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Folklore: God Damned Australia!

bodgie 18 Apr 09 - 06:05 PM
Allen in Oz 18 Apr 09 - 07:02 PM
Joe Offer 19 Apr 09 - 01:45 AM
Neil D 19 Apr 09 - 02:48 AM
JennieG 19 Apr 09 - 02:48 AM
bodgie 19 Apr 09 - 02:56 AM
kendall 19 Apr 09 - 03:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Apr 09 - 05:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Apr 09 - 06:22 PM
cobber 19 Apr 09 - 11:00 PM
JennieG 19 Apr 09 - 11:22 PM
Neil D 20 Apr 09 - 02:40 AM
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Subject: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: bodgie
Date: 18 Apr 09 - 06:05 PM

A question for mudcappers. I am working on a radio doco about Australian traditional songs and religion. Being a Calathumpian I obviously need help. My producer posed the question "Why are there so few religious songs from the Australian folk tradition?" He was comparing (unfairly) with the USA. Obviously there are several factors: male dominated 19th century Oz society, our convict beginning, remoteness, lack of 'hill' communities, US being 100 years earlier etc. The only songs I can locate are early transportation broadsides of contrition, songs from shipwrecks imploring the Lord to help (bit late really) and mining disaster songs (ditto). Then there's the songs like Five & a Zack and Tolerant Man that seem to send up the Salvationists. We certainly had outback churches (nearly as many as we had pubs) but where are the god songs? I must admit it is an area I hadn't given much attention to but it is a brain stretcher. Over to you..... Warren Fahey


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: Allen in Oz
Date: 18 Apr 09 - 07:02 PM

Warren


It sounds like a job for Bob Bolton !!

AD


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 01:45 AM

I wonder if it's due to the nature of the religious groups. The "mainline" and Catholic churches use established hymnals and liturgical songs.
The more independent religious traditions like all those that stem from the Baptists, are more likely to come up with a variety of music because of their divesity. I'll betcha the U.S. has more religious denominations than the rest of the world combined.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: Neil D
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 02:48 AM

A great many of the early settlers in the Appalachian region of the U.S.(where much of America's folk music and culture was formed) were devout Scots-Irish protestants.* To this day that part of the country is perceived to have more than its share of religious fervor.

*from Wikipedia:
The term "Scotch-Irish" is an Americanism, almost unknown in Britain and Ireland, and refers to Irish Protestant immigrants from Ulster to America during the 1700s. An estimated 200,000 or more Scotch-Irish migrated to America in the 18th century.[2] The majority of these immigrants were descended from Scottish and English families who had been transplanted to Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 1600s.[3]Scholarly estimate is that over 200,000 Scotch-Irish migrated to the Americas between 1717 and 1775.[11] As a late arriving group, they found that land in the coastal areas of the English colonies was either already owned or too expensive, so they quickly left for the hill country where land could be had cheaply. Here they lived on the frontiers of America. Early frontier life was extremely challenging, but poverty and hardship were familiar to them. The term "hillbilly" has often been applied disparagingly to their descendants in the mountains, carrying connotations of poverty, backwardness and violence; this word probably having its origins in Scotland and Ireland.

The first trickle of Scotch-Irish settlers arrived in New England. Valued for their fighting prowess as well as their Protestant dogma, they were invited by Cotton Mather and other leaders to come over to help settle and secure the frontier.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: JennieG
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 02:48 AM

Perhaps there was a curtain drawn between the hymns sung in Sunday School/church, and everyday life? i.e. Sunday was for church and whatever went with it, the rest of the week was for work, and never the twain did meet. In my experience growing up in a country town in NSW in the late 50s-early 60s Sunday was never allowed to impinge on the rest of the week, and vice versa.

