dreaming.[278] “In discussing the notion of ‘cyclical perpetuity’ in an Aboriginal philosophy of time, Hale demonstrates how Warlpiri lexicon reflects a belief that “…a given entity presented to the senses at a given time is simply the current manifestation of something which has existed always and will always exist”[279] Hale’s examination of Warlpiri verbs indicated that words like ‘create’ do not exist with their closest glosses being ‘transform’, ‘turn into’ and ‘fix’.[280]  In this way Warlpiri people are never ‘creating’ anything ‘new’ but instead changing the form of somethingwhich previously existed in another form.”[281]

“… an important principle in central Australian philosophy—namely, the principle of ‘the persistence of entities through transformation’”[282]  

A canon always exists. Perpetual canons often were the norm. A melody reoccurs. Yet it has a conclusion. The melody ends—and the piece turns towards its conclusion. In the same way, the harmony—despite its sometime ‘wrong notes’—moves through a harmonic progression (I IV I Vb VIc IIIb Ic IVb IV7 V)[283]—often reoccurring—towards its end. Like Bachian counterpoint, the local dissonant notes are subsumed into the harmonic sense.[284] The upward movement of the scale within the melody also contributes to this.

Dussart discusses songs that are dreamt[285] by Warlpiri people, noting that:

“The nature of a dream’s new or reconfigured condition is called into question because of the perceptual distinctions surrounding the innovation. The dreamers themselves, when pushed for a specific term, may call what they dream “new”. But further amplification reveals that they consider the material to be retrieved or re-remembered—reclaimed from the Dreaming after an unspecified time of neglect or amnesia.”[286]

In dreams we can re-remember, we can retrieve—even after “an unspecified time of neglect or amnesia.” The loss of memory that has marked the history of this engraving site during the last 200 years can be, according to aboriginal thought, retrieved.

We have discussed putting my father’s ashes near the engraving site at Bantry Bay.

A half century ago my father

Bought land overlooking a

Curved harbour the

Deeds are


Emu Plains—Strangers in their own land

A great experiment was undertaken by the Colonial Administration—working in conjugation with British Government. Governor Philip instructed that when convicts had served their sentence, they were to be given land. They were to become a farming community, a convict’s colony. This project was successful;[288] by the 1820s convicts, ex-convicts and their children owned two-thirds of cultivated land, half the cattle and third of the sheep: “This colony was to be a second chance for banished men and women. Small farming was to be their salvation.”[289]

For over one hundred and fifty years[290] “small-scale agriculture was the panacea, the true path towards civilising land and people.”[291] There was a compelling context—it undermined the many efforts made to enclose common land by the enactments of English parliament. The commoners—small landholders, rural artisans, cottagers, labourers—had for centuries been guaranteed access to open fields, moors, forests and wastes. They could cultivate, hunt, forage for wild food, collect timber and glean grain after the harvest.[292] “Critics recognized that enclosure as the enlargement of the wealthy at the cost of the poor, who were not only robbed of their traditional lands, but also reduced from hardy independent commoners to wretched, dependant, wage slaves.”[293] They saw it as the destruction of a “quintessential English way of life.”[294] Those in favour, however, saw it as “taming the rural poor,” whose farming was labelled as “primitive.”[295]

The new colony remarkably revived what was being destroyed in England. However, “…there is nothing accidental or thoughtless about it. Those older practices were deliberately used to create a new colonial society.”[296] The grants were limited, encouraging occupation and cultivation. Lands were divided fairly: “Grants on rivers were to be long and narrow, with the short ends on the rivers and creeks, so that they may share access.”[297] The early Governors provided for commons—Governor Philip provided Sydney Common (which became the Domain), Governor King proclaimed six great commons for small settlers (35,205 acres). “The convicts brought these ancient ideals with them, and saw the whole Australian landscape as a common.”[298] Most convicts were from rural backgrounds (“by 1811 around 65 per cent of those transported … had been tried in rural counties of England and Ireland”[299]), and brought with them older ideals of land, nature and rights. Convicts in New South Wales saw the land grants “as a return to an older, proper order of living.”[300]

Historian Alan Atkinson believes that for the convicts and ex-convicts, the Hawkesbury River was “a kind of miraculous materialization of the mythical land of Cockaigne, the centuries-old dream country of the poor and hungry of Europe and the New World.”[301] This land seemed to be “the commons ideal—unenclosed forests and wetlands, that were teeming with wildlife and open to all for hunting, fishing and foraging.”[302] The fords of Emu Plains and Yarramundi were a landmark destination for the convict settlers. The richness of the soil[303]  met with the hopes of colonial project: “It lay at the heart of both the British government’s vision of a harsh, simple, agrarian society and the convict’s dreams of a life of ease and plenty.”[304]

Most early settlers were not alienated by Australian environment, rather they found It beautiful and marvelled in its abundance—yielding two crops each year. “Artists painted landscapes, plants, birds and animals, and talented young Currency lads wrote passionate poetry inspired as much by their river birthplaces, its forests, farmlands and birds, as the verses of Milton and Gray.”[305] For many of the convicts from rural backgrounds, the forests were the commons: “They had a right to graze their animals, clear a space for a cottage, collect materials to build it, and forage and hunt for food in their forests.”[306] They would have been struck by the limitlessness of the forest, which was so unlike England, where everything was known and measured.[307]

The settler’s houses used the same material as the aboriginal people; their portable ‘tent huts’ that almost replicating Aboriginal gunyahs.[308] “These were not neat and pretty farms … there were no fences, apart from a rough sheep pen or pigsty …The farms were not worked with ploughs but by hand, with simple hoes.”[309] Because there were no fences, the different breeds mated freely, and gave birth all year round. These settlers were poor—“food, drink, sociability and the rough pleasures of popular culture were higher priorities than large houses or fancy clothing.”[310] Like the English commoners who ‘had little but …also wanted less …they lived well enough for themselves, but invisibly and poorly in the eyes of outsiders.”[311] Their farms were not aspect of ‘civilisation’ against a ‘wilderness’—rather, land for grazing and bush were both valued and needed—“[p]eople and animals moved between them, more like a tidal ebb and flow than the triumphant march of civilization over wilderness.”[312]

In the early 1820s, however, a significant change in policy was formulated. The British Government appointed Commissioner John Thomas Bigge to investigate the granting of land and assess the harshness of convict policy. He decided that the colony was best suited to large-scale pastoralism, supported by capital from overseas; he held moreover that the convict system should be made more severe. [The nineteenth century Australian novelist, Marcus Clarke, wrote about Australia’s savage convict history, comparing it to Christ: “The crown of divinity is a crown of thorns.”[313] He envisions Christ as the suffering servant “—someone who could find acceptance among the Australian convicts because he too: ‘…was despised and rejected by men/a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.’”[314]] In 1825 the land grants for ex-convicts were abolished. Large estates were established with cheap labour from the increasing numbers of convicts supplied as ‘assistants’—sometimes hundreds of them. Ostentatious houses were built; vineyards, dairies, horse studs, orchards and outbuildings were added; political inequalities loomed large.[315] “The old, porous boundaries were formalised by mile upon mile of sturdy, stock-proof, post-and-rail fencing … landowners closed old, well-worn pathways and roads, creating barriers where there had been none, and shutting people and animals out, or in.”[316]

A convict-built wall, near our house, Emu Plains

The locals resisted these changes. They send formal letters of complaint, organised petitions, and at times, made direct forceful action. They replicated the resistance to the enclosures in England, defending their right to land in common—“in the ‘convicts’ colony’ of New South Wales, emancipist farmers had probably assumed that their common lands would be safe from enclosure.”[317] The historian, E. P. Thompson, wrote than communal forms of property express “an alternative notion of possession … Enclosure, in taking the commons away from the poor, made them strangers in their own land.”[318] This has however a more profound significance:

… it was not the Hawkesbury-Nepean’s white settlers who became ‘strangers in their own land’. On the contrary, their attachment to the river became ever more passionate, and emerging local identities and a sense of belonging were unmistakable in the myriad river communities. The people excluded and dispossessed, and is those senses made ‘strangers in their own land’, were Dyarubbin’s Aboriginal clans and bands.“[319]


Imperial powers have sought to occupy this inhabited world, casting their own “network of connections across what appears, in their eyes, to be not a tissue of trails but a blank surface. These connections are lines of occupation.”[320] The landscape geographer, Kenneth Olwig, has suggested these terms—comparing marching to walking, he observes “marching presupposes an ‘open’, placeless space—a utopia;”[321] walking however is topian, “…like the spiral of a harmonic progression, [it] allows us to return to, and regenerate, the place that gives us sustenance.”[322] He looks at the development of cartography which coincided with the development of the  centralised states—“[t]he absolute, isotropic, uniform geometric space of the map provided a means of transforming the state into a territorial property that lent itself to a uniform and absolute governance based upon scientifically based natural law.”[323] Landscape no longer referring to place—it was rather defined “in terms of the spatial boundary enclosing material things, often with hedges or walls.”[324] A state can be scaled down into smaller spaces—“provinces, municipalities, private estates and so forth, which, though qualitatively different, all belong to the uniform absolute space of the state.”[325] The lands can be enclosed and alienated—individualised private property becomes the norm. Olwig argues for something better—“a topianism that recognizes that human beings, as creatures of history, consciously and unconsciously create places.”[326] Ingold explains it is like this:

“[There is] a particular logic that has a central place in the structure of modern thought. I call this the logic of inversion. What is does, in a nutshell, is to turn the pathways along which life is lived into boundaries within which it is enclosed. Life, according to this logic, is reduced to an internal property of things that occupy the world but do not, strictly speaking, inhabit it. A world that is occupied but not inhabited, that is filled with existing things rather than woven from the strands of their coming-into-being, is a world of space.”[327]

This is critical for my composing process. Tunes are not fenced. I let each melody remain as it is. I don’t modify, don’t expand, I don’t use fragments of the tune as motifs for development, I refrain from uses phrases as a source of invention[328]—the waterways remain, the paths stay open—“the commons ideal—unenclosed forests and wetlands, that were teeming with wildlife and open to all for hunting, fishing and foraging.”[329] I fish, I forage the “teeming wildlife.” God given—I use the abundance. I replicate the early settlers gaze: “No wonder people gazed in amazement at the rolling vistas of the Cumberland Plain and the immense flocks of wild ducks on the rivers and lagoons, or stood in awe before the army of giant trees from which they were supposed to carve out fields of grain.”[330] I aim to treat these traditional melodies as things that matter rather than things as matter.[331]

Warragamba—Beauty untouched

The first evidence of the Burragorang Valley (which was to become the Warragamba Dam catchment) was chosen for a reservoir for Sydney was from the early 1870s. In 1910, Ernest de Burgh, the Chief Engineer for the Water Supply and Sewage, prepared a proposal for a dam.[332] Construction of the dam began in 1948; it was completed in 1960. Lake Burragorang was formed—one of the largest reservoirs in the world. The choice of this place inhibited close settlement of the valley—it remained open rural space, much of Gundungarra country thus remains in its original condition.

The early settlers, perhaps due to their isolation, developed a close association with the Aboriginal people. A descendent observed: “They had to get along side by side to keep living, which seemed to do very well.”[333] Many of the settlers were Irish Catholic convicts. Jim Smith observes that these ex-convicts, “coming from an ‘underclass’ in British society, were more inclined to sympathise with the native Aboriginal ‘underclass’.”[334] They were known as ‘Barragorangers’ whenever they visited a regional township above the cliffs. Although there were few registered marriages between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, there was a large increase in children. “The settlers were only too happy for Aboriginal children to attend the local schools with their own, as these small schools were in constant danger of closing for lack of sufficient pupil numbers.[335] Traditional practices continued: using smoke signals to communicate, traditional pathways, hunting, fishing, harvesting of bush foods. Sacred sites were still visited. [336] Discrimination was noticeably less in the Valley. The Aboriginal people interacted with the settlers. They could live “in both worlds, aware of the traditional significance of Gundungarra places, but adapting to, and participating in a range of new associations and relationships with settler society on Gundungurra land.”[337]

In the 1870s the Gundungarra people had said: “If we left our Valley our hearts would break.”[338] Sadly, this is what happened. Smith observes that “[o]ne of the greatest acts of dispossession of Aboriginal country in Australian history was the drowning of 75 square kilometres of Gundungarra country in the late 1950s to create Lake Burragorang. In addition to this submerged area, which will never be seen again, access to the ‘forbidden zone’, the three-kilometre wide ‘Schedule 1’ area round the shores of Lake Burragorang, is severely restricted. There are also controls on access to the much larger ‘Schedule 2’ area around the lake and ‘wilderness’ areas.[339] It was lost forever.

Ivy Brookman is the last living person of Gundungurra descent who lived on an Aboriginal reserve in the Burragorang Valley. She described her feelings:

“I do not know why they had to flood our beautiful Valley. We loved the Burragorang Valley, and now it’s gone. The best and happiest years of my life were in that beautiful valley. It’s a shame it was flooded, but then again maybe it was for the best. It will always remain with its beauty untouched by houses every 50m apart. That’s how it would have been if the whites got hold of the Burragorang Valley. No whites ever touched the soil on Gungarlook. The peaks of Burragorang Valley all tell the story of the beauty of this wonder valley. There is lots of virgin soil that will never be touched by mankind. I have seen it for its beauty when I lived there as a child.”[340]

Warragamba Dam under construction, mid 1950s

In David’s Lament for Jonathan and Saul, Nature acts as a grief-stricken neighbour—the hills of Gilboa share in the loss. Writing about the Hebrew prophets, Mari Joerstad observes, “Nonanimal nature is busy in the Prophets! Stars go to battle, hills perform mourning rituals, fields grieve over droughts and locust attacks, mountains convulse in YHWH’s presence, ravines receive oracles. The emotional life of other-then-human persons is equally diverse; they feel fear, dread, grief, joy, and exultation.”[341] Nature in the Bible is mostly observed in places humans interrelate to. The prophets ask, How well do you live with human and other-than-human persons—be they “humans, animals, plants, mountains, or skies”?[342] The prophets desire a “mutual flowering, communities of soil, plants and animals, and humans in supportive and beneficial relationships.”[343] The biblical writers are concerned about how Israel should be “a source of joy to its fields, and not a source of mourning.”[344] Israel and Judah cannot live like imperial overlords, rather, “[t]hey must be good neighbours to the trees and fields, rivers and ravines, mountains and valleys.”[345]

For the West, humanity and nature have “stable frontiers.”[346] Other ontologies operate differently.[347] For Israel, all relationships are based on their relationship with YHWH. “Nature does not stand outside Israel and YHWH’s relationship as an external and arbitrary measure of adherence to YHWH’s statutes. There is no nature distinct and apart from humans. Humans participate in a great mesh of creatures, ‘a domain of entanglements’,[348] and the Hebrew Bible sets forth human responsibilities within this meshwork.”[349]

Nature, beauty, history

A short poem by Friedrich Hölderlin,[350] ‘Hahrdt Nook’. I listen to what it tells us about nature, beauty and history. This poem gives us hints about how to think about Warragamba, where history, nature and beauty are linked.

Hahrdt Nook

The wind sinks down

And, like buds, the leaves

Hang inwards, under them

A ground blooms up

With things to say.

For there Ulrich

Walked. Often over the footprint

A large destiny broods

Ready at the remaining place.[351]

A cave in the woodland is the setting of this poem. It is close to where Hölderlin grew up. Ulrich Duke of Wurttemberg sheltered there in 1519: “The place speaks of this event. History has here turned into nature.”[352] Nature and history are thus intertwined. “The poem objects to the image of nature as a speechless minor, as something opposite of humankind qua sole creator of history; human being is self-determining and autonomous while nature is dependent, static and heteronomous.”[353] The philosopher and sociologist, Adorno made these comments on the poem, linking beauty, nature and history:

“Two slabs of rock form the shelter in which the duke hid. The event that, according to the legend, took place there is supposed to speak with the voice of nature, which is therefore called …“far from mute.” Surviving, nature becomes an allegory for the destiny that once manifested itself on that spot.[354]

“In this poem, a stand of trees becomes perceived as beautiful, as more beautiful than the others, because it bears, however vaguely, the mark of a past event.”[355]

A necessary feature of higher enlightenment is, according to Hölderlin, the remembrance that human creations, such as art and society, are not completely autonomous but ultimately dependent on nature.[356] “…an authentic poem is not a closed autonomous work of art but rather an open unity that remembers its dependence on nature and thus can be said to reflect on its aesthetic heteronomy.”[357] In his preface to Hyperion, 1795, he states “[t]he blessed unity, Being, in the unique sense of the word, is lost to us… We have been dislocated from nature.” “[W]e would have no presentiment of this ultimate peace, of this Being…if [it] was not present (to us). It is present—as beauty.”[358]

In “Fragment of Philosophical Letters,” he held that we need to be able to “represent’’ the connection between us and the world.[359] Neither theoretical knowledge nor our sense perception is able to achieve this; Hölderlin empathises instead remembrance and gratefulness, as a kind of prerequisite.[360] In traditional philosophy, we often tend to privilege what is stable and unchanging rather than the fleeting and transient. “Traditional conceptions of beauty conceive of it as on a par with this stability.”[361] In Hyperion the main character agrees with this—but when Diotima, his teacher and beloved, dies, Hyperion understands that “all the transformations of pure Nature are part of her beauty too.”[362] Unlike Plato, who thought that our experience of fleeting beauty leads to the idea of beauty, Hyperion moves from conceiving beauty as eternal to the understanding that transience and death are part of the beauty of life.[363] For Hölderlin, the opposite is needed “for life to become manifest, to appear as life.”[364]

In his poetry, Hölderlin gives a voice to non-human nature. He regards art and nature as sharing a kinship. We cannot return to nature, but we can remember it, and give thanks. “[A]rt is this remembrance of nature.”[365] In ‘Hahrdt Nook’, Hölderlin gives the blooming ground under the trees an expressive part to play in the poem. “Through this kind of poetic remembrance, the ground shines forth (‘blooms up’) and becomes eloquent; we are presented with living, beautiful, transient nature, staking its claim on us.”[366] Works of art create unity while allowing their particulars to “shine forth in their particularity.”[367] Human creations are never completely autonomous; ultimately, they depend upon nature. [368] Poetry has the ability to both “remember and express”[369] humanity’s dependence on nature. In a letter to his brother, he writes that man should:

“… in all his arts and activity preserve … a modesty and piety towards its [that is, nature’s] spirit—the same spirit he carries within him and has all about him and which gives him material and energy. For human art and activity, however much it has already achieved and can achieve, cannot produce life, cannot itself create the raw material it transforms and works on; it can develop creative energy, but the energy itself is eternal and not the work of human hands.”[370]

Nature bears the influence of history here—at Warragamba. For Hölderlin, when Diotima dies, Hyperion states that “all the transformations of pure Nature are part of her beauty too.”[371] “Beauty becomes tragic beauty.”[372] “…the Beautiful shines only in the glory of its transience.”[373] “[N]atural beauty is suspended history—artworks that resonate with this moment of suspension are those that are justly said to have a feeling for nature.”[374]

A beautiful place— “My grandmother said [that]…the only thing growing on the river flats were large trees and grass everywhere growing right to the river banks”[375]—now covered with water.

