Advent song for December 14: Carol of the Birds, Australia

I had a different song in mind for Australia until this week, when I suddenly had a good idea for next year’s advent calendar and realised that I wanted to save my original choice for that. So I went on a search for Australian Christmas songs and I’m glad I did, because it turns out they have some great ones. I was tempted by Aussie Jingle Bells (“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Christmas time is beaut/Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute”), but I’ve gone instead for the less well-known but more charming Carol of the Birds by the 20th century Australian composer William G. James, with words by John Wheeler which are so evocatively Australian that I’m going to break with tradition and include them here, so you can sing along:

Carol of the Birds

Out on the planes the Brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing
Up to the sun the wood larks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas day

Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparkle and quiver
Deep in the gullies Bell birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyrics notes rhyming
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas Day

Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in wattle tree bowers
In the blue ranges, Lorikeets calling
Carols of bush birds rising and falling
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas Day

(“Orana” is an aboriginal word meaning “welcome”.)

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