I attended a youth fellowship in a Presbyterian church in my mid-late teens and we considered ourselves very daring when we sang the 23rd Psalm (King James version) to the tune of "The Gypsy Rover", accompanied by guitar.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: bodgie
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 02:56 AM

Thanks for the comments and keep them coming. Think songs that mention God, dear Lord etc.... or even just the 'praise god' type so popular in American gospel and old timey. I think the lack of evangelical churches is a factor but we did have a hell of a lot of wandering pastors of every silly denomination. I think Jenni hits the nail on the head when she says 'sunday for the lord and every other day for work' - church was also a social occasion. even an opportunity to meet the opposite sex. I just thought of another song I collected in 1973 - The Parson & The Clerk...another one mocking clergy. Then there's the Temperance Movement.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: kendall
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 03:47 PM

calthumpian. I haven't heard that word since I was a small boy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 05:55 PM

1. Sheer numbers work here.
U. S. population 1830- 12,866,000
U. S. population 1890- 62,947,000 (but some experts say 75,000,000)
Australia pop. 1830-       70,000
Australia pop. 1890-    3,151,000

2. Greater homogeneity in Australia
Mostly UK in Australia until 20th c.
German ancestry, U. S.- 18%
German ancestry, Aust.- 4%
etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 06:22 PM

Pentacostal-charismatic membership in U. S. 6,200,000. There are an estimated 11,000 denominations of them world-wide. This is a tower of Babylon. These groups do a lot of publishing.
Hillsong in Australia has about 20,000; total Pen.-Char. only about 200,000 (? couldn't find reliable figures).

Dunno the hymn production of this heterogeneous group, but large.

And don't forget the prolific production of spirituals, gospel, etc., by African-Americans.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: cobber
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 11:00 PM

My favourite for performance is Holy Dan, again more irreligious than reverent. Growing up in the sixties in a small town in Australia, church was an important part of the social life and was often the only place where you met your neighbours. My next door neighbour was a mile up the road. The nearest "big" town i.e. it had a station where you could get a train to Melbourne and a high school, had nine churches and one pub. Then for a few years there was no pub as it was demolished to build a Woolworths supermarket in the late sixties. I guess that meant there was plenty of religion available but most of the hymn books were imported from England so coming from there, as I did, it was all very familiarb but there was no great emphasis on "Australianising". Only around Christmas did the Australian songs get a bit of a run but they were always overshadowed by Silent Night etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: JennieG
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 11:22 PM

There's another poem, the title of which escapes me if indeed I ever knew it....something about "The Reverend Tobias Carey, a devout missionary?

As cobber says, we used the Presbyterian hymn book which probably came from the British Isles, then after the Billy Graham crusade in about 1959-60 we used the Billy Graham hymn book for more modern songs. But they weren't sung outside the church door. At school we learnt some of the James/Wheeler Australian carols.

I'm sure too, that the city experience would have been very different to that of the country - country folk were always more conservative. If religious songs had been sung, they would have continued longer in the country than in the city. Possibly someone may have a remembrance of their grandmother singing hymns as she hung the washing on the line, but not in my memory.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: God Damned Australia!
From: Neil D
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 02:40 AM

Bodgie's comment that "We certainly had outback churches (nearly as many as we had pubs) but where are the god songs?" reminds me of something I heard recently. For an interesting offbeat look at music and religion in the Southern U.S. today "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus" is a 2004 BBC documentary, directed by Andrew Douglas, in which Jim White describes his idea of the rural South. At one point Mr. White talks about how every little town has its church at one end and its honky-tonk at the other. Stand in the middle of town and you can feel the equal pull from each direction. This was about the best impression of the fabric of rural small town America I've ever heard. I remember a 100 year old story in my own family about my Grandfather bringing a bottle of whiskey to a church social. The film features performances by cool Alt-country (or whatever you want to call it) musicians such as The Handsome Family, David Eugene Edwards of 16 Horsepower and Johnny Dowd. A very interesting and entertaining film available on Net-flix but you can see pieces of it on Youtube as well.


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