Here a “large destiny broods.”[376]

The Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon (2)[377]

Written in 2019. Piccolo, flute, oboe d’amore, two French horns, harp, two solo violins and strings. Based on the pibroch: “This long and grand piece was composed by his brother, in the Isle of Skye, when he heard that Donald was killed, at the battle of Culloden in 1746. This is the most plaintive Piobaireachd perhaps, now on record.”[378] The form is that of an Urlar (Ground), and a number of variations, that progressively become more difficult.

I originally wrote this piece in memory of my friend Hugh de Ferranti’s father, Barry. “The Cumhadh, or Lament, otherwise called the Coronach, was an elegy composed on the death or misfortunes of any celebrated individual. It partook, in some degree, of the song of praise, for it extolled the virtues of the individual.”[379] It has a wider reference however—for it speaks about loss of within the community of the Burragorang Valley:

“It was as though the names of all the folks I had known in my life, had been written on a piece of paper, then shredded and tossed in the air, to be blown away by the four winds to fall where they may, leaving a “Valley without a Soul.””[380]

And of nature itself, as Camilla Flodin has written concerning Hölderlin’s poetry:

“Through a kind of poetic remembrance, the ground shines forth (‘blooms up’) and becomes eloquent; we are presented with living, beautiful, transient nature, staking its claim on us.”[381]

It begins with a busy background; the melody feels like its flying. A bright sunny day, ice shining in the sun. Later, a windy feel on a bright cold day—or of travelling fast through water. Beauty shines, despite its transience. See map 2 which charts the piece.

Layout: The Doubling of the Ground is stated first (the previous work was based on the Ground),[382] 1st variation (bar 6), doubling 2nd variation (bar 39), 2nd variation (bar 61), 3rd variation (bar 114), doubling 3rd variation (bar 134), 4th variation (bar 152), doubling 4th variation (bar 170), Ground return (bar 188).

6/8 time (bar 1). Doubling of Ground—5 parts (solo violin 1, oboe d’amore, solo violin 2, violin 1, violin 2), a quaver apart. 6 bars in—1st Variation (in 2/4 time)—3 parts: horn (12 and a half bars apart)—viola (starting at the 9th bar of Variation 1), cello (2 bar apart canon with viola).

2/4 time (bar 39). Doubling 2nd variation—3 parts (harp, pizzicato solo violin 1, violin 2), two bars apart. In the second part of the variation, another canon comes in two bars after the last entry of precious canon: 2nd variation—2 parts (flute, piccolo), two bars apart.  At completion of Doubling 2nd variation, 2nd variation begins for strings— (violin I, violin 2, and pizzicato violas), two bars apart.

6/8 time (bar 114). 3rd variation—2 parts (horn, horn), two bars apart. Second half of 3rd variation rescored— (oboe d’amore, violin I pizzicato), two bars apart. Six bar in—3rd variation (with ornamentation)—3 parts (solo violin 2, violin I, violin 2), two bars apart. Eight bar within this section—3rd variation, second part—2 parts (horn, horn), two bars apart. At completion of this variation, 4th variation begins (with ornamentation)—3 parts (harp, flute, piccolo), two bars apart.

At completion of 4th variation (ornamented), Doubling 4th variation begins (bar 170)—7 parts (double bass, cello, viola, violin 2, violin I, solo violin 2, solo violin I), four quaver beats apart. When 4th variation (piccolo, flute, harp) is complete, the Ground reappears (bar 188)—5 parts (horn, horn, oboe d’amore, harp x 2), three quavers apart—beauty seen.[383]

The return of the Ground

Chapter 3

He once said to me that what was truly and intensely local had the greatest capacity to speak universally.“[384]


In this chapter I examine three pieces, one by Peter Sculthorpe, Mangrove, and two by me, The Battle of Sheriffmuir and The Sweet Sorrow. Each of these has the qualities of a lament. Each piece celebrates a return, homecoming—a humility in the “Land of the Dawning,” before the greatness of God. [385] In Mangrove, Sculthorpe uses the Japanese Isé melody with great nobility and grandeur. The Battle of Sheriffmuir is similar to David’s lament, “How the mighty have fallen” (2 Sam 1:19, 25, 27), commemorating a major battle fought in Scotland. The Sweet Sorrow (originally titled At the Going Down of the Sun) is about the loss felt on Anzac Day.[386] In these explorations, I attempt to discover something of the nature of the Australian landscape and its religious connotations.

“Australians have wondered why sunset at Uluru has a touch of melancholy normally experienced in a religious service when people face their own insignificance before God.”[387]

Uluru—the Centre

In the opening of her novel, For Love Alone, Christina Stead speaks of about Australia’s position within the water hemisphere in a chapter entitled, Sea People. It speaks of Australia’s place in the world:

This island continent lies in the water hemisphere. On the eastern coast, the neighbouring nation is Chile, though it is far, far east, Valparaiso being more than six thousand miles away in a straight line; her northern neighbours are those of the Timor Sea, the Yellow Sea; to the south is that cold, stormy sea full of earth-wide rollers which stretches from there without land, south to the Pole.

“The other world—the old world, the land hemisphere—is far above her as it is shown on maps drawn upside-down by old world cartographers. From that world and particularly from a scarcely noticeable island up towards the North Pole the people came, all by steam; or their parents, all by sail. And there they round the many thousand miles of seaboard, hugging the water and the coastal rim. Inside, over the Blue Mountains, are plains heavy with wheat, then the endless dust, and after outcrops of silver, opal, and gold, Sahara, the slat-encrusted bed of a prehistoric sea, and leafless mountain ranges. There is nothing in the interior; so people look toward the water, and above to the fixed stars and constellations which first guided men here.”[388]

Is this correct? According to a satellite image of Australia the populous edges shimmer—“The centre dominates. Reaching out. Touching everything. An ocean unto itself.”[389] McKenna declares it is a “country ‘beyond the edge’—unfathomable, humbling and eternal—a country for disappearing into.”[390] Sidney Nolan saw it as the ‘earth with a layer peeled off.’ He spoke of its ‘mathematical’ and ‘almost theological’ beauty of the sand dunes, noting the ancient residue of the sea presence there gave rise “to oceanic metaphors of absence and longing.”[391] White explorers in the nineteenth century sought to find the centre, but in this search found it was an “existential journey into ‘the centre of silence and solitude’”[392] John McDouall Stuart believed the centre was north of, what is now, Alice Springs—he laid a large cone of stones there in April 1860. “The closer he came to the centre, the more it dissolved. Cavernous silence. Immeasurable landscape. Draining heat. A country that would take his life.”[393] The aboriginal people, however, saw an abundance and beauty here, “a larder teeming with sources of animal protein and fat and a wide variety of plants that provided nutrition, medicine, tools and shelter;”[394]—a land layered with story.”[395] Harney[396] knew important things that few other Europeans had apprehended. The ‘outback’, he thought, had become the ‘inside’ of the nation. And it was ‘the country’ itself that was the ‘living thing … the human being was just part of the land.’[397]

McKenna, in writing a history of ‘the centre’, travelling through the Simpson Desert, made this observation:

“The country defied all attempts to describe it. It seemed impossible to come here and to be confronted by the ultimate questions of human existence. The centre was not a place so much as a presence, one that everything was contained and everything dissolved—one that reminds us that we are not the centre of things. A centre that exposes our hubris and places our existence against the vast backdrop of geological time.”[398]

The country radiated and demanded silence.[399]


“Growing up in Tasmania, he felt this sense of loss was attached to the island itself through its displaced indigenous peoples and his family’s own convict heritage.”[401]

In his elegiac work [402] Mangrove, composed in 1979, Sculthorpe crystallises his feelings about mangroves. It is not descriptive, rather it explores the subtle and deep impressions that he has experienced in the presence of mangroves, either physical, artistic or beyond the physical. He thinks of “Sidney Nolan’s rain-forest paintings in which Eliza Fraser and the convict Bracefell become, through love, birds and butterflies and aboriginal graffiti,” “of a New Guinea tribe that believes man and woman to be descended from mangroves,” “even recollections of a beach, mangrove free, at Isé, in Japan.”[403] He believes that for him, the word mangrove means ‘man-women’.

It is written in a sectional form, and it makes use of slow moving melodies, simple and non-dramatic harmony, and a block form, similar to the structure of the landscape. After a ‘spirited section for brass and percussion’ a section concerning ‘love and loving’ occurs (cue 4)[404]—a string melody in wide sweeps. This leads into a long section with a slow moving, brooding melody, played by the cellos and double bass (cues 6-11 and 13-16). It is based on a Japanese melody, from a genre of court music. Isé-no-Umi is the title of melody, it is from the saibara tradition (from Gagaku). Sculthorpe uses this melody without change in pitch or in rhythmic structure.[405] Sculthorpe notes that the melody becomes a little out of step with itself[406]—some instruments play the notes a little behind and others a little ahead of the beat. This is in the style of Japanese ‘heterophony’, although he has transformed in timbre—“…it imparts to the piece a strongly elegiac quality.”[407] Hannan describes it as an “imitation of a complex natural echo.”[408] Sculthorpe doesn’t name this Japanese influence, suggesting that he may be concerned “to assimilate the theme to the imagery of the work, avoiding the suggestions of a Japanese form as an overt reference.”[409] Entries of the double-bass and tam-tam, and also the vibraphone, are made in multi-bar grouping, replicating the sound of the Shakuyoshi[410]—a feature of the saibara tradition.[411]

Isé melody

The intervening section (between the two sections of the Isé melody) is specifically descriptive, the strings play bird-sounds (cue 12) by using rapid glissandi in their high register, “suggesting a flock of tropical birds.”[412] Australia has few sounds that it can call its own—the cries of birds are one of them.[413]

The intervallic structure of the Isé melody seems to recollect liturgical chant—it aims at an E or B, most leaps are no larger than a fourth,[414] each ascent has a compensating fall. These are all conventions according to cantus firmus rules. The use of a mode instead of a tonal centre can impede the forwards direction, although the centring on B and E can give a rhetorical status to these notes—and climaxes occur as the melody expands, in particular the high E before the B before the bird section begins.

At the return of the ‘love and loving’ section—after a dramatic restatement of the ‘spirited section’, now combined with the birds—the score direction is “Largamente, con desidero d’amore” (with longing for love) (cue 21). It is a section of intense emotion, forte-fortissimo strings, over brass—a prolonged version of the original theme, then an octave lower subito (after cue 22). In the Composer’s Note, Sculthorpe had given emphasis to the association mangroves had, both mythologically and personally, with love.[415]

The final section in Mangrove is a restatement of the Isé melody,[416] but this time for brass (cue 23). “The piece ends, like Requiem, on a bare fifth, but here one of heroic stoicism; indeed the last few bars have a grandeur and nobility which is exceedingly rare in the music of our time.”[417] Naomi Cumming speaks of the ‘voice’ that is used in Mangrove—The opening trumpet sounds vocalising a thousand invisible beings. The extreme high register of the strings in the birds section suggesting movement en masse before the cellos more human vocal range— “On its cessation the Isé theme is to continue as if nothing happened. The ‘birds’ have been an ‘event’ of nature, unpredictable and uncontrolled.”[418] The cellos, and later, the trombones and horns, appearing as a mythic voice, “a musical personification of something that speaks out of the natural environment, without making its identity clear.”[419] It is because of the passionate awakening (cue 21) that an entry is made into the ‘mythic’ dimensions of this final section[420]—“‘Loving’ appears as an event that is quickly subdued, with diminution and rallentando, dying away.”[421]

Gabriel Josipovici collaborated with Sculthorpe in the early 1970s; he made this comment in a note to Sculthorpe: “to find [the] true soul of Australia we must stand back and outside Western man—outside man himself.”[422]

The Battle of Sheriffmuir[423]

“The centre dominates. Reaching out. Touching everything. An ocean unto itself.”[424] McKenna declares it is a “country ‘beyond the edge’—unfathomable, humbling and eternal—a country for disappearing into.[425]

In my work, The Battle of Sheriffmuir, composed in 2019, a calmness reigns. It is buoyant and expansive, like being carried upwards by a wave. Sydney Nolan spoke of the ‘mathematical’ and ‘almost theological’ beauty of the sand dunes[426], noting the ancient residue of the sea presence there gave rise “to oceanic metaphors of absence and longing.”[427] One feels the residue of the sea presence here, the hovering melodies, the flowing swell, the lift—the way each section goes to the next—a horizontal harmony.

It is based on the pibroch, The Battle of Sheriffmuir, notated by Angus MacKay.[428] The pibroch or ceol mor, “great music” (piobaireachd in Gaelic spelling) is a “unique species of 17th– and early 18th-century ceremonial music that was composed for the Scottish Highland bagpipes.”[429] It consists of an Urlar (Ground), and a number of variations, that progressively become more difficult. In this pibroch the Urlar is 16 bars in length; it is the same for each variation. I use of counterpoint of canons—initially a semi-quaver apart in eight voices. Another series of canons come in over the first series—this time in six voices—occurring four bars into the work. The tempo is slow (crotchet = 30). Harmonically, the music gently moves from A to G, a rocking motion, as if at sea.

A third voice enters in the 9th bar—the celeste, playing the thumb variation at half the speed. This is the first of three voices (in a 9 and two thirds of a bar canon)—the next is Violin 1—scored an octave higher (bar 18)—and the next is the trumpet (bar 28). Each of these voices goes for 32 bars. These extended melodies last for half of the composition! It is similar to voice of the leader or ‘precentor ‘in a Hebridean church service, who sings an initial line and the congregation—i.e. the other instruments—responds (singing the melody in their own time, creating a heterophony). These melodies fly over the surface of the music—or they picture a ship in sail, above the waters.

Underneath the initial canon (lasting 16 bars) is replaced, or merges with thumb variation (lasting 16 bars). [This change happens just before the Violin 1 plays it slowed down version of the tune.] The other initial canon merges with the thumb variation four bars later. When this is completed the first variation appears, in flutes and oboes (lasting 16 bars), followed, 4 bars later, by this same canon played by bassoons and solo cellos. There is a gentle lightening of the texture (from bar 33). A feeling a transcendence.

Variation 2

When the celeste finishes its slower version of the melody (bar 40) a new variation appears (variation 2) played forte by the violas and cellos (it also lasts 16 bars). This time it is not in a canon. This is a sweet moment (from bar 41). The Violin 1 slow melody and trumpet slow melody continue above.

The violin 1 melody next ends (bar 50)—there is some similarity to the end of the celeste melody—for the sweetness of the variation 2 melody appears again (but this is just a continuation of it). Two bars later the bassoon and cello canon (variation 1) ends, and this is replaced by variation 3 (bar 53). This variation is somewhat differently structured, as it is in quaver canon, not a semi-quaver canon, in dotted triplet form. It is in 5 parts, scored in treble, with a high celeste being the fifth part. Its dynamic is mezzo-forte. There is an unusual structural point—because the new canon (variation 3) should have appeared after the conclusion of the flute and oboe canon (bar 48)—for this was the first canon. I, however, needed more space.

The second canon of variation 3 begins four bars later, played by flutes an octave higher, oboes, and trumpet 2 (the fifth part). During its fourth bar the trumpet 1 ends its slow melody (bar 60). The second canon of variation 3 proceeds for 9 bars further—high, exalted, floating above. When the first canon (variation 3) ends (bar 68)—there is a bars silence (as the other canon continues), before the next entry—which is the recapitulation, i.e. the return of the Urlar, scored as it was before (bar 69). The high F sharp, E, D is replaced by the low E to A. The second canon appears four bars later, as before (bar 74). The recapitulation occurs at a slightly slower speed (crotchet = 27).

Eight bars in, the third voice enters (bar 78)—the slow version of the thumb variation. This time it is in canon—two trumpets, a crotchet apart. Instead of continuing for 32 bars, it ends in just 8 bars—with the thumb variation appearing below (bar 86), as the second canon proceeds. The trumpets speak— “great holiness immerses its journey.”[430] The piece ends on the last note of bar 4 (of canon 1, thumb variation) and the final note of canon 2 (Urlar)—forming a G major chord.

Nolan was struck by beauty of the parallel dunes, their “subtle relations intertwining as they [stretched] over the land.”[431] Although The Battle of Sheriffmuir is based on a pibroch from Scotland—from a distant time and place,[432] it achieves something similar—I am doing something comparable to Sculthorpe’s use of the Isé theme, for like Sculthorpe, I “assimilate the theme to the imagery of the work”.[433] Examine the layout of my music (see map 3)—giving a sense of the subtle relations, the intertwining, the mathematical beauty—a land for disappearing into.

In Indigenous eyes

Finding the centre was the “metaphysical dilemma” for white Australians within Aboriginal country[434]: There are countless accounts of the heroic failures of the explorers. “They failed to “recognize the country’s supple, interconnected, Indigenous heart—etched as it was in the songlines of millennia. … What they saw as empty was layered with story.”[435]

Country, in Indigenous eyes, is multidimensional: “There is sea, land and sky Country.” [436]

“Country soars high into the atmosphere, deep into the planet crust and far into the oceans. Country incorporates both the tangible and the intangible, for instance, all the knowledge and cultural practices associated with land. People are part of Country, and their/our identity is derived in a large way in relation to Country.”[437]

People talk about Country like a person—“they speak to country, sing to country, and long for country.”[438] In terms of home, for most Aboriginal groups, symbolism is rarely attached to a shelter—permanent dwellings are too impermanent and may be too similar—but to specific camp sites within a cultural landscape. From this “a sense of security, and domestic memories and experiences”[439] are derived. “Indeed, each family or individual had access to a repertoire of camp sites in their own Country, to any of which they could withdraw if they required social retreat or solitude.”[440] For example, in Lardil Country,[441] important places were associated with specific cultural practices, and knowledge of the dreaming stories adds power to these places.[442]—“When I was a boy of about 12 my mother showed me the place where I was born, it was a pretty place near a clump of pandanus, at the time of felling of the ripe pandanus nut about September”[443]—“[a] birth place was always carefully chosen, plenty of shade from the sun, clean sand, and plenty of firewood to light big fire near mother to keep the flies away.”[444] Resources are mentioned: “[n]ot far away it has a water lily swamp. The water lily is divided to so many people when the lilies are ripe and ready to dig and eat.”[445] Each Lardil person had multiple camp sites. They were often unoccupied, but the sites could be made functional again—a consistent pattern of usage previous experiences would be reenergised, bringing “a wealth of memories, daydreams, nostalgia, imagery of people and events, and revelations at sacred sites, extending back in time through the many seasonal movement cycles.”[446]

Deborah Bird Rose has said, “Indigenous people ‘got in the way’ of the coloniser ‘just by staying at home.’”[447]

Heidegger often spoke about homecoming. For him, it begins with the simplest of phenomena— “the everyday fact of the constant and ongoing encounter that is the world, an encounter with which we are inextricably bound up, an encounter in which things, persons, and our own selves come to light.”[448] He held we need is simple wakefulness—an awakening to see suddenly that the being “is.”[449] The homecoming is a return to the nearness of being. It recognises the placed character of being—“…a turn back, not to what is familiar, in the ordinary sense, but to that which is essentially ‘uncanny’, inexplicable, wondrous.”[450] In doing this, we are reminded of who we are—“mortals creatures, born and destined to die, given over to a world that itself shines.” [451] All beings are included in this—plants, animals, mountains, seas and stars.[452] Each can, in their own way, be lit up, not only from outside, but from within, for “they are luminous in their essence. They are alight, they are appropriated into the event of lightening and therefore never concealed.”[453]

The presencing of what is near, Heidegger holds, is ungraspable by our customary ways of thinking. We turn from this lightening towards what is present in our everyday lives, we “have no inkling of what we have been entrusted with.”[454] This mode of philosophy has links to the poetic—for poetry often expresses reality in a single, simple happening—yet it has tended to be articulated in a non-poetic manner, i.e. metaphysics, which, in Heidegger’s view, leads to the oblivion of being. Heidegger often described “the places and spaces of which he was familiar and which his thinking was embedded—not only the village of Meßkirch,[455] the city of Freiburg, and the locality of Todtnauberg in the Black Forest, but also the particular ‘topos’ of the lecture hall, the seminar room, and of the philosophical essay.”[456] Malpas notes that “…although articulated in forms that necessarily belong to a particular place, the thinking of being that Heidegger attempts is nevertheless one that goes beyond any such place…”[457]—“…we are called to ‘release’ ourselves to the world as that which claims us rather than being claimed by us; called to a journey that turns always homewards.”[458]


Psalm 136 praises the goodness of God, it is a psalm of thanks, “a corporate expression of gratitude.”[459] God is identified as Yahweh.  It describes his work in creation and his work in history—dividing the Red Sea and bringing Israel into their inheritance. Each line has a conclusion—His love endures forever.[460] It is a kind of Credo.[461] The ‘I’ is the LORD. “…it sees behind the stories of the universe and of Israel a special divine quality.”[462]

The homecoming of Israel thus has a history; circling around it are the heavens;[463] beyond and within, God enduring and steadfast love.

