Advent Song for December 16: Carol of the Birds

This is another song I never would have heard if it hadn’t been for 2012’s Christmas Songs from Around the World. I loved it the first time around, and I love it even more now that I’ve visited Australia (though not at Christmas; something I would like to rectify one day). There are lots of awesome things about Australia, but the most awesome of all – I use the word in both its original and more usual sense – is the wildlife, and, neatly, I can pair this beautiful carol with the good news that a solar-powered sound system, installed on Broughton Island, New South Wales and playing recordings of birdsong, has successfully lured breeding sea birds there to nest, including a petrel until recently thought to be extinct. And that’s pretty awesome too.

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”.)