The psalm begins by giving gratitude to God (Ps 136:1–3); it speaks his formation of the heavens (vv. 4–9);[464] it details God’s actions in the Exodus, the journey through the wilderness, and his victory over the kings of the Amorites and Bashan (vv. 13–21).[465] It speaks of God giving their land as an inheritance for Israel (vv. 21–22). It says that God remembers us in our low estate[466] and delivers us from our enemies (vv. 23–24). He will to give food to every creature (v. 25). [467] It ends with thanks (v. 26).

The term, ‘low estate’, refers times of ‘abasement’ and ‘humiliation’, “it could describe times like domination by the surrounding peoples during the period of the judges or some of the latter periods including the abject humiliation of the exile.”[468]

“It is the intensely personal when I say “I believe.” I say the creed as if the words applied to me alone. But beneath and within and around my own personal “I,” I hear the surge of a greater voice. There is a corporate “I” in which my own voice participates.”[470] And more deeply—the voice of God.[471]

It the Psalm, time is used in an interesting way. It speaks of the present time, giving thanks to the LORD—the ancient past, of the One who made the heavens—the historical past of Israel, of God who struck down the firstborn or Egypt and gave Israel an inheritance—and current history, for God remembers us in our low estate and gives food to every creature. It speaks of God’s covenant love (ḥesed)—in the past, in the present, and in the future—eternal.

Garry Worete Deverell makes a comparison, referring to ‘The Dreaming’:

“It is like the presence of Yahweh in the burning bush encountered by Moses on Mt Horeb: it is everywhere and always present, in the living things all around and like the breath in our nostrils: it is a past rendered meaningful, a future full of promise, and a present aflame with life in all its fullness.”[469]

The Sweet Sorrow[472]

In my mid-thirties, I wrote a symphonic work, The Sweet Sorrow.  At the beginning of the work I set the opening stanza of a book by Christina Stead, a chapter entitled ‘Sea Peoples’. It speaks about migration to Australia and finding a home here. The work expresses the majesty of sorrow.[473] I was initially inspired by witnessing the Anzac Day ceremony at a school where I was teaching—the Last Post and Reveille. It seemed like this was a religious service, without the mention of religion. As time went on, I incorporated these ideas into a wider perspective, with a sense of Australia, its ancient history, and its landscape being included.[474]

It is a sonata form first movement, with an introduction and an extensive coda. It has an epic character. It is full of lines—at times the lines combine together like the strands of a rope. The harmony is strong and emotionally expressive. It feels like a journey, with the return of melody and tonality as a homecoming,[475] similar to classical form. The influence of Bruckner can be seen—“The pacing, the majesty, the reflection, the circling, the repetition.”[476]

Jeremy Begbie speaks of music being able to offer a concentrated grief—“Consider Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” when performed at the funeral of President John F. Kennedy. By embodying concentrated emotional qualities, music could give voice to, or “speak for,” thousands. The mourners could be emotionally represented in the music; they could identify with it and be pulled into its concentrated expressiveness and thus grieve more deeply, perhaps more appropriately.”[477] A lamenter renders “the isolation of individual mourning into an intensely communal experience.”[478]

Introduction (opening, cue A)

A Passacaglia (seven bars in length) is played at the beginning of the movement (E flat melodic minor), with a setting, for flute and violin 1, of the opening of For Love Alone, entitled ‘Sea People’.[479] The passage describes our continent and its watery place within the world. The Passacaglia is then repeated in canon, one voice upon another; then a concluding melody is played—The Sweet Sorrow, a Hebridean heroic ballad (E flat mixolydian).[480] Isolation—contentment—holiness—and sense of something new.

Exposition (cue B–D)

Cue B—sextuplet figure

A sextuplet figure, a quiet opening to the faster section (E flat minor). A sense of journeying. A new extending melody, Farewell to Music by Carolan,[481] begins (E flat melodic minor), over a restless harmony (B major to F)—originally a credo from an earlier mass. The melody lasts for 42 bars. It has three main sections: a gradual rise and fall, an extended climax (in the upper octave), and a conclusion. The extended climax is accompanied by a doubling at the third of the credo figures played by the full orchestra. The melody ends on an E flat, but over a F major chord.[482]

Two trumpets playing the Last Post and accompanying countermelody melody (E major). It gradually builds to a climax over three repeated countermelodies. 30 bars.

There is a drama and stasis. The first subject—Farewell to Music and the second subject—Last Post—are made up of a continuous melody. When the melody ends, the section ends.[483] The dramatic sense occurs from the unfolding of the melody (in particular, The Farewell to Music) and the expansion of the harmonic ideas; tonality plays a part as well (E flat minor to E major—via the B major/F major).

Development (cue F–I)

Quiet section (using harmonics) based on eight lullabies: Iroquois, Inuit, Manx, Sioux, Chinese, Irish, Scottish, and Brazilian. Each lullaby is stated—some are repeated. A counterpoint of early life (G sharp minor, B major, E Major, F sharp major).[484]

New melody, in canons (E major/A major)—ending in silence.

Farewell to Music (A minor) begins (at first unaccompanied) over the opening of the final fugue from “The Art of Fugue” by Bach (D minor).[485] Fourteen bars in, another melody (B Flat major) begins, expansive and rich, with the upward sweep of an octave. Polytonal. Builds and then quietens. The end of the first part of Farwell to Music is followed by a restatement of the opening Passacaglia and ‘Sea People’ theme, now in B flat minor, played by the brass. The fugue by Bach continues (modulating through its different keys). The music builds, the Passacaglia is stated (inverted) in four parts beneath a falling melody from the Introduction.

Recapitulation (cue J–M)

Sextuplet theme over Passacaglia melody and Farwell to Music (all in E flat minor). Art of Fugue continues. Sudden entry of the brass playing the credo melody (F major/C flat major) underneath a continuation of Farewell to Music. Builds to climax (over an E flat ninth chord). A congruence then appears: the dolce melody from The Art of Fugue comes to the fore, combined with the new melody from the development, now harmonized (B flat major). Builds again—full orchestra playing 10 bars (5 bars in the Bach score) from five of the fugues from the Art of Fugue,[486] each one in the process of moving towards the dominant of E flat.

Last Post (E flat major) in canon, over the lullaby melodies (C minor, E flat major, A flat major, B flat major). This section completes the final fugue by Bach (D minor). Subito section, then Reveille stated by three trumpets, in canon (E flat major, over a C in the bass).

Coda (cue N–O)

New expansive theme played by violas, undergirded by a dotted accompaniment by the cellos and double bass (24 bars). Solo violin begins a pibroch melody and variations, based upon the Sweet Sorrow. Trombone plays a slow version of the Last Post. Gradually it builds, with the pibroch becoming more ornamented and played by more and more violins; brass appears—then a quiet statement of the Sweet Sorrow by violin and oboe, as the Last Post concludes.

Use of Melodies

When I wrote the piece I often wondered about my use of melodies—I didn’t seem to use them as themes and motifs as in a classical symphony—rather, each melody remains as it is.[487] Each melody is played completely (except for last statement of Farewell to Music which misses out its concluding section).[488] The final fugue from The Art of Fugue is also played in full (115 bars, concluding the first section of the fugue). Formerly, instead developing a melody, I introduce a new melody (with somewhat similar intervals)—old and new melodies interplay.

Often the melodies are in counterpoint—

Farewell to Music over credo melody and harmony (at C);

Last Post over three countermelodies (at E);

Lullabies—four at a time in counterpoint (at F);

Farewell to Music over Bach fugue, over B flat sweeping melody (at H);

Opening sextuplet melody over Farewell to Music, over Passacaglia (at J);

Farewell to Music over credo melody and harmony (at K);

New melody (from development) of dolce melody from fugue (at L);

Five Bach fugal phrases in counterpoint (at bar 320);

Last Post over lullabies (at M);

Reveille over countermelodies (at bar 357);

New expansive melody over pibroch version of Sweet Sorrow, over Last Post (after N)

Sometimes, a deeper counterpoint of complete thematic groups—

The final fugue from The Art of Fugue is used as a background for much of the piece (it begins in the second half of the development and ends at the entrance of the second subject in the recapitulation), it comes to the fore—the congruence mentioned earlier—over the new melody from the development (at cue L): “…a sublime episode,” noted a friend.[489]

In terms of modality the music often moves in a series of plateaus—the first section is hexatonic (six note scale), bar 1 to 52;[490] in bar 53 a minor sixth appears;[491] from bar 56 it is mixolydian; at cue B it is harmonic minor; at cue C it becomes chromatic, then polytonal at cue D. In the development section, different structures overlap, comparable to differing levels of the ocean[492]: the Bach fugue (in D minor and its own modulations) is like the deep water with changing features above it—the Farewell to Music (cue H), the Passacaglia (cue I), the return of the first subject (cue J), the credo theme (cue K), the five contrapunctus (bars 316–325), the return of the last post (cue M). All are in motion.

The movement is mostly based on sonata form. There is a tonal development.[493] A drama plays out—a conclusion is reached—a rebirth, a return. Yet remains as it is—a stasis.[494] There are two sections—a central section (the exposition, development and recapitulation) which moves forwards dramatically (finishing with the Reveille)—and an outer section (introduction and coda) which is tonally settled (E flat—using passacaglias and circling themes). The outer sections are distinct however—the introduction is both silent and expectant, the coda is full of life, vibrant, assured. Two uses of time—a linear progressive time enfolded in a cyclic time.

John Butt, analysing Bach’s Mass in B Minor, has spoken about Bach’s use of time:

“Bach has given us a sense of symmetrical circular time simultaneously with a linear or progressive quality. The Bachian sense of time demands progress within stability, a dynamic approach to cyclic time that evokes something of the energy of a spiral.”[495]

Mine is similar, but the transitory is enveloped in the eternal.

“And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!” (2 Cor 3:11)

Time is used in a similar way in Ps 136; the time of redemption is preceded by the work of creation. It also recognises a thankfulness to God, “to him who alone does great wonders” (Ps 136:4)—which my work shares.

Titles as a clue to content

In using titles ‘as a clue to content’, Jonathan Kramer “protests strongly against the dismissal of the language associated with musical scores as less important than their essentially ‘musical’ content. He argues that titles and other verbal cues are not merely incidental to instrumental music. They are not, he says, features of description without which the music could be understood as well, but an essential clue both to its content, and to its continuity with a broader cultural discourse.”[496]

  • ‘Sea People’ speaks of the island continent surrounded by the oceans, and of those who have migrated here from “a scarcely noticeable island up towards the North Pole.”[497] It looks also to the heart of the country.
  • ‘The Sweet Sorrow’ is a pre-Christian, pre-Gaelic tale of ancient Celtic Arthurian legend, about journeying over the seas.[498]
  • ‘Farewell to Music’ and ‘Last Post’ are concerned with loss and death— ‘Farewell to Music’ was the last song of Ireland’s famous harpist, Carolan,[499] ‘Last Post’ is the final bugle call for the day. It has become a call sounded in memory of the dead, traditionally used on Anzac Day.
  • The eight lullabies, by contrast, are personal and ethnic celebrations of new life.
  • ‘The Art of Fugue’ is the final work of Bach—grand, complex, austere.
  • Reveille is first bugle call of the day, representing the resurrection.

Migration, permanence, life, death, and resurrection—each are symbolized.

Introduction: island continent, surrounded by a watery hemisphere. Sweet Sorrow—speaking of a journey.

Exposition: journey begins. Farewell to Music—leaving/travelling. Last Post—west, sunset, death.

Development: eight lullabies—life. Farewell to Music and Art of Fugue—the best of Western culture—an exodus [the fugue helps with this travelling effect]. Passacaglia, island continent appears.

Recapitulation: Farewell to Music—journey continues—an arrival—the dolce melody from the Art of Fugue and B flat major melody (at L). Last Post in E flat combined with lullabies, Reveille—life affirmed.

Coda: New melody—the pibroch—like an internal sea[500]—Last Post slowly—the Sweet Sorrow melody—homecoming

“…the music has no need to go anywhere, no need to find a point of arrival, because it is already there.”[501] 

Chapter 4

It is the Utterly formless and Transcendent Aseity of God plunged down into the world of suffering and things and time, making them all possible, all suffused with Unapproachable Light.”[502]

Returning Bones to Uluru


It is recorded in 2 Sam 21 that Israel was for three years in the grip of a famine. David sought the Lord. The Lord said that the famine was caused by the blood-shedding of Saul. Saul had annihilated the Gibeonites[503] in contravention to the promise Israel had made to protect them (Joshua 9:3–27).[504] The remaining Gibeonites asked that seven of Saul’s male descendants should be killed, and their bodies exposed at Gibeah of Saul. David spared Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth—

“[b]ut the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite.He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.”[505]

One of their mothers, Rizpah daughter of Aiah, set up a memorial on the rock and sheltered her dead sons from the birds and the wild animals. She continued this till the rains fell. When David heard about her response,[506] he went and took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from where they lay and buried them in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin. When they were buried, God answered prayer on behalf of the land.

Some scholars have noted that there may be two separate traditions here: the impaling of Saul’s descendants, and the transfer of Saul and Jonathan’s bones. They question, why the impalement was not sufficient to end the famine? Why did God only respond when the bones were gathered and buried? “The two acts—the impaling and the gathering/burying of the bones—are, in fact, antithetical in nature, the latter being intended to cover corpses and thus respect the dead, the former to expose them and humiliate those executed.”[507] Some suggest that, in the original account, the rains fall after the execution—cf. Rizpah “stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies” (v. 10). In the alternate version, David consulted God because of the famine, God told him to transfer the bones of Saul and Jonathan to their ancestral burial place, David did so, and God send the rain.[508] Perhaps the current account gives us these two versions because the Biblical writer recognized them as two versions of the same event; they are merged in such a way, that the acts of loving-kindness of Rizpah and David takes precedence.[509] Guy Darshan gives this explanation:

“In the new—extant—story, the apotropaic tradition and the magical aspects are played down in favour of David and Rizpah’s acts of charity.”[510]

“In this respect, David’s reburial of the bones joins those accounts that feature a special relationship between Gilead, on one hand, and Saul and Benjamin, on the other (Judg 19–21, esp. 21:1–14; 1 Sam 11).”[511] Place is significant—“gathered to his people.”[512]

Returning to Uluru

“At Wallara Ranch[513] a policeman chased me and got me. He put handcuffs on me and took me from Wallara Ranch … We kept on walking, walking, walking …The policemen’s name was McKinnon …[we] got up and ran away …We were really frightened … The police were still looking around me but I was in the spinifex … We kept going … Then McKinnon started running towards me with two rifles … I held my breath … The policemen went into the cave … The police shot him in front of me … They shot him here [pointing to his forehead] … I felt the other two and really started crying. I cried myself to sleep … I came out that way and ran … We kept running fast till we got to Mount Olga … We were sitting down really hungry, watching, watching … I kept running, I was a young fella then, so I could run fast … I arrived at Utjutja … They looked at me and started crying for me. I was naked, no trousers. Nothing. … Young girls gave me damper and they were crying too. I didn’t look like a really strong man. I got really skinny, poor bugger. … I went and stayed at Wallara. I never saw the police again.”[514]

In Mark McKenna’s account of these events, a foundational Australian-Anangu story is told. Set in 1934. A policeman from Alice Springs, Bill McKinnon, tracked some escaped Aboriginal detainees.[515] For five days they journeyed across the desert until they saw Uluru. The four Aboriginals[516] hid in a cave beneath the rock. McKinnon shot one of them there—Yokununna—but left his body there. The others escaped. McKinnon said the shooting was accidental: “Shot him in self-defence and in attempting to prevent further escape.”[517]

The Australian government was concerned about allegations of cruelty, and an enquiry was organized to examine the circumstances of Yokununna’s death.[518] A party replicated the original journey of McKinnon. When they arrived at Uluru they exhumed his body. For Strehlow,[519] who was member, it was unforgettable: “[I] saw the scene of the final tragedy to-day. I was greatly shocked at the way in which poor [Yokununna] met his death—a poor hunted creature, shot callously at least twice in the cave, without being able either to defend his life or to escape.”[520] They took photos of the visit, and made the first film of Uluru.[521] “Created in the same moment Yokununna’s body was exhumed, they were carried back to Alice Springs together with his remains—the frontiers’ gruesome legacy and the romance of the rock riding cheek by jowl in the same camel boxes.”[522]

During the intervening years Uluru became a symbol of Australia’s ‘red heart.’ It’s almost total isolation—three white visits in sixty years[523]—was transformed. Graded dirt roads were built, airstrips made, camping grounds established and bus trips organised. “‘Picture business’, as the Anangu shrewdly called it, was suddenly bringing white-fellas to their Country in their thousands.”[524] In the 1960s and 70s Anangu began campaigning for land rights. Paddy Uluru—one of the three survivors of the ordeal—placed this story at the centre of their land claims: “Having frightened me [McKinnon] chased me away from there…Uluru is my camp. This is mine, this holy cave; my fathers and grandfathers entrusted me with this cave … Ayers Rock is holy. I am Uluru and these things are mine.”[525] It was done in memory of his brother—who name is rarely mentioned (according to Anangu law). He “was the unspoken spur.”[526]

In 1984 the prime minster, Bob Hawke wanted to return Uluru to the Aboriginal people. In the various submissions to the government the shooting of Yokununna and the exile of Paddy Uluru from his homeland in a response to the shooting became key elements in their case.[527] In 1985 the Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen gave the title deeds for ‘Ayres Rock – Mount Olga’ National Park to the Anangu—causing great celebration.

Mark McKenna gave this testimony: “In November 2019, I visited the South Australian Museum on Adelaide’s North Terrace. … Yokununna’s skull rested in Box 39 …’YOCKANUNNA [sic] COMPLETE SKELETON’. … We noticed the missing initiation tooth and the crazing on the skull’s surface: a thin, spidery web that indicated it had spent considerable time on the ground before exhumation. … I realized that while Joseph Donald claimed he saw McKinnon shoot Yokununna—‘[He] didn’t tell the police where the others were. So they shot him…in front of me…They shot him here [pointing to his forehead]’—there was no bullet hole in his skull. …Eighty-five years after Yokununna’s death, his remains were still subject to the invaders’ gaze.”[528] “The provenance of these human remains had been established and now they were waiting to be collected by elders and returned to Country.”[529]

In August 2020 Paddy Uluru’s sons—Reggie and Cassidy—and Yokununna’s grand-nephew—Sammy, drove to Mutitjulu Waterhole. There they followed Sammy, for he knew the spot where his great-uncle had lost his life. They entered the cave: 

“Finding the place was important, ‘but for Sammy, that event, as important as it was, would never be allowed to overshadow the larger cultural significance of the site. Everything around him—the trees and shrubs, the paintings on the cave walls, the jumble of the boulders at Liru’s feet[530], the scars on the face of the rock and the waterhole itself—was alive. Past and present were one.'”[531]




“The dogma of the Trinity just is the intellectual affirmation that Being is Holy; there is none that is neutral, indifferent, void.“[533]

Honouring the concrete—Being is Holy

Helen Keller[534] writes of the moment in which she began to learn language. “I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy set it free! “[535] Here we see “the birth of the intellectual, the generic and universal, within the concrete.”[536] “Keller seems to have been liberated, humanized, re-born inwardly by suddenly grasping—no, being illumined!—that this very one, the pool of cool wetness was water.”[537]

Three outworkings of this: historical, compositional, and theological.

James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton,[538] was a major promoter of Cook’s voyage. He gave Cook and his associates a series of hints. He urged them “[t]o exercise the upmost patience and forbearance with respect to the Natives of the several Lands where the Ship may touch. … To have it still in view that shedding the blood of those people is a crime of the highest nature—They are human creatures, the work of the same omnipotent Author … they are the natural, and…legal possessors of the several Regions they inhabit.”[539] Each one should be treated with “distinguished humanity”—for they are “Lords of the Country.”[540]

“Lords of the Country”—Yet—

“Within a generation the civilisations of the eastern seaboard—older than the Pharaohs—were ravaged.

“Across Australia nations that had not seen a white man—Bandjalang, Kamilaroi, Ngarrindjeri, Arabana, Darumbal, Gaurindji, Yawuru, Watjarri, Burkindji, and all of the other hundreds of distinct peoples, each with their own law and song and dance, all of them separate with their own boundaries defined by kinship and trade—in the eyes of the British simply never existed.

“Soon we would lose our names; names unique, inherited from our forefathers. Then our languages would be silenced. Soon children would be gone. This is how we disappear. Now Australians pay their respects to the elders of nations of which they have no idea.”[541]

To honour life hinges on a way of perceiving other people that leads “to a posture of reverence toward them and then a consequent sense of responsibility for them.”[542]

Bach worked “with the grain of the universe”—each inventio has an appropriate form that honours God, who seems to enable the flourishing “as intrinsic to the matter itself.”[543] I work with the concrete—i.e. existing traditional melodies; I participate with them; I transform them—like bees I enter a flower and turn my “pilferings into honey.”[544]

“We do not stand in the realm of Hegel’s negation, where the world is the Not-God, recognized and drawn into and made Identical to the Spirit who created it; the God-world relation is not diremption and agon. Rather, there is likeness, a radiant commonality, a share in the Divine Life, A Humility laid down in this earth. … It is not opposition, not contradiction, not visible and seen as over-against but rather Hidden, Radiant, Intimate.”[545]

When Phillip arrived in Australia he and those with him settled in a continent that had more than 60,000 year human history.  Their society had a “sophisticated political, social and cultural organisation, including trading networks and a complex system of governance, justice and decision-making.”[546] They were custodians of 7.7 million square kilometres of land. Philip’s conquest was against British law—

“[the people encountered were] in the strictest sense of the word, the legal possessors of the several Regions they inhabit … Conquest over such people can give no just title.”[547] 

and International law—

“No-one asked permission to settle. No-one consented, no-one conceded. Sovereignty was not passed from the Aboriginal people by any actions of legal significance voluntarily taken by or on behalf of them.”[548]

‘Our Story’, the Aboriginal history of Australia, was written as a follow up to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It speaks of the pain of dispossession—

“The continent was occupied by our people and the footprints of our ancestors traversed the entire landscape. … The entire land and seascape is named, and the cultural memory of our old people is written there. This rich diversity of our origins was eventually ruptured by colonisation. Violent dispossession and the struggle to survive a relentless inhumanity has marked our common history.”[549]

As Australians, we share a responsibility for this evil. We need to lament—to both tell the truth about our origins and be deeply conscious of the pain we have inflicted. 

“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore’” (Jer 33:19–22).

We have no right to deny this ancient culture—as the day and night continue, as the stars in the sky keep shining—this heritage remains, it is a spiritual notion.

“This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born there from, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.”[550]

North Head

I was born at Manly Hospital, not far from North Head.[551]

William Dawes was a gifted amateur linguist from the First Fleet. He notated the words and phrases of his young informant, Patyegarang. Seeing the flight of pelicans, Patyegarang responding, singing—

No_tu_lu_bru_law no_tie

            Gnoo_roo_me, ta_tie, na_tie, na_tie

            D[itto] repeated

            Tar_rah_wow, Tar_rah_wow[552]

Dawes misheard one of the syllables: ‘Tar-rah’ sung nasally is “pronounced ‘Car-rah’ (i.e. Car-rang), the totemic site of the Pelican from a creation story that the colonists dubbed North Head.”[553]  Dennis Foley, a current Gai-mariagal elder, commented: “When you see the pelicans, you always pay homage. And when you see pelicans rise in a big flock, that’s when everyone starts singing that song.”[554] He continued:

“I’ll explain the whole cycle, which goes halfway round Australia, and which for us begins and ends at Car-rang gel [North Head]. When they leave here, the pelicans fly the big route up over Mt Yengo. They fly from Car-rang gel to Mt Yengo and then they hook up and go up near Armidale, then swing around across the Queensland border, up into Queensland, up into the Northern Territory. Then they come back in a big arc, over Atilla and to Alice Springs. Then they curve around from Alice, because one part of the song-line stops at Alice, at the end of the MacDonnell Ranges. …our car-rang gel song-line continues under a different name in an arc out from Alice, up the MacDonald Ranges and around to Kata Tjuta and Uluru. Then it slips down to the basins: Lake Eyre and those places. This is where the pelicans then have their babies, when the water has come down from the north.

“Then there’s another song-line that comes down from Lake Eyre and other water places and hooks around down almost to Mt Gambier… Then it curves around and comes through the Snowy Mountains. …the song-line changes and it comes up through the volcano (Mt Dromedary) near Nowra. Interestingly, in big westerlies some are blown off course to Aotearoa (New Zealand);[555] where they want to breed, they fly north off Cape Reinga, catch a jet stream back to Queensland and link you with the song line to Atilla—and the cycle continues [again]. …

“The song-line continues right across through Goulburn, across the Monaro, of course, up into Kangaroo Valley, and another volcano near Mittagong called Bowrell, now known as Mt Gibraltar or the Gib. Then that comes up and it flies straight up the harbour, straight back to Car-rang gel. There’s probably about five song-lines all mixed in there, but in one big connected loop.”[556]


Circling, spiralling, the song-lines record the flight of the pelican—from North Head to Uluru and back again to North Head—covering c. seven thousand kilometres. Or, if the flight to New Zealand is included, c. twelve thousand kilometres. 

To live here—at a particular place—carries with it the cycling of our ancestors, the movements of other living beings, the realms of the spirit; one place—multiplied by the infinite.

“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

“And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’

“’Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’  Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”[558]


“Of all places, Australia is the place to rediscover the power that is generated through the silent immensity of empty space.”[559] The Jewish experience of God was linked to their landscape and their history. [560]  The “vast and awesome” desert landscape was a necessary part of God’s revelation. Their experience of exile—in Egypt and Babylon—and thence liberation, was crucial for their insight into the divine. Australia shares these things: a third of the continent is desert—and a two hundred and fifty year history that is full of indigenous tragedy.

The desert humbles us, and opens us to revelation.[561] The self-emptying of God described in the Servant Song in Isaiah 53 and the mystery of Jesus in Phil 2:6–8 can be a stumbling block, but we can find glory here.[562] I have experienced this in my compositional silence and rebirth. To laments, to seek repentance, to long for a homeland[563]—these are the evidences of love, God sees them as a worship in spirit and truth—a tabernacling.[564] Frailty—the temporality of the structure[565]—and joy.[566]

William Ridley, an early missionary to the Aboriginal people, spoke of their spirituality, noting “above all, a thirst for religious mystery.”[567] Patrick White, by contrast, wrote of “the Great Australian emptiness,” Manning Clark, termed it “the Kingdom of nothingness,” Xavier Herbert, “the Great Australian Thirst.”[568]

Jesus was questioned by a Samaritan woman, “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” (John 4:11). Their heritage is deep. She has the means of drawing from it. Still, she asks for something more (vv. 13–15).

Isaiah said:

In the desert prepare the way for the Lord.

Make straight in the wilderness

a highway for our God.

The Uluru Statement concludes with these words:

“We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”[569]

Appendix 1—Uluru Statement from the Heart

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born there from, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.



Carroll, John. In Terra Pax. 1979.


———. Air Des Naturels De La N[ouve]lle Hollande. 2019.


———. A Lover of Mild Behavior (2). 2021.


———. The Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon (2). 2019.


———. The Battle of Sheriffmuir. 2019.


———. The Sweet Sorrow. 1996.


Sculthorpe, Peter. Mangrove. 1979.


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[1] Mark McKenna, Return to Uluru (Carlton: Black Inc, 2021), 187. Italics added.

[2] Dan 6: 10.

[3] 2 Chron 6:38. “So, while the Jew addresses the universal, transcendent Creator, God Who “is in heaven,” he relates to this God by way of the Jewish historical experience.” Shubert Spero, ‘Turning to Jerusalem in Prayer’, Jewish Bible Quarterly 31,2 (2003), 4. Where our eyes look—that is the place of prayer.

[4] A large sandstone formation at Australia’s centre—sacred to the Pitjantjatjara (Anangu) Aboriginal people. It is one of the most important indigenous sites, a popular tourist destination, and one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks.

[5] A rich and powerful allusion: “a statement ‘from the heart’, declared at the metaphysical heart of Anangu country, aimed at the hearts of all Australians.” Duncan Ivison, Can Liberal States Accommodate Indigenous Peoples? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2020), xi.

[6] The Uluru Statement from the Heart., accessed 9 Sept 2021.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Henry Reynolds, Truth-Telling, History, Sovereignty and the Uluru Statement (Sydney: NewSouth book, 2021), 3. “It would represent the first official and adequately funded body to examine the fraught history of relations between the First Nations and the Europeans invaders. It would have to tackle questions that have been deeply controversial and much contested during the last two generations…” Ibid., 3.

[9] The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

[10] “Remember, Lord, what has happened to us;
    look, and see our disgrace.
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
    our homes to foreigners.” Lamentations 5:1–2.

[11] McKenna, Return to Uluru.

[12] Judith Wolfe, Heidegger and Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 23. I was eleven when I discovered an interest in composition; it has never left me—fifty years later I practice the same craft. I find truth in this way. “The role of the classical composer has always been as a mouthpiece for the feelings and aspirations of society—and still is. … We might fall flat on our faces but the aspirations are more than enough to keep us going. Politics are transitory, art is eternal.” Sculthorpe. Gwyneth Barnes, Peter Sculthorpe, An Australian Composer’s Influence (Melbourne: Brolga Publishing, 2011), introductory quotation.

[13] In Terra Pax, Air Des Naturels De La N[ouve]lle Hollande, A Lover of Mild Behavior, The Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon, The Battle of Sheriffmuir, and The Sweet Sorrow.

[14] “One of the defining figures in twentieth-century Australian music, Peter Sculthorpe was an artist with the rare ability to capture and conjure, often through the simplest of compositional means, the essence of place.”

 He taught me to think deeply about Australia in my music., accessed 16/10/2021.  He has written a number of laments. I analyse Mangrove—a work of “heroic stoicism; indeed the last few bars have a grandeur and nobility which is exceedingly rare in the music of our time.” David Matthews, ‘Peter Sculthorpe at 60’, Tempo, Sep., 1989, New Series, No. 170, 50th Anniversary 1939–1989, 14.

[15] Garry Worete Deverell, Gondwana Theology, A Trawloolway man reflects on Christian Faith (Reservoir: Morning Star Publishing, 2018), 22.

[16] (1484–1566).

[17] David P. Gushee, The Sacredness of Human Life, Why an Ancient Biblical Vision is Key to the World’s Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013), 189. “The Bible, the church fathers, and a handful of classical authors, authoritatively interpreted by the church, communicated all the truth needed for life.” Ibid., 189. He was closer to the gospels than those who quoted them.

[18] Katherine Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity: Processions and Persons (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2020), 479.

[19] I have no other home than this—a son

of southern skies. My forebears came to stay.

Like ducks that in formation near a sunset

fly, apocalyptic things remain

a feature of our lives. Migration made,

we cannot turn. And those whose home we now

have come to share, a branch engrafted, swayed

by the same winds? We make a solemn vow

in memory of their many dead, to often

think about our origins, and try

to make amends. A sunset pours its softening

light around the birds. They westwards fly.

John Carroll, They Westwards Fly, 2015.

[20] Gershom Scholem, ‘On Lament and Lamentation’, trans. Lina Barouch and Paula Schwebel, Jewish Studies Quarterly, 2014, Vol. 21, No. 1, Special Issue: Gershom Scholem, ‘On Lament and Lamentation’ (2014), 11.

[21] Ibid., 12.

[22] Hermann Cohen. Ilit Ferber, ‘“Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech”: Scholem, Benjamin, and Cohen on Lament’, in Lament in Jewish Thought, 124.

[23] Ibid., 131.

[24] Scholem, ‘On Lament and Lamentation’, 11.

[25] Elizabeth Tolbert, ‘Voice, Metaphysics and Community. Pain and Transformation in the Finnish-Karelian Lament’, in Sarah Coakley & Kay Shelemay, eds., Pain and its Transformations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 148.

[26] Section 48, Elizabeth Duncan, ‘Comments on “Postures of listening” by Victor A. Stoichita and Bernd Brabec de Mori’, Jérôme Dokic, Robert S. Hatten, Tim Ingold, Michel Kreutzer et Elizabeth Tolbert, Terrain, anthropologie & sciences humaines,, accessed 14/04/21.

[27] Tolbert, ‘Voice, Metaphysics and Community’, 148.

[28] Carine Plancke, ‘Pain, Rhythm, and Relation: Funerary Lament among the Punu of Congo-Brazzaville’, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol. 47 (2015), 97.

[29] Ibid., 97.

[30] Ibid., 97.

[31] Ibid., 97.

[32] Ibid., 97.

[33] Ibid., 98. Italics added. This has relevance to my music.

[34] Ibid., 98.

[35] My paternal grandfather came from Ireland, hence my name.

[36] Gerald Porter, ‘Grief for the Living: Appropriating the Irish lament for songs of emigration and exile’, Humanities Research Vol XIX No 3 2013, 15. Quoting, Lysaght, Patricia 1997, ‘Caoineadh os Coinn Coirp. The lament for the dead in Ireland’, Folklore, vol. 108, pp. 65–82, at pp. 66, 69.

[37] Gerald Porter, ‘Grief for the Living’, 17.

[38] Ibid., 19.

[39] Ibid., 19–20.

[40] “It has been estimated that of the 100 000 emigrants to Canada alone, 40 0000 died.” Ibid., 21.

[41] Ibid., 25. Quoting, Ó Laoire, On A Rock in the Middle of the Ocean, 235.

[42] Frances Klopper, ‘Lament, the Language for Our Times’, Old testam. essays vol.21 n.1 Pretoria, 2008, 133– 134.

[43] An example of this: Alison Page and a colleague flew to Dubbo then travelled for four hours by road. When they arrived in Brewarrina, they met Uncle Les. “The first thing he asked us was how long we had to talk. When we told him we only had the afternoon, he told us to jump back in the car right away and return when we had more time.” Alison Page & Paul Memmott, Design, Building on Country, First Knowledge (Port Melbourne: Thames & Hudson, 2021), 177–178.

[44] Terraced fields are mentioned or “fields that yield grain offerings.” NIV footnote.

[45] Mari Joerstad, The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics, Humans, Nonhumans, and the Living Landscape (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019), 108.

[46] Ibid., 108. “Nature does not stand outside Israel and YHWH’s relationship as an external and arbitrary measure of adherence to YHWH’s statutes.” Ibid., 37.

[47] Book of Jashar is also referred to in Josh 10:3. Both these verses addresses nature. The text proclaims that the whole world, sky as well as earth, is obedient to YHWH and YHWH’s servants. The strength of the Ammonite army is nullified by the sun and moon’s obedience. In the other passage [2 Sam 1] referenced in the Book of Jathar, nature shares in the grief:  Nature acts as a grief-stricken neighbour, the hills of Gilboa share in the loss. Joerstad, The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics, 106, 108.

[48] Scholem, ‘On Lament and Lamentation’, 11.

[49] David Toshio Tsumara, The Second Book of Samuel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2019), 53.

[50] Tod Linafelt, ‘Private Poetry and Public Eloquence in 2 Samuel 1:17-27: Hearing and Overhearing David’s Lament for Jonathan and Saul’, The Journal of Religion Vol. 88, No. 4 (October 2008), 511.

[51] Ibid., 505. See Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1990), 213. Robert Alter calls it “a grandly resonant lament,” also describes it as “another public utterance of David’s that beautifully serves his political purposes. See Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry (New York: Basic, 1985).

[52] Ibid., 508.

[53] Robert Barron, 2 Samuel, BTCB (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015), 18. “For David, Yahweh is ‘Providence’; for Saul, Yahweh is ‘Fate’”, 166.

[54] Katherine Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, The Doctrine of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 497.

[55] Ibid., 501.

[56] Ibid., 522. See 1 Sam 18:1–5; 20:17; 20:30–34; 22:15–18.

[57] Emmylou J. Grosser, ‘A Cognitive Poetics Approach to the Problem of Biblical Hebrew Poetic Lineation’: Perception-oriented Lineation of David’s Lament in 2 Samuel 1:19-27, University of the Free State, Hebrew Studies 58 (2017), 194.

[58] Ibid., 194.

[59] Linafelt, ‘Private Poetry and Public Eloquence’, 516.

[60] Lev 5:5; 16:21; Pr 28:13.

[61] Lev 26:4–5.

[62] Lev 26:16–17.

[63] Lev 26:40–42.

[64] Other Biblical examples: 2 Chron 34:19, 27; 2 Kings 20:5; 1 Kings 21:27–29; 2 Chron 33:12–13.

[65] In the history of revivals this is a common occurrence. At the awakening in Möttlingen (1843–44) “the pastor [Blumhardt] receives a letter from first one and then that one; these letters contain confession of sins. … After New Year 1844 a man from the congregation comes to the pastor … He makes a full confession. One after another his friends make their way to the parsonage … On January 8, four people seek him out; on the 27th, it is sixteen, on the 30th thirty-five persons. In February the number rises to sixty-seven, then 156 and following this 246.  … He is occupied without pause from seven o’clock in the morning until eleven at night. … The entire congregation undergoes a spiritual renewal, a painful and then liberating process of self-knowledge and repentance.” Dieter Ising, Johann Christoph Blumhardt, Life and Work, A New Biography, trans Monty Ledford (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009), 189–191.

[66] Bjorn Krondorfer, “Of Faith and Faces: Biblical Texts, Holocaust Testimony and German ‘After Auschwitz’ Theology” in Tod Linafelt. Strange Fire: Reading the Bible after the Holocaust (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 102. Italics added.

[67] The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

[68] Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (1971) 17 FLR 141. I am using the references that are cited in Henry Reynolds, Truth-Telling.

[69] Williams v the Attorney-General of NSE (1913), 16 CLR 404, at 439. Original italics.

[70] Henry Reynolds, Truth-Telling, 50.

[71] Ibid., 50.

[72] Anon., Copious Remarks on the Discovery of New South Wales, printed for the booksellers in town and country, London, 1787, 51. Banks was questioned by the Commons Committee on Transportation in May 1785. ‘Do you think that 500 men being put on shore would meet with that Obstruction from the Natives which might prevent them settling there?’ Banks replied, “Certainly not…I am inclined to believe they would speedily abandon the country to the newcomers.” Reynolds, Truth-Telling, 21.

[73] Phillip to Sydney, 15 May 1788, HRA, series 1, no. 1, 30-31.

[74] E de Vattel, The Law of Nations, (1758), trans. CG Fenwick, Carnegie Institution, Washington DC, 1916, 309.

[75] US v Percheman (1833), 32 US 51.

[76] Philip Gidley King Papers, series 2, ML, SAFE/C 189.

[77] Reynolds, Truth-Telling, 54.

[78] Wheaton, Elements of International Law, 18.

[79] FC von Savigny, Treatise on Possession, 6th edn, trans. E Perry, S Sweet, London, 1848, 5, 149, 272.

[80] CF Wolff, The Law of Nations, (1750), 2 vols, trans. JH Drake, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1934, vol. 1, 158.

[81] Quoted in B Slattery, Ancestral Lands: Alien Laws, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, 1983, 6.

[82] Calder v Attorney-General of British Columbia (1973) 34 DLR (3d) 145, 203.

[83] Worcester v Georgia (1832), 31, US 515 (6 Peters), 517, 543.

[84] Johnson v McIntosh (1823), 31 US 543 (8 Wheaton), 574, 603.

[85] Mitchel v US (1835) 34 US 711 (9 Peters), 746.

[86] J Dredge, Brief Notices of the Aborigines of New South Wales, James Harrison, Geelong, 1845, 6-7.

[87] George Augustus Robinson Journal, 1839-40, ML, A 7035, vol. 14.

[88] Reynolds, Truth-Telling, 66.

[89] Grey to Fitzroy, 11 February 1848, Colonial Office, CO 201/382, UK National Archives.

[90] Grey to Fitzroy, 10 February 1850, Colonial Office, CO 208/5, UK National Archives.

[91] Grey to Fitzroy, 10 February 1850. Grey warned that the honour of the imperial and colonial governments was ‘deeply concerned in proving that no effort [had] been wanting on their part to avert the destruction of the Native Races as a consequence of occupation of their territories by British subjects.’ Ibid.

[92] Mabo v Queensland (No. 2) (1992) 107 ALR 1, 55.

[93] Reynolds, Truth-Telling, 135.

[94] Ibid., 135.

[95] Ibid., 135.

[96] Ibid., 136.

[97] Ibid., 137. “It had been stolen from people who were subjects within the King’s peace.” Ibid., 137. “Hundreds of years of tradition were overturned.” Ibid., 138.

[98] Ibid., 137.

[99] Ibid., 138. “The second profoundly contentious aspect of the law inherited from the era of imperial administration was the rule that the people of the First Nations were, without exception, British subjects. Where this really mattered was when Aboriginal people were killed … But the problem was that few colonists accepted the basic premise of the law.” Ibid., 218-9.

[100] Ibid., 139.

[101] Ibid., 141. Biblical examples: 2 Chron 35:25 “Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah…”—Jer 22:10, 15–16. Lament for King Josiah—“He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?”  Jer 3:6–6:30 “During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me…”—4:3 “Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD…”

[102] Matt 6:22–23. Also, Luke 11:33–34.

[103] “…the premodern notion of the human eye as a source or channel of light is also familiar in contemporary Jewish sources.” Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, TNICNT (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1997), 465.

[104] Matt 6:24.

[105] “Jesus warns his audience that one must choose which master one will serve: those who work for possessions will end up hating God; those who work for God will end up hating possessions.” Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew, A Social-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 233.

[106] Listen:

[107] Vincent Plush, ABC Broadcast. 

[108] Ibid. “The work is simple in design, consisting of but a small number of figures and sonorities, which the composer uses for a type of meditation for the two instruments.” Ibid.

[109] Ray P. Norris and Duane W. Hamacher, ‘Astronomical Symbolism in Australian Aboriginal Rock Art’, Rock Art Research 2011, Volume 28, Number 1, 99–106.

[110] I noticed recently that the final main section (bar 83 onwards) carries a reference to the slow melodic descent over a digeridoo.

[111] Vincent Plush has commented that my pieces “…reflect an Interest in Bruckner, whose ideas on formal structure, clarity of line, and indeed, a certain degree of religious connotation, are almost foreshadowed in the work in question. For In Terra Pax, not quite seven minutes long, conveys a similar sense of lofty idealism and inner strength.” ABC Broadcast.

[112] Robert Kenny, The Lamb Enters the Dreaming, Nathanael Pepper & the Ruptured World (Melbourne: Scribe, 2007), 334.

[113] Ibid., 213. Nathanael was moved by the depiction of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  “…to atone for sin the in Garden of Happiness (Eden), Jesus confronts and agrees to his suffering in the garden of Agony.” Ibid., 195.

[114] Tim Ingold, Lines (Milton Park: Routledge Classics, 2016), 1.

[115] Ibid., 77.

[116] Ibid., 78.

[117] Ibid., 79.

[118] Ibid., 82.

[119] Ibid., 78.

[120] Ibid., 92.

[121] Ibid., 93. “There is no point at which the story ends and life begins.” Ibid., 93.

[122] Ibid., 93.

[123] Nomadic people from eastern Siberia.

[124] Ibid., 93.

[125] Heonik Kwon, ‘The Saddle and the Sledge: Hunting as Comparative Narrative in Siberia and Beyond’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Mar, 1998, Vol 4, No 1, 121.

[126] Kwon, ‘The Saddle and the Sledge’, 121.

[127] Ingold, Lines, 102.

[128] Ibid., 102.

[129] Ibid., 103.

[130] Ibid., 103. Although, in “a finer scale.” Ibid., 103.

[131] Ibid., 82. “…songlines that, in Aboriginal cosmology, crisscross the entire continent of Australia are said to have been traced out by ancestral creator beings as they roamed the country during the formative era known as the Dreaming, leaving their mark in such landscape features as hills, rocky outcrops, waterholes and gullies.” Ibid., 51.

[132] Ibid., 119.

[133] Ibid., 121.

[134] Ibid., 122. “In reality, the past is with us as we press into the future. In this pressure lies the work of memory.” Ibid., 122.

[135] Tim Ingold, The Life of Lines (Milton Park: Routledge Classics, 2015), 7.

[136] Ibid., 3.

[137] Ibid., 11.

[138] Ibid., 11. In Ancient Greece, the term ‘harmony’ referred to the way things were held together by the tension of contrary forces, as in joining planks in shipbuilding, the suturing of bones in the body and the stringing of the lyre. Ibid., 12.

[139] Ps 139.

[140] Ibid., 20.

[141] Ibid., 19.

[142] Ibid., 137.

[143] Ibid., 143.

[144] Ibid., 145. “[A] life is forever escaping from the life which leaves its appearance as benchmarks on the banks.” Ibid., 145.

[145] Ibid., 148.

[146] Ibid., 154.

[147] Ibid., 148.

[148] Ibid., 155.

[149] Ibid., 155.

[150] Ibid., 156.

[151] Tim Ingold, ‘Dreaming of dragons: on the imagination of real life’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December 2013, Vol 19, No. 4, 749.

[152] Ibid., 744.

[153] Ibid., 748. “This healing, I content, must be a first step towards establishing a more open-ended and sustainable way to live.” Ibid., 748.

[154] Ben Myers, The Apostles’ Creed (Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2018).

[155] My forebears came from Brittany, Scotland, Ireland and England. Settings: Brittany melodies—76, Scottish melodies—133, Irish melodies—128, English melodies—­92. See:

[156] Myers, The Apostles’ Creed, 9.

[157] Ibid., 10.

[158] Ibid., 11. John Shepherd, Continuum Encyclopaedia of Popular Music of the World: Volume II: Performance and Production, Volume 11. (London: A&C Black, 2003), 146.

[159] Some have referred to laments as having this quality: A lament is something in-between—not isolated crying, nor unison singing, but “a complex pattern of multiple overlapping voices.” Plancke, ‘Pain, Rhythm, and Relation’, 98.

[160] Barth said that “God’s beauty embraces death as well as life, fear as well as joy, what we might call the ugly as well as what we might call the beautiful.” Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, trans. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance, II/1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1957), 665.

[161] They can proceed endlessly—Round or rota is their usual title.

[162] Richard Taruskan, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century (New York: Oxford, 2005), 331.

[163] The original French name was the chace, a cognate of the English chase.

[164] Ibid., 333.

[165] Machaut’s canon is a meditation on human and divine love. It speaks of a lover, whose lady has rejected him and who seeks solace in divine love, on the mysteries of the Virgin birth and the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity—three Persons in one Godhead. The image of the fountain appears in the fourth pair of verses, the second to be set as a chase. It is a Trinitarian metaphor: “Imagine a fountain, a stream, and a canal; they are three, but the three make one; a single water through all three must run.” Ibid., 333.

[166] William Desmond, ‘Consecrated Love: A Philosophical Reflection on Marriage’, Marriage, Families & Spirituality, Vl. 7, Issue 1. Spring 2005, 12.

[167] Ibid., 12. “There is a spirit of love that we find ourselves in, and that works on us and in us and through us.” Ibid., 13.

[168] Ibid., 7–8.

[169] Ibid., 9.

[170] Ibid., 10.

[171] Ibid., 11.

[172] Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You (London: Faber, 2021), 325.

[173] Desmond, ‘Consecrated Love’, 8.

[174] Margaret Plant, Love and Lament, an essay on the arts in Australia in the twentieth century (Port Melbourne: Thames & Hudson, 2017), 344.

[175] Jennifer Homans, Apollo’s Angels, A History of Ballet (New York: Random house, 2010), 509. Balanchine “emphasized clarity and precision—not perfection, necessarily, but the physical geometry of classical ballet.” Ibid., 509. Ballet originated in the court of Charles IX. Influenced by Neo-Platonism, the designers sought to create a spectacle “in which the rigorous rhythms of classical Greek verse would harmonize dance, music, and language in a measured whole. Number, proportion, and design, they felt, could elucidate the occult order of the universe, thus revealing God.” Ibid., 5.

[176] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 58–59. Ingold speaks of this order as a kind of ‘resonance’: “The rhythms of human activities resonate not only with those of other living things but also with a whole host of otherrhythmic phenomena—the cycles of day and night and of the seasons, the winds, the tides, and so on. … we resonate to the cycles of light and darkness, not to the rotation of the earth … we resonate to the cycles of vegetative growth and decay … Moreover, these resonances are embodied, in the sense that they are not only historically incorporated into the enduring features of the landscape but also developmentally into our very constitution as biological organisms.” Tim Ingold, ‘The temporality of the landscape’, World Archaeology, 25:2, 163.

[177] Mentioned earlier—see Lament section.

[178] Gershom Scholem, A Life in Letters: 1914-1982, ed. and trans. Anthony David Skinner (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 103.

[179] Ibid., 49–50.

[180] Ibid., 50.

[181] Ilit Ferber, ‘Lament and Pure Language: Scholem, Benjamin and Kant’, Jewish Studies Quarterly, 2014, Vol. 21, No. 1, Special Issue: Gershom Scholem, ‘On Lament and Lamentation’ (2014), 44–45.

[182] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 4.

[183] Ibid., 3.

[184] B.W. Higman, Flatness (London: Breaktion Books, 2017), 202.

[185] Tim Ingold, ‘Dreaming of dragons: on the imagination of real life’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December 2013, Vol 19, No. 4, 740.

[186] Ibid., 741.

[187] Ibid., 749.

[188] “Yet in our experience as inhabitants, moving through the world rather than roaming its outer surface, our knowledge is not built up as an external accretion but grows and unfolds from the very inside of our earthly being. We grow into the world, as the world grows in us.” Ibid., 745–746.

[189] A mythical creature.

[190] Ibid., 749.

[191] Tim Ingold, ‘Stories Against Classification, Transport, Wayfarer and the Integration of Knowledge’, Being Alive, Essay on Movement, Knowledge and Description (London: Routledge, 2011), 161.

[192] Tim Ingold, ‘Surface Textures: The Ground and the Page’, Philological Quarterly 97.2 (2018), 141.

[193] In communist societies, folk/traditional music was seen as significant. Its collectivity and simplicity were admired. Its political force was based on its familiarity and communality. Mao recognised its “authoritative voice and symbolic force.” ‘Folk music’, argued the left-wing poet He Qifang (1912-1977), ‘reflects life and expresses [people’s] emotion freely’. New words—ones that spoke of a revolutionary hope—were set to older melodies. But often the popularity of a song relied not so much on the lyrics, but on the rich and colourful tunes. “[The words] hyperbole was frequently compensated by the rich, robust folk melodies, delivered with spontaneous playfulness and high passion.” Xian Xinghai (1905-1945), a famous Chinese composer, considered melodies as the most important component in a song, he viewed the practice of leaving out the melodies as unfortunate, for the melodies were a song’s “vitality.” The Soviet music theorist, Asaev, used the term, ‘songfulness’: “By songfulness, Asafiev was referring to the dominant quality of linearity and melodic aspect in music.” He spoke of vitality—“music is life-like when it realizes a Bergsonian élan vital (vital impulse), the all-encompassing principle that subsumes the ongoing and unpredictable creation of the new.” Chang-Tai Hung, ‘The Politics of Songs: Myths and Symbols in the Chinese Communist War Music, 1937- 1949’, Modern Asian Studies, Oct., 1996, Vol. 30, No. 4, Special Issue: War in Modern China (Oct., 1996), 908, 927, 909. Elina Viljanen, ‘The formation of Soviet cultural theory of music (1917–1948)’, Studies in East European Thought (2020) 72, 149, 140.

[194] Ibid., 141.

[195] Tim Ingold, ‘Ways of Mind-Walking, Reading, Writing, Painting’, Being Alive, Essay on Movement, Knowledge and Description (London: Routledge, 2011), 198–199.

[196] Ibid.,198–199.

[197] Ibid., 200. “Perhaps music, alluring from ancient times, might be held to be an intelligible object, notated certainly, but alive in realms far beyond the staff and quaver.” Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 273.

[198] John Cage, Empty Words, English Edition (London: Marion Boyars, 1980), 152.

[199] Cohen. Ilit Ferber, ‘Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech’: Scholem, Benjamin, and Cohen on Lament’, in Lament in Jewish Thought, 124.

[200] Kyle Gann, No Such Thing as Silence, John Cage’s 4’33’’ (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 102. See Eckhardt, Talks of Instruction.

[201] Ibid., 153.

[202] David Revill, The Roaring Silence, John Cage: A Life (London: Bloomsbury, 1992), 153.

[203] Isabel, in Eve Courtney’s novel, Isabel’s Reach, wants to understand everything— “It’s like, when something…imagine a foreign language. It’s an unintelligible, inaccessible mess. But then, little by little, it takes shape. It’s ordered. It makes sense. To do that…it’s a kind of creative power.” Eve Courtney, Isabel’s Reach, unpublished, 149–150. 

[204] Elliott, Providence, 118 Quoting Fretheim. “It is on the basis of a deeper understanding of the divine plan that Moses attempts to convince God to pursue His initial intentions. His intercession is profoundly in tune with YHWH’s nature and purposes.” Fretheim, God and World in the Old Testament, 342.

[205] Elliott, Providence, 118 Quoting Fretheim.

[206] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 1, 277.

[207] Tim Ingold, Correspondences (Cambridge: Pollity, 2021), 23.

[208] Dr John Rudder, Anthropologist and former teacher at Elcho Island (1966–1977). God’s Firestorm, Elcho Island Fireball, video,, accessed 22/06/21.

[209] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 469-470.

[210] The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

[211] “Now in this Servant Song from the prophet Isaiah, we encounter the servant in the midst of his people, in the midst of the nations of this earth. He is making his way to his grave with the wicked, and it is a lonely way. He is despised and rejected; the nations laugh at this mangled one; he knows their icy contempt, whispered behind hands held up before one’s face, turned away, turned towards a conspirator; they relish together their scorn for the weak. This is the tender plant that has no form or beauty. The servant is the offscouring of the busy world, the one a no account, the unseen, the thrown away.” Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 287.

[212] Ibid., 309.

[213] Ibid., 309.

[214] Ibid., 287.

[215] Ibid., 288.

[216] Ibid., 288.

[217] Ibid., 292.

[218] Ibid., 292.

[219] Ibid., 288.

[220] Ibid., 299.

[221] Ibid., 299.

[222] Ibid., 299.

[223] Ibid., 333.

[224] Dan 6:10. The decree— “…that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.” Dan 6:7.

[225] Wayne D. Dosick, Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition, and Practice (San Francisco: Harper, 1995). Peace (shalom) and completeness (shaleim) are included in the definition of Jerusalem. Regarding the Western Wall or Wailing Place, “He [the Jew] has a prescriptive right of nineteen centuries’ duration in it, and what man can show a better claim than that to anything on earth?” Reverend W M Christie, ‘The Wailing Wall at Jerusalem’, The Expository Times 1931, 180.

[226] 1 Kings 6:47-49.

[227] Jewish scholars, 200–500 CE.

[228] Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John, A Commentary, Volume One (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003), 409. Commenting on John 1:14. Aboriginal Songlines have this significant aspect: “they relate individual people to specific places. Sacred knowledge is specific and localised.” Mike Smith, ‘The metaphysics of songlines’, in Songlines, Tracking the Seven Sisters, ed. Margo Neale (Canberra: National Museum of Australia Press, 2017), 219.

[229] The two sides of the Hawkesbury–Nepean River. Dyarubbin, home for the Darug people. 

[230] George Bunyan, a collector from the 1930s, hand-drew a map of Emu Plains, noting where the Aboriginal camps were. One of the camps was not far from our current address—between the railway line and Old Bathurst Road. “The camp on Lapstone Creek, downstream from the famous rock shelter, was bulldozed for a housing development in 1977.” Our house was built in the early 1980s. Grace Karskens, People of the River, Lost Worlds of Early Australia (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2020), 52.

[231] Karskens, People of the River, 302. Complex—because the Israelites had disposed the original inhabitants.

[232] White Australians are captive. “It seems to me, that being a non-Aboriginal Australian means being somehow cut off from where we belong. We no longer belong in the place from which our ancestors came to this land, but we do not quiet belong here either because of the events of the last two hundred years have created a gap between us and the people of the land who lived so intimately with it and still holds its secrets. Partly this gap comes from the rivers of blood and tears which have flowed from between us, and partly, too, it comes from our loss of the sense of the sacred which is of the essence of Aboriginal cultures and of their relations with the land.” Veronica Brady. Peter Read, Belonging, Australians, Place and Aboriginal Ownership (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 17.

[233] Walter Wink, Naming the Powers (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1984), 110–111.

[234] John Rhodes, Cage of Ghosts (Hong Kong: Darkwood, 2018), 18.

[235] Ibid., 42.

[236] Ibid., 42. There is no record of the Eora in the act of engraving.

[237] These engravings were surveyed by W. D. Campbell, in 1893.

[238] Western Australia and Tasmania. Rhodes, Cage of Ghosts, 19.

[239] Ibid., 19.

[240] “…a puzzling and an inexplicable omission considering how keenly the French observed and recorded the customs of Aboriginal life elsewhere on the continent.” Ibid., 20–21.

[241] Ibid., 23.

[242] Ibid., 24.

[243] The height of the figures of two engraved ancestral Creator Beings, the Mt. Ku-ring-gai “Culture Hero” and Daramulan near the America Track at West Head, are 3.4 metres (11 feet) and 5.1 metres (16 feet 6 inches) respectively. Ibid., 37

[244] Ibid., 25.

[245] Megan Davis & George Williams, Everything You Need To Know About The Uluru Statement From The Heart (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2021), 15.

[246] Listen:

[247]—with the same distance between each entry (3 bars and a dotted quaver).

[248] Tim Ingold, ‘Landscape or Weather-World, Being Alive’, Essay on Movement, Knowledge and Description (London: Routledge, 2011), 138.

[249] Ibid., 138.

[250] Ibid., 139.

[251] Ibid., 139. Perhaps like the storm that was mentioned.

[252] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 332.

[253] Ibid., 26.

[254] Ibid. 26.

[255] Ibid., 26. George French Angas, Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand (Sydney: A. H. & A. W. Reed, Volume 2, 1968, 186–204.

[256] Ibid., 26.

[257] Ibid., 26.

[258] Ibid., 28.

[259] A contemporary example—the destruction of Juukan Gorge in 2020—“The PKKP Aboriginal Corporation, representing the traditional owners of Juukan gorge, said their sorrow and loss are still beyond measure.”, accessed 19, 10, 2021.

[260] Ibid., 30. Queen Gooseberry explained that ‘tribes did not reside’ here, for these places ‘were all sacred to the priest, doctor or conjurer…a man potent in spells…the Ko-ra-jee.’ Ibid. 30.

[261] Ibid., 30.

[262] Ibid., 30.

[263] Ibid., 31.

[264] Each weekend he left his home in Paddington, caught the tram for Circular Quay, caught a ferry to Manly, there he hired a spring cart, and journeyed up Pittwater Road, then climbed in his cart along an old bush track until he saw an expanse of sandstone, there he set up camp (an all-day journey). The next day he precisely surveyed the site.

[265] Ibid., 47.

[266] Ibid., 47–48.

[267] A compilation of the 250 engraved sites he surveyed.

[268] Ibid., 50

[269] Ibid., 44. W. D. Campbell, Aboriginal Carvings of Port Jackson and Broken Bay, Memoirs of the Geological Survey of New South Wales, Ethnological Series, No. 1, Department of Mines and Agriculture, Sydney, 1899, Plate 6, Figures 1-5, pp. 19–20.

[270] The five rock engraving sites documented by Etheridge and published in the Records of Geological Survey of New South Wales are: …The Aboriginal Rock Carvings at the head of Bantry Bay, Middle Harbour, Port Jackson, pp. 26-35 and Idiographic Rock Carvings of the Aborigines at Flat Rocks, near Manly, Volume II, 1890-92, pp. 177–179. Rhodes, Cage of Ghosts, 83, footnote 26.

[271] Ibid., 77.

[272] Listen:

[273] See Harmonic analysis (attached).

[274] Mark W. Elliott, Providence, A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Account (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020), 6.

[275] Ibid., 21.

[276] David M. Gunn, ‘The Story of King David: Genre and Interpretation’, JSOTSup 6 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1978), 109, 110. In Mark Elliot’s book on Providence, he explains that “Saul experiences the dark side, David the light side, of God’s providence.” Elliott, Providence, 132.

[277] “…unconscious mislearning of a song, such as incorporating a misheard word into a song, leads to a transformation in tradition.” (Geza Roheim [1945:3). “…you have the right to get it wrong.” (Green 2001:40). Georgia Curran, ‘Contemporary Ritual Practice in an Aboriginal Settlement: The Warlpiri Kurdiji Ceremony’, Thesis, 2010, 25.

[278] Ibid., 26.

[279] Ken Hale, ‘Notes on World View and semantic Categories: some Warlpiri Examples’ in Features and Projections, ed. P Muysken, H van Riemsdijk (Dordrecht: Floris, 1986), 235.

[280] Ibid., 235–36.

[281] Curran, ‘Contemporary Ritual Practice in an Aboriginal Settlement’, 25–26.

[282] Ken Hale, ‘Remarks on creativity in Aboriginal verse’ in Problems and Solutions: Occasional Essays in Musicology presented to Alice M. Moyle, ed. J C Kassler, J Stubington (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1984), 260.

[283] See harmonic analysis.

[284] “…in which the author defines Bach’s musical conscience as being double, harmonic and counterpoint–based, which seeks to synthesize a harmony based fundamentally on the general bass with the polyphony of single autonomous voices.” T.W. Adorno, ‘Bach gegen seine Liebhaber verteidigt’, in: Id., Gesammelte Schriften, ed. by R. Tiedemann, G. Adorno and S. Buck–Morss, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp, 1973-2001, vol. X.I, p. 141; English translation: Id., ‘Bach defended against his devotees’, in: Id., Prisms, Boston, MIT Press, 1997, 138. Markus Ophalders, ‘The Weltgeist Plays it. Notes on Hegel’s Dialectical Thinking and Beethoven’s Compositional Style’, in Die Klage des Ideellen (Il lamento dell’ideale). Beethoven e la filosofia hegeliana, Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2018, 59.

[285] “The association of wangga [song ceremonies] with liminal states of being—dream states, and the states of being in the twilight zone between life and death, or between childhood and adulthood—is enacted in ceremony and reflected in its poetics.” Alan Marett, Songs, Dreamings, and Ghosts, The Wangga of North Australia (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Community Press, 2005), 5. Referring in this case, to the Daly region of Western Australia.

[286] Francoise Dussart. The Politics of Ritual in an Aboriginal Settlement: Kinship, Gender and Currency of Knowledge (Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000), 147.

[287] John Carroll, ‘Castle Circuit’ concluding poem, from Book of Hours, 2012.

We laid to rest my father’s ashes in Jan 2023, overlooking Middle Harbour.

[288] In terms of the emancipated convicts—“But in learning to live on the river, it was the settlers’ way of life that became more like those of the people they were dispossessing.” Grace Karskens, People of the River, Lost Worlds of Early Australia (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2020), 107. See the farming practices of the local Aboriginal people: “Archaeologist Lesley Head and her colleagues describe Aboriginal women as yam and fruit gardeners, rather than foragers, adeptly messing with traditional western binaries of ‘garden’ and ‘wilderness’, ‘domestic’ and ‘wild’.” Ibid., 48.

[289] Ibid., 74.

[290] until the 1960s.

[291] Ibid., 76.

[292] The use of common lands by all free men, a customary practice for centuries, was enshrined in the Magna Carta as well as by the Charter of the Forest … which reiterated the right of all free men to use and access the forest so long as it did not harm their neighbours. Reece Jones, Violent Borders, Refugees and the Right to Move (London: Verso, 2016), 95–96. “…forest is used to refer to any lands that were not developed, whether actual forests, wilds, grasslands and moors, or riverbanks that were used to pasture sheep,” Ibid., 95. Over the centuries, these documents were reaffirmed by successive kings. They were not completely replaced until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when Parliament formalized the legal regime of the modern state. Ibid., 96.

[293] Karskens, People of the River, 76.

[294] Ibid., 76.

[295] Ibid., 76.

[296] Ibid., 77.

[297] Ibid., 77.

[298] Ibid., 77–78.

[299] Ibid., 78.

[300] Ibid., 79.

[301] Ibid., 90. “This longed-for place abounded in food and sleep, so people were free of all hard work and could eat, drink and sleep to their hearts’ content.” Ibid., 90.

[302] Ibid., 90.

[303] The soil in the new farms of these river systems was so rich that they called it the ‘Nile of the colony’—soil so rich that anything could grow, with little need of labour.

[304] Ibid., 98. “By 1828, 83 per cent of the farmers with less than 100 acres (40 hectares) in the Penrith– Castlereagh area were still ex-convicts—and their sons and daughters made up most of the rest.” Ibid., 102.

[305] Ibid., 203.

[306] Ibid., 203.

[307] “…once the surveyors and mapmakers codified the rural agricultural land of England, it became less a vast space people knew through local experience and more a disciplined commodity, captured on paper and administered from a distance.” Reece Jones, Violent Borders, Refugees and the Right to Move (London: Verso, 2016), 97. “It was no longer necessary to have local knowledge; land was legible to anyone who could see the map—an elite group that was often limited to the monarchy, the lords, and other agents” Ibid., 97-98.

[308] Ibid., 219. There was often a similarity between the convict settlers’ foraging and hunting and that of the aboriginal people—“though the blundering white settlers had a lot to learn.” Cross-cultural hunting was common during the nineteenth century. Ibid., 204, 210.

[309] Ibid., 217.

[310] Ibid., 255.

[311] Ibid., 256. Look up cross reference.

[312] Ibid., 256. “The absence of fences…bothered elite observers, because fences and hedges were the great emblems of enclosure, private property rights and agricultural modernisation. But among ordinary rural people, it was just the opposite; fences, hedges and walls were wrongful incursions upon their rights to access, use and travel across common lands. For them, land was something that people had the right to use, rather than the right to own exclusively. Fences interrupted existing paths and tracks, and prevented people and animals from going where they wanted or needed to go, funnelling them unto public roads…Boundaries were marked and observed, but they were porous: people passed through them at will. ” Ibid., 221–222.

[313] Marcus Clarke, For the Term of His Natural Life (Melbourne, Angus and Robertson, 1973), 276.

[314] Cavan Brown, Pilgrim Through This Barren Land (Sutherland: Albatross books, 1991), 86. Isaiah 53:3.

[315] Karskens, People of the River, 285.

[316] Ibid., 285.

[317] Ibid., 292. On the Hawkesbury-Nepean these manifestations of the convict colony were too deeply rooted to be easily erased; it survived in the world view of their descendants.

[318] Ibid., 302. Today “scholars argue that contemporary enclosure extends beyond simply land, and includes the privatization of public wealth, what geographer David Harvey calls ‘accumulation by dispossession.’” Jones, Violent Borders, 97.

[319] Karskens, People of the River, 302.

[320] Ibid., 85. “Unlike the songlines of Dreaming tracks created by the Ancestors, the Canning Stock Route not only sits atop the land but is also scraped out of the land, cutting across the songlines like a scar: loud, visible and alien.” Margo Neale, ‘White man got no Dreaming’, in Songlines, Tracking the Seven Sisters, ed. Margo Neale (Canberra: National Museum of Australia Press, 2017), 202.

[321] Ibid., 81.

[322] Ibid., 81. …the straight line of modernity, driven by a grand narrative of progressive advance, is utopian; the fragmented line of postmodernity is dystopian. ‘Perhaps it is true’, Olwig writes, ‘we moved beyond modernism’s utopianism and postmodernism’s dystopianism to a topianism that recognizes that human beings, as creatures of history, consciously and unconsciously create places.’ Lines,Tim Ingold, 17.

[323] Kenneth R. Olwig (2013) ‘Heidegger, Latour and the reification of things: the inversion and spatial enclosure of the substantive landscape of things—the lake district case’, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 95:3, 257–158 [Olwig 2000, 31–34].

[324] Ibid., 257–258.

[325] Ibid., 257–278.

[326] Ingold, Lines, 17. “W. J. T. Mitchell and others have drawn attention strenuously to the ideological nature of landscape—the way in which it is intimately bound up with discourses of privilege, containment, and exclusion. Yet an alternative model is offered by a different etymology of the term: cultural geographer Kenneth Olwig shifts attention from the English scopic regime towards an older Scandinavian/northern European notion of landskab (“skabe” is the Danish verb “to work or create”). Landskab refers to ground that is cultivated, shaped, furrowed, or grooved (like the surface of a gramophone record). “Field” here is understood not as a “field of vision” but a zone of activity, shaped and encoded through practices of occupation—it is more properly a phenomenological category (encompassing Martin Heidegger’s mythic mode of being-in-the-world and Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of “habitus”) and a space of legal or political dominion.” Daniel M. Grimley, ‘Music, Landscape, Attunement: Listening to Sibelius’s Tapiola’, Journal of the American Musicolgical Society Vol. 64, No. 2 (Summer 2011), 395.

[327] Tim Ingold, ‘Against space: place, movement, knowledge’, in Kirby, P. W. (ed.): Boundless Worlds: An Anthropological Approach to Movement, Berghahn, Oxford, 29.

[328] I do not do what Charles Rosen identified as a hallmark of classical form—a “sense of movement, the development, and the dramatic course of a work all can be found latent in the material [and] that this material can be made to release its charged force so that the music…is literally inspired from within…” Korstvedt, ‘Between formlessness and formality’, 185.

[329] Karskens, People of the River, 90.

[330] Ibid., 204.

[331] Olwig, ‘Heidegger, Latour and the reification of things’, 251. “…the uncatalogued, unsorted, unpatterned thisness of our reality as itself blessed and a blessing in God’s hand.” Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 293. “The dignity, the autonomy and objectivity of the concrete, its reality beyond meaning, is a savage fact and blessing of creation, of the Creator; it abides.” Ibid., 291.

[332], accessed 21 August, 2021.

[333] Gloria Ardler. Jim Smith, The Aboriginal People of the Burragorang Valley, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, “If we left our Valley our hearts would break” (Lawson: Blue Mountains Education and Research Trust, 2018), 328.

[334] Ibid., 328.

[335] Ibid., 328–329. “On the circumstance of a strong wind, a windbreak can be quickly constructed of mulga limbs.” Ibid., 328.

[336] Ibid., 329.

[337] Ibid., 329.

[338] Ibid., 334.

[339] Ibid., 333. “Gundungarra people lost many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of their cultural sites as a result of the building of Warragamba Dam.” Ibid., 334.

[340] Ibid., 334.

[341] Joerstad, The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics, 154.

[342] Ibid., 155.

[343] Ibid., 155.

[344] Ibid., 155.

[345] Ibid., 155. They are concerned with relationships, rather than dividing the world “into categories.” A Ojibwa man was asked, “Are all these stones that we see about us alive?” He answered, “No, but some are.” They recognize the potential for animation under certain circumstances. “The term ‘alive’ is not a category, but a concept, and it names ways of life rather than provides a label.” Moreover, relationships are not between freestanding individuals, for “personhood is not given, but is made:” “Persons are constituted by their relationships, relationships with kin, with land, with specific bodies; take those relationships away, the person ‘fades away.’” Ibid., 28, 29, see also: Hallawell, “Ojibwa Ontology, Behaviour, and World View,” 24.

[346] Ibid., 30. Descola, Beyond Nature and Culture, xv, 7.

[347] The Chewong, from Pahang Province, Malaysia, have a dualism; their dualism concerns “what is near and far off.” Those they relate to on a daily basis—plants, animals and people— “mingle together in an intimate and egalitarian community that, as a whole, stands in opposition to the threatening and incomprehensible world outside.” Their ontology prioritises the sameness of differing bodies.  “The study of personalistic nature texts need not be mired in concerns about how things without brains and nervous systems can act. Animist traditions provide a coherent understanding of causation and action without recourse to the Cartesian split.” Joerstad, The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics, 31–33.

[348] Tim Ingold, Being Alive, Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (Milton Park: Routledge, 2011), 71.

[349] Joerstad, The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics, 37.

[350] Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843), a major German poet, friend of Hegel and Schelling, studied theology at Tübingen, sought to blend theology and classical studies. “[A] critic, L. S. Salzberger, argued that Hölderlin’s was ‘the typical Renaissance view of the poeta theologus or sacer vates’.” Friedrich Hölderlin, Poems and Fragments, trans. Michael Hamburger (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 2004), 24.

[351] Friedrich Hölderlin, Selected Poetry, trans. David Constance (Hexham: Bloodaxe Books, 2018), 82.

[352] Camilla Flodin, ‘“The eloquence of something that has no language”: Adorno on Hölderlin’s Late Poetry’, Adorno Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1, September 2018, 6. “Through Hölderlin’s poem we become aware of nature as historical, and according to Adorno, the poem offers a critique of the notion of nature as something static and antithetical to human history. Adorno perceives “The Shelter at Hahrdt” [“Harhdt Knook”] as revealing the dynamic entwinement of nature and history.” Ibid., 5.

[353] Ibid., 9.

[354] Theodor W. Adorno, ‘Parataxis: On Hölderlin’s Late Poetry’, In Notes to Literature, vol. 2, translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen,edited by Rolf Tiedemann, 109–49. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), 111.

[355] Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann, ed., trans. by Robert Hullot-Kentor. (London and New York: Continuum, 2002), 71.

[356] Camilla Flodin, ‘Hölderlin’s Higher Enlightenment’, in Karl Axelsson, Camilla Flodin & Mattias Pirholt eds., Beyond Autonomy in Eighteenth-Century British and German Aesthetics (Milton Park: Routledge, 2020), 258.

[357] Ibid., 258.

[358] Ibid., 259.

[359] Ibid., 260.

[360] Ibid., 260.

[361] Ibid., 264.

[362] Ibid., 265.

[363] Ibid., 265. Mozart had a similar conception of fleetingness of beauty— “…in mature Mozart the greatest beauties exist in brief compass, concentrated in fleeting, self-contained passages whose overwhelming effect is magnified by their unexpected emergence from and subsidence into a less rapturous context; we await their re-emergence with the impatience of a lover seeking a glimpse of the beloved, wondering if what was felt can really be true.” The ancients thought of beauty as “lucid, rational, precise, perfected, and therefore free of those base qualities, such as an ‘admixture of pain.’” The classical scholar Johann Winkelmann (1717–1768), shared these ancient ideals—beauty is “repose, simplicity, and the absence of pain and disorder.” Mozart’s beauty, however, comes with a tinge of sadness—it is “the image of transience, the symbol of loss as well as desire.” The music scholar, Solomon likens the beauty found in musical repetition to an endless game of ‘Fort’ (‘Gone’) and ‘Da’ (‘Here’)— “…music embodies what Ricoeur calls a ‘nonpathological aspect of the death instinct’, consisting in the mastery ‘over the negative, over absence and loss, implied in one’s recourse to symbols and play.’” “Confronting the tendency of things to go out of existence, Mozart opts for a position like that of Spinoza, who wrote: ‘Everything, so far as it can, endeavours to preserve in its being.’ “Beauty heals, comforts, transforms, preserves, remembers, promises, buries the dead and raises them once again, reminds us not only of what we have lost but of what may be ours once again, even if only as a symbol.” Maynard Solomon, Mozart: A Life (London: Pimlico, 1996), 373, 365, 378.

[364] Flodin, ‘Hölderlin’s Higher Enlightenment’, 265. “Poetry, and art more generally, is understood as having a vital role in human affairs because it allows being, the feeling of totality, to be revealed. … it actually produces, as opposed to reproducing, the feeling of totality, the absolute, in the world, and so makes our dividing and damaged experience (momentarily) complete. A poem, Hölderlin says, is a ‘metaphor’, it literally ‘carries’ something ‘across’ (according to the Greek sense of meta-pherein) into a sensible form, it is the translation of something.” Friedrich Holderlin, Essays and Letters, xxxvii.

[365] Ibid., 267.

[366] Ibid., 269.

[367] Ibid., 260.

[368] Ibid., Introduction, 11.

[369] Ibid., Introduction, 6.

[370] Ibid., 17.

[371] Ibid., 8.

[372] Ibid., 8. Stefan Büttner’s words.

[373] Elizabeth B. Sikes, ‘Dionysian Dankbarkeit, Friedrich Hölderlin’s Poetics of Sacrifice’, in Phenomenology of Eros, Jonna Bornemark & Maricia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, ed. (Södertörn Philosophical Studies 10, 2012), 41–42.

[374] Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, 71.

[375] Letter from Mel Catt to Jim Smith, 4 November 2007, in Smith, The Aboriginal People of the Burragorang Valley, 15. Referring perhaps to The Garden of Eden, or to the New Creation (Rev 22:1–2).

[376] Hölderlin, Selected Poetry, 82. “In the late 1960s, the Lithuanian-born Australian wilderness photographer Olegas Truchanas toured village halls and town theaters in Tasmania, campaigning against government proposals to flood Lake Pedder, an environmentally unique inland freshwater lake bounded by a striking white quartzite beach in the southwest highlands, as part of the Gordon River Hydroelectric scheme. The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful; construction of the dam was completed in 1972, when the lake was permanently flooded. The same year, Truchanas was killed in a canoeing accident (a drama recast in Richard Flanagan’s 1997 novel Death of a River Guide). But the campaign symbolically marked the birth of the environmental movement in Australia, and the strength of political opposition led to the creation of the Truchanas Huron Pine Reserve, which protects a small stand of ancient trees previously threatened by logging. Among Truchanas’s activities to raise awareness among Tasmanian residents and politicians were slide shows of his photographs of Lake Pedder, accompanied with music by Sibelius and Delius. The choice of repertoire—principally, the finale of Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony—is significant because of Truchanas’s own Baltic/northern-European roots and the common association of Sibelius’s music with ideas of landscape. Truchanas’s slide shows offer a provocative series of readings in music and landscape: the ways in which a particular idea of landscape (the Northern European boreal forest) was exported (or, more figuratively, transplanted) to an Australian context; the ideological function of landscape and metaphors of wilderness; the role of landscape in Sibelius reception; and the significance of music and landscape in environmental activism—a process in which music frequently plays a central role.” Daniel M. Grimley, ‘Music, Landscape, Attunement: Listening to Sibelius’s Tapiola’, 395–396.

[377] Listen:

[378] The notes to Donald MacDonald’s unpublished second volume. I used his scoring of the piece.

[379] James Logan, The Scottish Gael, 2 vols, 1831,, accessed 21/10/2021.

[380] Lionel Kill. Smith, The Aboriginal People of the Burragorang Valley, 334.

[381] Flodin, ‘Hölderlin’s Higher Enlightenment’, 269.

[382] The Lament for Donald Bàn MacCrimmon (1). []

[383] I visited Warragamba with my parents to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dam’s opening. On that day, we were given a copy of the original opening document. On the last page, it gave two acknowledgements: to the workers who had constructed a dam that would service Sydney’s water supply, and giving glory to God, who had originated the work. Ps 126:4–6.

[384] Quoting Peter Sculthorpe. Richard Mills, ‘Peter Sculthorpe took Australia’s ‘spirit of place’ and made it sing’,, accessed 29 September, 2021. Italics added.

[385] “Australia has rightly been named the ‘Land of the Dawning.” Marcus Clarke, Introduction, Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes, cxxi-cxxiii (quoted in Brown 1991, 77). “The Lord has breathed into all people some understanding of His majesty.” Calvin believed that humanity could know God, and know him majestically. Often he concludes a sermon: “Now we shall bow in humble reverence before the face of our God.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), 25. John Calvin, Sermons from Job, trans. Leroy Nixon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker House Books, 1980), 45. In his String Quartet 18, Postlude, Sculthorpe mentioned that he used a low C as his signature for God, the God of all faiths.

[386] See John Carroll, They Westwards Fly, a series of poems about Anzac Day and Australian Indigenous history, written in response to reading Forgotten War by Henry Reynolds: Also, John Carroll, Tongerlongeter, a series of poems about the Tasmanian war hero:

[387] Brown, Pilgrim Through This Barren Land, 79.

[388] Christina Stead, For Love Alone. I set this passage in the introduction of my work, The Sweet Sorrow—see page 70.

[389] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 3.

[390] Ibid., 3.

[391] Ibid., 4. Nolan to John Reed, 10 July 1947, 134; Nolan to Albert Tucker, 24 March 1953, 166.

[392] Ibid., 5. Quoting Ernest Giles.

[393] Ibid., 7.

[394] Ibid., 12.

[395] Ibid., 12. “…the abundance of the centre: water in tree hollows and roots, wild passionfruit and oranges, native figs, bush tomatoes, bananas, coconuts and plums, and the sweet nectar of the honey grevillea.” Ibid., 12.

[396] Bill Harney, Uluru National Park’s first ranger.

[397] Ibid., 134.

[398] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 16.

[399] Ibid., 15. “The explorers, being the first Europeans to encounter the desert… They demonstrated that the desert was more than physical.” Cavan Brown, Pilgrim Through This Barren Land (Sutherland: Albatross books, 1991), 61.

[400] Listen:

[401] Tiger Webb, Peter Sculthorpe discusses life, death and spirituality,, accessed 21/10/2021.

[402] David Matthews, ‘Peter Sculthorpe at 60’, Tempo, Sep., 1989, New Series, No. 170, 50th Anniversary 1939–1989, 14.

[403] Peter Sculthorpe, Mangrove for orchestra (London: Faber Music Limited, 1982), Composer’s Note.

[404] Number in the score, page 5.

[405] Michael Hannan, Peter Sculthorpe: his music and ideas (St Lucia: University of Queensland, 1982), 195.

[406] In fuori di passo style.

[407] Matthews, ‘Peter Sculthorpe at 60’, 14.

[408] Naomi Cumming, ‘Encountering Mangrove: An Essay in Signification’, The American Journal of SEMIOTICS, Vol. 13, Nos. 1–4 (Fall 1996 [1998]), 74.

[409] Ibid., 73.

[410] Wood blocks.

[411] “Colotonic structures”—see page 65.

[412] Ibid., 68. “…the 1979 work Mangrove, which responded to the Northern Territory and simulated its bird song.” Plant, Love and Lament, 344.

[413] Matthews notes that Sculthorpe’s use of bird cries has “become one of his most distinctive stylistic fingerprints.” Matthews, ‘Peter Sculthorpe at 60’, 14. Cumming, ‘Encountering Mangrove’, 69.

[414] Two leaps of a fifth and one of a seventh are exceptions. Ibid., 79.

[415] The dimensions of the ‘man-woman’ concept are explored by the Russian theologian, Solov’ev. His treatise, The Meaning of Love, “takes the central significance that love, eros, has for Plato, the inspiration behind the philosopher’s search for ultimate truth and beauty.” Solov’ev seeks to rethink Plato’s idea in terms of eros between a man and a woman. He places love between a man and a woman at the heart of his consideration of love—in contrast to Plato, who sees eros as essentially the ascent of the soul to embrace absolute beauty. The meaning of love is the creation of human individuality by overcoming egotism—‘the sacrifice of egotism’—and this involves an ‘other’. For Solov’ev this other, is encountered in the opposite sex. It is sexual love that enables an encounter with the other, thus displaces the centre of the self. The ‘archetypical cleft of sex’ is part of what it is to be human. Andrew Louth, Modern Orthodox Thinkers, From the Philokalia to the present (London: SPCK, 2015), 25, 21. Refer, however, to these comments from Michaela Nicole regarding nonbinary theory, which widen the perspective:

[416] “Sculthorpe’s music is marked by the use of strong contrasts or dualities, his reiterative ‘fast’ music representing ritual and (in this case) the environment, while two forms of ‘slow’ music represent an expressionist excess of emotion, and its opposite, an ascetic restraint.” Cumming, ‘Encountering Mangrove’, 69.

[417] Matthews, ‘Peter Sculthorpe at 60’, 14.

[418] Cumming, ‘Encountering Mangrove’, 85.

[419] Ibid., 86. Cunnings later makes this point: “It is through an assimilation of non-Western styles (whether indigenous or ‘high’ art) that Sculthorpe is able to promote an encounter of the individual with nature to form a work with recognizably Australian identity.” Ibid., 97.

[420] Ibid., 95.

[421] Ibid., 92.

[422] Josopovici, 16 Dec. 1971, in Hanan Peter Sculthorpe, 120. Sculthorpe made this comment about the nature of the Australian landscape—“The landscape suggests melody, even the entwining of several melodic lines. It doesn’t suggest density of vertical thinking, as in harmony. It also suggests that if harmony is used it is left simple, non-dramatic and, very important, that is has a slow rate of change. And there’s the geology of the country. Supporting our landscape are enormous geological structures, suggesting to me the use of colotonic structures.” Peter Sculthorpe—7 July 1990, Sapporo. Barnes, Peter Sculthorpe, An Australian Composer’s Influence, 1.

[423] Listen:

[424] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 3.

[425] Ibid., 3.

[426] The Battle of Sheriffmuir—the way each section goes on to the next, exactly.

[427] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 4. Nolan quotes see 223.

[428] Pdf of melody:

[429] Frans Buisman (1995) ‘Melodic relationships in pibroch, British Journal of Ethnomusicology’, 4:1, 17.

[430] John Carroll, ‘Uluru’ opening poem, from Book of Hours, 2012.

[431] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 4. Nolan to Albert Tucker, 24 March 1953, 166.

[432] “If, following white settlement, imported Celtic music could have been combined with Aboriginal chant, today our music would possess a powerful voice.” Peter Sculthorpe, Sun Music, Journeys and reflections from a composer’s life (Sydney: ABC Books, 1999), 200. “The native Gael who is instructed in this poetry carries in his imagination not so much a landscape, not a sense of geography alone, nor of history alone, but a formal order of experience in which these are all merged. The native sensibility responds not to a landscape but to dùthchas. And just as ‘landscape’, with its romantic aura, cannot be translated directly in Gaelic, so ‘dùthchas’ and, indeed dùthaich’ cannot be translated into English without robbing the terms of their emotional energy. The complexity involved can be appreciated by reflecting on the range of meaning: dùthchas is ancestral or family land; it is also family tradition; and, equally important it is the hereditary qualities of an individual.” MacInnes, ‘The panegyric code in Gaelic poetry’ in Dùthchas Nan Gàidheal, 17, in Ruth Lee Martin, ‘Paradise Imagined: Songs of Scots Gaelic migrants in Australia, 1850–1940’, Humanities Research, One Common Thread: The Musical World of Lament, Vol XIX, No.2, 2013, 43.

[433] Cumming, ‘Encountering Mangrove: An Essay in Signification’, 73.

[434] Ibid., 4.

[435] Ibid., 12. “…the abundance of the centre: water in tree hollows and roots, wild passionfruit and oranges, native figs, bush tomatoes, bananas, coconuts and plums, and the sweet nectar of the honey grevillea.” Ibid., 12.

[436] Page & Memmott, Design, Building on Country, 16.

[437] Ibid., 151. Dr Daniele Hromek’s definition.

[438] Ibid., 16.

[439] Ibid., 51.

[440] Ibid., 51.

[441] Mornington Island, Gulf of Carpentaria.

[442] “The older adults knew all of the place names throughout Lardil lands as well as important properties associated with each.” “Thuwathu, the Rainbow Serpent, added power to story places, which enabled ‘increase rituals’ (actions that were believed to cause a reproduction of totemic animal. Plant or meteorological phenomenon associated with a place) to be performed at them.” Ibid., 127–128.

[443] Ibid., 129.

[444] Ibid., 130.

[445] Ibid., 130.

[446] Ibid., 132.

“today I found the tree under

which my mother was born

her placenta was buried here

as her ashes are now” Ali Cobby Eckermann, Inside my Mother (Artarmon, Giramondo Press, 2015), 88.

[447] Maddison, The Colonial Fantasy, xxviii.

[448] Malpas, Heidegger’s Topology, 306.

[449] “…[a] simple wakefulness in the proximity of any random unobtrusive being.” Ibid., 149.

[450] Ibid., 311.

[451] Ibid., 311. “… a world that shines in the truth and beauty of a gathered place.” Ibid., 311.

[452] Ibid., 119.

[453] Ibid., 120.

[454] Ibid., 122. “The more familiar to them everything knowable becomes, the more foreign it is to them—without there being able to know it.”

[455] He was born in this town.

[456] Ibid., 314.

[457] Ibid., 314.

[458] Ibid., 315.

[459] Geoffrey W. Grogan, Psalms, THOTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 213.

[460] Its repetitions are liturgical and antiphonal, probably sung by the congregation.

[461] “The Psalm has no human heroes.” J F J van Rensburg, ‘History as Poetry: A Study of Psalm 136’, Old Testament Society of South Africa, 1986, 88.

[462] Grogan, Psalms, 213.

[463] The explorer, Ernest Giles, contemplated this temple—the desert of Australia, whose “dome is vast immensity.” Ernest Giles, Australia Twice Traversed, Vol II, (Sampson Low, 1889), 227–228.

[464] Reflecting Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8—“by his understanding” (v. 5).

[465] “The smiting of Sihon and Og … seems to viewed as a continuation of the victory over Egypt, except the means were different.” Ibid., 283.

[466] This is the first time “us” is referred to; “this is probably about the return from exile, showing the thankful spirit of postexilic worshippers.” Ibid., 214.

[467] The universal is used in this verse, rather than the particular—“not only all humans but all living creatures are viewed as benefiting from God’s covenant love.” Ibid., 214.

[468] Allan Harman, Psalms, A Mentor Commentary (Fearn, Ross-shire: Mentor, 1998), 426.

[469] Deverell, Gondwana Theology, 15. Referring to “Dreaming”.

[470] Myers, The Apostles’ Creed, 134.

[471] Augustine, Exposition of Psalm 39:28, trans. Maria Boulding. The works of Augustine: A Translation for thee 21st Century III/15–20, 6 vols (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000–2004.

[472] Listen:

[473] For this is what the high and exalted One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite” Isa 57:15.

[474] The exposition, development and recapitulation chart the course of the ceremony, the introduction and coda are about the landscape—its eternity and its life.

[475] “in its small-, medium-, and large-scale dimensions, at many different levels, and (potentially) engaging every parameter (including melody, dynamics, texture, meter, and timbre), music consists of movements from rest to instability, followed at some stage to a return to rest.” Jeremy S. Begbie, A Peculiar Orthodoxy, Reflections on Theology and The Arts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2018), 69.

[476] Benjamin M. Korstvedt, ‘Between formlessness and formality: aspects of Bruckner’s approach to symphonic form’, in The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner, ed. John Williamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 189.

[477] Begbie, A Peculiar Orthodoxy, 71.

[478] Tolbert, ‘Voice, Metaphysics and Community’, 148.

[479] Stead, For Love Alone. For full passage—see earlier, page 60.

[480] “The Scottish Gaelic ballad ‘Am Bron Binn’ (The Sweet, or Melodious, Sorrow) represents a remarkable survival to the present day of an Arthurian work which has circulated in oral tradition in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland for well over 200 years.”

[481] This was the Irish Harpist, Carolan’s last composition, completed in 1738, just before his death.

[482] Augmented sixth—leading to the next section.

[483] The music scholar, Benjamin Korstvedt, a specialist in the Austrian composer, has noted that “the sheer autonomy of Bruckner’s themes overrides ‘classic-romantic’ symphonic continuities, creating formal processes that privilege thematic self-sufficiency.” Horton, Julian (2018) ‘Form and orbital tonality in the Finale of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony.’, Music analysis, 37 (3), 2-3. My analysis of the seventh symphony (first movement): Bruckner “privileges thematic self-sufficiency” in the development section [at cue I] (bar 185–210). This entire section is made up of a deeply expressive melody, full of pathos, played by the cello (with woodwind phrases in response). The melody unfolds for 35 bars. At cue M (bars 233–248), cue N (bars 249–268) and cue O (bars 281–317) there is a dramatic portrayal of the first subject—at first based on the first four bars, then the first six bars, then the entire melody. It obeys the rules of motivic development—using a small part through differing tonal keys, leading to the return of E major (at bar 281). But something else is going on as well—a “thematic self-sufficiency”—for this one melody is used throughout. In the coda section, something similar happens—at bar 391 (cue W) the tonic is sounded by the double bass and timpani—then sustained as a pedal-point—above it a long melody is played (bar 392–412) for 21 bars—it arises gradually in a two-part counterpoint, moves through suspensions, builds to a climax, then slowly concludes—it is complete within itself—before the final section begins (cue X—bar 413).

[484] See also: John Carroll, Jack, a series of four pieces written for the birth of my first grandchild. It contrasts an ecstatic dance from Ireland, ‘Jack Latin’, with ‘Seaforth’s Farewell’, written in mourning for my father who had recently died (we lived in Seaforth)—death and life.


[485] I use the entire first section of the fugue—115 bars.

[486] J S Bach, Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus 1, bars 21–25, 51–56; Contrapunctus 3, bars 15–19; Contrapunctus 5, bars 12–16, 60–65.

[487] I have attached a pdf of melodies used.

[488] Thematic antagonism is greatly lessened in my conception of sonata form—it no longer has a generative force; like Bruckner my form “makes possible the structural balancing of large sections regardless of their content and apparent function.” Korstvedt, ‘Between formlessness and formality’, 187-188

[489] Louis Cornwell, private email.

[490] E flat, F, G flat, A flat, B flat, D flat.

[491] C flat.

[492] In which differing layers have their own temperatures and properties—the upper layer, the thermocline, and the deep water.

[493] E flat minor, B major, E major [G sharp minor, C Sharp minor], A minor, D minor, B flat major, B flat minor, E flat minor, F major, B flat major, E flat major. Or more briefly—E flat minor, B Major, E major, F major, B flat major, E flat major.

[494] “They saw the world itself as one more in an endless series of plains.” Gerald Murname, The Plains (Melbourne: Text Publishing Melbourne, 2012), 12. “Sculthorpe also commented that a musical score often ‘sounds just as it looks’, and thought that much of his own music looked ‘horizontal: its elongated, overlapping shapes almost give the appearance of the geological map.” B.W. Higman, Flatness (London: Breaktion Books, 2017), 202.

[495] John Butt, Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity: Perspectives on the Passions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 91.

[496] Cumming, ‘Encountering Mangrove’, 65.

[497] The contemporary German philosopher, Peter Sloterdijk, describes the new conceptions that have arisen during the last five hundred years concerning the oceans. He explains that the sea-exploration brought the Ptolemaic belief in the “predominance of landmasses, to a sensational end.” Magellan’s logbook, for example, reports “that after sailing from the south-western coast of America, they had sailed ‘for three months and twenty days’—from 28 November 1520 to 16 March 1521, with consistently favourable winds—on a north-westerly course through an immeasurable, unknown sea that they named mare pacifico, ‘for during that time we did not suffer any storm’.” Melville wrote, “Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided.”

In this new world, the task of understanding the world fell not to the metaphysicists but the geographers and seafarers. It was the beginning of a ‘success story’ that extended for half a millennium—new world would be found, new wealth, new nations colonised, new explorations, new utilizations. “The Modern Age is the nondum age—the time of a promising becoming, emancipated as much from the stasis of eternity as from the circling time of myth.”

It was also an age where “travellers will feel cheated of any feeling of intimacy, arrival or home. It is no coincidence that his [referring to Melville’s] colour [white] was reserved by cartographers for terra incognita. Melville called white ‘a colourless all-colour of atheism from which we shrink’, because it reminds us of the Milky Way’s white depth, of the ‘heartless voids and immensities of the universe’; it infuses the observer with the thought of their annihilation in the indifferent outside. For the colonies were the practice sites for the coming extermination that would feature in Europe in the twentieth century.

            Anyone living today, after Magellan and Armstrong, is forced to project even their home town as a point perceived from without.” No longer can human beings think that their home is the centre of the world:  “They no longer dwell exclusively beneath their home-centred sky”—“…they no longer breathe beneath the indigenous skies of their canopy poems, instead, they have learned to carry out the projects in the other place, the outermost and abstract place. Peter Sloterdijk, In the World Interior of Capital: For a Philosophical Theory of Globalization, trans by Wieland Hoban (Cambridge: Polity, 2015), 41, 21, 30, 114, 111, 30, 27, 27–28.

But Kenneth Olwig asks, can the earth be seen as a sea of island worlds, rather than a globe? He describes the portolan charts of the Netherlander seafarers: “Such a map is indeed a map of a place (as topos literally signifies), and not just of a site (the proper object of a non-topographical [the Ptolemaic] maps that concern themselves with a position in cartographic space)” He talks about our tangible experiences of a place—“My hypothesis is that islecentrality is encouraged by the experience of living on an island, where a tangible, bodily border between land and water is experienced both through one’s own bodily movement and though that border’s shifting with the weather and the time.” He mentions The Odyssey and Moby Dick, concluding that living on an island expands your sense of the world. Kenneth R. Olwig, ‘Are Islanders Insular? a Personal View’, Geographical Review, Apr., 2007, Vol. 97, No. 2, Islands (Apr., 2007), 183, 187.

[498] Ray Burnett and Kathryn A. Burnett, ‘Scotland’s Hebrides, Song and Culture, Transmission, and Transformation’, in Godfrey Baldacchino ed. Island Songs, A Global Repertoire (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2011), 89. A version of the words can be found at this site: King of Scotland saw in a dream/The fairest woman under the sun…/Seven weeks and three months/Since we began sailing on the ocean/Without seeing dry land/Where our boat could shelter…/In from the edge of the rough sea/We saw a great castle of white and blue…

[499] “It was in the spring of 1738 that Carolan felt a weakness coming over him and, foreknowing his death, he made a return to the home of his dearest friend and sponsor, Mrs. MacDermott Roe. It was by now an old, old lady who received him at (the ancestral seat of the MacDermott Roes (Alderford). Carolan spoke lovingly to her, telling her he was come home to die. Then, calling for his harp, he played this farewell to music. At the close of the tune, he walked upstairs to the bed, where he died a few days later amid the tears and praises of friends and mourned the country round” (Williamson, 1976)., accessed 21/05/21.

[500] I often sense that the pibroch form—with its drone and its cyclic form—is appropriate for our landscape, and refers to Aboriginal musical culture, particularly the use of the digjeridu. Anne Boyd has commented on this, “The sound of the didjeridu in the minds of most Australians evokes the sacred feeling of our landscape-its vastness, its monotony (note, mono-tone), its brooding grandeur, its static, eternal time-feel. Sacred time is transcendent time…” Anne Boyd, ‘Landscape, Spirit and Music: an Australian Story’, 2002, 52.

[501] Deryck Cook, Anton Bruckner, New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Sculthorpe has reminisced, “‘Don’t you feel cut off from the rest of the world, over there in Australia?’ I usually give a polite answer, not wishing to appear arrogant. For me, however, Australia is the centre of the world.” Gwyneth Barnes, Peter Sculthorpe, An Australian Composer’s Influence, 234.

[502] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 369. Italics added. She studies the Processions of God—His Fall and Rise, His Sacrifice and Return, carrying the sheaves—“…the Holy One moves from His own sanctuary to the altar and to the fragment offering, ascending. Our God is a Consuming Flame, and His Act eternally rushes toward Consummation. It is the Perfect Act. Now, a Perfect Act leaves nothing behind: all the remnants are gathered up, twelve baskets full. The Origin of the Fiery Blaze is not lost or hidden, nor is the Scorching Blaze forgotten, the Heat that turns death into Offering, but All is gathered up in the Cloud of Light, the Sweet Savor of the Spirit, who ascends back up, into Heaven, the Infinite Light. This Heavenly Pattern of Exit and Return, Exitus et Reditus, just is the Processional Life of God.” Ibid., 458.

[503] Unrecorded in Scripture.

[504] “This is what we shall do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath shall not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them” Josh 9:20.

[505] 2 Sam 21:8–9.

Inga Clendinnen has written about the spearing of Governor Phillip on the 7 September 1790 at Manly Cove: “The spearing has become an iconic moment in Australian history.” She concludes that it was a ritual spearing, arranged by Baneelon, with representatives of local tribes gathered to witness, in which Phillip “would face a single spear-throw in penance for his and his people’s many offences.” An unusual type of spear used: “The spear ended in a sleek barbed wooden head which slipped easily through flesh, and once the barbed head had been broken off it could easily be withdrawn with equal ease, leaving a clean wound which would heal…Any warrior shown the weapon would have realised that.” The spearer did not intend to kill him. Phillip quickly recovered from his wound, and “he allowed no retaliation, and harboured no resentment.” Inga Clendinnen, Dancing with Strangers (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2003), 110, 124. Inga Clendinnen, ‘Incident on a Beach’ in Selected Writing, ed. James Boyce (Carlton: La Trobe University Press, 2021), 38–39. W.E. Stanner, ‘White Man got no Dreaming: The History of Indifference Thus Begins’ ABC Radio Boyer Lectures, 1979:184.

[506] “At the psychological level, the current location of the smaller story touchingly suggests that Rizpah’s devoted efforts to preserve the bodies moved David so, that he felt compelled to match them by retrieving the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh-Gilead to rebury them in the family plot in Benjamin, along with the bones of those sons given into Gibeonite hands.” Simeon Chavel, ‘Compositry and Creativity in 2 Samuel 21:1–14’ in Journal of Biblical Literature, Spring, 2003, Vol. 122, No. 1 (Spring, 2003), 50.

[507] Guy Darshan, ‘The Reinterment of Saul and Jonathan’s Bones (II Sam 21,12–14) in Light of Ancient Greek Hero-Cult Stories’, ZAW 2013; 125(4), 642. There is no ancient Near Eastern custom of reburying bones; ancient Greek literature however gives many such examples: The return of bones brings blessings on the city—a precedent, perhaps, to the veneration of the relics of Christian saints. “The Greek ‘relic stories’ follow a fixed pattern: trouble befalling a city—most commonly war, famine, or pestilence—its leaders turn to the oracle and are ordered to bring the bones of one of its ancient heroes. When they bury them within the city’s confines, the affliction passes.” Ibid., 643.

[508] Darshan, ‘The Reinterment of Saul and Jonathan’s Bones’, 643–644. “…at the theological and sacral level, in this combined text, the famine comes as the result of two sins rather than one: the insufficient or improper treatment of Saul and Jonathan’s remains as well as Saul’s sacrilegious decimation of the Gibeonites.” Chavel, ‘Compositry and Creativity in 2 Samuel 21:1–14’, 51.

[509] “…it continues the theme of David’s respect, even love, for Saul and Jonathan, bringing it to a climax in what biblical narrative considers an ultimate act of loyalty, proper care for the dead.” Chavel, ‘Compositry and Creativity in 2 Samuel 21:1–14’, 36.

[510] Darshan, ‘The Reinterment of Saul and Jonathan’s Bones’, 664. “The magical practices intended to stop the famine—impalement and the transferring of the heroes’ bones—are reinterpreted in terms of David and Rizpah’s acts of charity. God only responding to the ‘plea of the land’ in the extant text following the reinterment of Saul and Jonathan’s bones, we are led to believe that the author viewed honouring the dead and burial as more important values than execution and denigrating the dead.” Ibid., 664.

[511] Chavel, ‘Compositry and Creativity in 2 Samuel 21:1–14’, 44.

[512] Gen 25:8, 17; 35:29; 49:29, 33; 1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 14:31; 15:8; 15:24. I strongly sensed this reality when I saw my father after his death.

[513] 230 kilometres northwest of Uluru.

[514] Joseph Donald’s testimony. Testimony in full: McKenna, Return to Uluru, 153–159. He concludes, “I was a winner.”

[515] Arrested on 7 September, 1934. Escape on 8 October, 1932. Reached Uluru (Ayres Rock) on 13 October, 1934.

[516] Paddy Uluru, Yokununna, Joseph Donald (who gave the earlier testimony) and Toby Naninga (also known as Walpaku Ngulunytju).

[517] McKenna, Return to Uluru, 71.

[518] “By early April, the government, embarrassed by the publication of lurid stories of McKinnon flogging aboriginal prisoners, and determined to put an end to the image of a lawless centre beyond the Commonwealth’s control, announced a Board of Enquiry, which was formally appointed by Governor-General Sir Isaac Isaacs on 8 May 1935.” Ibid., 83.

[519] Ted Strehlow, linguist and special advisor on Aboriginal languages and culture.

[520] Ibid., 95.

[521] They sensed the sacrosanct status of Uluru for the Anangu. Reverend Ernest Kramer had described it as “the most sacred spot in all [the] country around where natives come for their ceremonies.” Ibid., 97.

[522] Ibid., 96–97.

[523] Ibid., 54.

[524] Ibid., 130–131.

[525] Ibid., 135–136.

[526] Ibid., 136.

[527] Justice Toohey’s statement: “In 1934, while investigating the death of a young Aboriginal man near Attila (Mt Conner), the police arrested several men who later escaped and made their way to Uluru. There they hid at Mutitjulu but were fund. One, a brother of Paddy Uluru, tried to escape and was shot. The death is still in people’s minds. I have no doubt that the conflict (between black and white) that did exist, in particular the punitive expeditions, caused people to move away from actual or potential trouble.” Ibid., 143.

[528] Ibid., 193–195. “I thought of a throwaway remark McKinnon made late in his life, when he told a reporter that Yokununna’s remains were down in the basement of the Adelaide Museum. It seemed an apt metaphor for the entire corpus of Aboriginal history in Australia: buried deep in the recesses of national memory.” Ibid., 197.

[529] Ibid., 194. In October 2022 Yukun was laid to rest at Uluru. Two Guardian articles about this momentous day:

[530] The artwork which surrounds the ‘Uluru Statement’ depicts a fight to the death at Mutitjulu Waterhole—between Kuniya, a woman python with eggs, and Liru, a poisonous snake from the southeast. Ibid., 184.

[531] Ibid., 210. Another story: In late 2018 Dennis Foley, a local aboriginal leader from the Gai-mariagal country—the country where I was brought up—participated in a men’s healing group at Middle Creek, Narrabeen: “We cleaned the font out and we mixed it up and filled it with white ochre, and painted up. The country came alive.” Dennis Foley, Peter Read, What the Colonists Never Knew, A History of Aboriginal Sydney (Canberra: National Museum Australia, 2020), 216. Italics added.

[532], accessed 11 September, 2021.

[533] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 475.

[534] The blind and deaf educator and author.

[535] Ibid., 279.

[536] Ibid., 279.

[537] Ibid., 280.

[538] (1702–1768)

[539] Henry Reynolds, This Whispering in our Hearts (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1998), xii.

[540] Ibid., xii.

[541] Stan Grant, Talking to My Country (Sydney: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017), 2-3.

[542] Gushee, The Sacredness of Human Life, 189. “Similarly, the depth and persistence of Sculthorpe’s ongoing fascination with these melodies suggests that he is making a sincere homage to Aboriginal culture, acknowledging and celebrating its diversity and richness.” Jonathan Paget, ‘Has Sculthorpe Misappropriated Indigenous Melodies?’, Musicology Australia, 35:1, 109.

[543] Begbie, A Peculiar Orthodoxy, 17. Inventio for Bach, was about finding generative material—an idea that could be developed in different ways, and the process of how the idea could be developed (the elaboratio). Both words—inventi and elaboratio—are rhetorical terms.

[544] “The bees steal from this flower and that, but afterwards turn their pilferings into honey, which is their own … So the pupil will transform and fuse together the passages that he borrows from others, to make of them something entirely his own.” Montaigne, Essays, trans. J. M. Cohen (Harmondsworth, 1958), 56.

[545] Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, 331.

[546] Davis & Williams, Everything You Need To Know About The Uluru Statement From The Heart, 15.

[547] James Douglas, President of the Royal Society, 1768. Raymond Evans, A History of Queensland (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 18. The conquest of Israel cannot be compared to this.

[548] Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution: Report of the Expert Panel, Report, 16 January 2012, 1–3.

[549], accessed 21/10/2021.

[550] Uluru Statement of the Heart.

[551] North Head—one of the two headlands of Sydney Harbour.

[552] Foley, Read, What the Colonists Never Knew, 27–28.

[553] Ibid., 28. “In all of this Car-rang-gel (North Head) stood out as a monolith, towering above the plains to the east and looking over the lands to the west. It is a place where Baiame could rest and survey her land, and thus it has been sacred from Baiame’s time.” Ibid., 21.

[554] Ibid., 28. “It was sung by men and women, but mainly women. Narrabeen Lagoon, Harbord, down at Freshwater when I was a kid, Dee Why Lagoon, Kulka (Curl Curl) Lagoon. … They’d be singing the song.” Ibid., 28. (These are all familiar places of my youth.)

[555] My wife, Clare is from New Zealand.

[556] Ibid., 29–30.

[557], accessed 9 September, 2021.

[558] Ex 3:4–6.

[559] Brown, Pilgrim Through This Barren Land, 216. “Space is one of the great, poorly explored spiritual resources of Australia.” Les Murray.

[560] “Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are.” Jose Ortega y Gasset.

[561] Listen: A piece about the desert, composed in 1979. The explorer, Ernest Giles held that “unto thee by God is given, to roam the desert paths of earth and thence explore the fields of heaven.” Giles, Australia Twice Traversed, Vol II, 153–155.

[562] Paul commented: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

[563] Spiritually—a place near to us. In Heideggerian terms, a simple wakefulness—an awakening to see suddenly that the being “is.”

[564] John 4:23. To tabernacle is the Biblical way of dwelling—John 1:14, Rev 21:3, cf. 2 Sam 7:6.

[565] “The settlement lifestyle reveals more clearly something of the essential nature of Aboriginal humanness and experience, which requires a more intense personal confrontation and involvement with each and every problem of residential survival that is experienced due to the day-to-day natural weather cycles and climatic events.” Page & Memmott, Design, Building on Country, 53.

[566] When Jesus was asked to restore the kingdom of Israel, he said, “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.” No homecoming here. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Act 1:7–8. They apostles waited and prayed, when the Spirit came there was the blowing of a violent wind from heaven which filled the whole house. Each of them was filled with the Spirit. Sky intersecting with earth—a tabernacling.

[567] John Harris, One Blood, 200 Years of Aboriginal Encounter with Christianity: A Story of Hope (Sutherland: Albatross Books, 1994), 905. William Ridley, Kamilaroi and other Australian languages (Sydney: Thomas Richards, 1875), 171.

[568] Xavier Herbert, Poor Fellow, My Country (Sydney: Collins, 1975), 489.

[569] Uluru Statement from the Heart.

In the same year that Sculthorpe wrote Mangrove and I, In Terra Pax, a revival “of great power and unusual longevity” broke out in Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land in Northern Australia. On 14 March 1979 about 20 people met at pastor Djiniyini Gondarra’s house. He describes the event:

“I asked the group to hold each other’s hands and I began to pray for the people and the church, that God would pour out His Holy Spirit to bring healing and renewal to the hearts of men and women, and to the children. Suddenly we began to feel God’s Spirit moving in our hearts and the whole form of prayer-life suddenly changed and everybody began to pray in spirit and harmony. And there was a great noise going on in the room and we began to ask one another what was going on. Some of us said that God had now visited us and once again established His kingdom among His people.”

The whole community was affected. Nightly meetings were held with two hundred attending. The Island was transformed:

“It was not only in the camp but in the church and the community as a whole, in fact the relationships with the church, the council, with departments, the foreman, the bosses, and the workmen, the family and the village life with wives, husbands and children, were affected. It just swept through as though God had turned on a tap and was cleansing out the power of darkness. All the time we could hear singing; people would go past talking about it and at night we could go to sleep hearing people still singing Christian choruses. It was just like Pentecost.”

This revival was not localized or short-lived. Djuniyini explained: “When we read in the Scriptures of Peter and others when they received the power of the Spirit, they didn’t stop, they went out. This was revealed to us and we started to minister to other communities.” They journeyed throughout Arnhem Land, and into northern and north-western Australia for more than three years. Dramatic events followed. Crime dropped to zero in Wiluna in Western Australia [at the edge of the Western desert]; in Warburton in August 1981 [small town situated south of the Gibson Desert] 3,000 visited their meetings; 5,000 at Meekatharra [“place of little water”, town in central Western Australia]; in 1988, almost a decade later, they baptized 108 people in the Anguragu river after a mission in Groote Eylandt.

This revival was concerned with the dignity and liberation of Aboriginal people; it also gives hope for non-Aboriginal society, for it is the largest revival that Australia has experienced. In Mark Elliot’s book on Providence, he explains that “Saul experiences the dark side, David the light side, of God’s providence.” Can it be thus—“…the work of the [underprivileged and powerless] people and the Holy Spirit”? Yes, surely! Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Linder, Attending to the National Soul, Evangelical Christians in Australian History 19142014 (Clayton: Monash University Publishing, 2020), 381. Cited in Jeanette Boyd, ‘The Arnhem Land Revival of 1979: An Australian Aboriginal Religious Movement, unpublished paper, October 1986, in Piggin and Linder, Attending to the National Soul, 381. Max Hart, A Story of Fire: Aboriginal Christianity (Blackwood: New Creation Publications, 1988), 50f. Elliott, Providence, 132. Malcolm Champion, first Anglican Aboriginal bishop’s testimony, ‘Minjung in Australia’, South Pacific Journal of Mission Studies, 1.1, July 1989, 8f.