Advance Australia Fair

"Advance Australia Fair" is the official national anthem of Australia.

Originally composed by Peter Dodds McCormick in the late 19th century (first performance at Sydney on St Andrew's Day,1878), it emerged as the most popular choice for the national anthem after an opinion poll in 1974 (the Australian Bureau of Statistics polled 60,000 nationally) and the National Song Poll in 1977 (where it garnered 43.6% of the vote) against "Waltzing Matilda" (which attracted 28.5% of the votes), the "Song Of Australia" (9.7%), and the then-current "God Save the Queen" (18.7%).

It was eventually officially adopted as the national anthem by the Governor-General in 1984. In the process, the second, fourth, and fifth verses were dropped from the "official" version, as they emphasised the British aspects of Australia's heritage, along with the virtues of Britain, and three lines were changed:

  • the first line of the first verse: "Australia's sons let us rejoice" to "Australians all let us rejoice"
  • verse 3 (verse 2 of official version), line 3 : "To make this youthful Commonwealth" to "To make this Commonwealth of ours"
  • verse 3 (verse 2 of official version), line 5 : "For loyal sons beyond the seas" to "For those who've come across the seas"

On most occasions, only the first verse of the official version is sung.

The national anthem, though sung with enthusiasm at national celebrations, is still regarded by many with mixed feelings and many older people still struggle with the words. Some of the lyrics, particularly the word "girt", are odd by modern standards, and the tune is generally regarded as uninspiring by comparison with "La Marseillaise", or "Land of Hope and Glory" (the English anthem with a tune borrowed from Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" march). "Advance Australia Fair" at least has the merit of being much easier to sing than "The Star Spangled Banner", and the lyrics do express relatively uncontroversial Australian self-beliefs and aspirations. Some ambiguity comes from the enduring popularity of "Waltzing Matilda", which is generally regarded as a much finer tune and has been part of the Australian imagination almost since its composition 120 years ago. However, Matilda's lyrics, detailing the exploits of an itinerant who steals a sheep and then drowns himself in an effort to avoid capture by the police and the local squatter, are regarded by some Australians as unsuitable as an expression of Australian values, and, indeed, as suitable topics for discussion in a national anthem.

Other tunes that have gained recognition in the popular mind as patriotic songs include the pop ballad "I Still Call Australia Home", by Peter Allen and the reggae-influenced rock song "Down Under" by band Men At Work. Also gaining popularity is "We Are Australian" by The Seekers.

Table of contents
1 Historical notes
2 Lyrics
3 External Links

Historical notes

It was first peformed, in its pro-British form (see below), on Nov 30 1878 in Sydney during a Highland Society function.

Before its adoption as Australia's national anthem, it saw considerable use elsewhere. For instance, during World War II, Australia's ABC used it to announce its news bulletins. It was also frequently played at the start or closing of official functions.

Lyrics

The official version

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Dodds' original lyrics

Australia's sons let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"

When gallant Cook from Albion sail'd,
To trace wide oceans o'er,
True British courage bore him on,
Till he landed on our shore.
Then here he raised Old England's flag,
The standard of the brave;
With all her faults we love her still,
"Britannia rules the wave!"
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this youthful Commonwealth
Renowned of all the lands;
For loyal sons beyond the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

While other nations of the globe
Behold us from afar,
We'll rise to high renown and shine
Like our glorious southern star;
From England, Scotia, Erin's Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Shou'd foreign foe e'er sight our coast,
Or dare a foot to land,
We'll rouse to arms like sires of yore
To guard our native strand;
Brittania then shall surely know,
Beyond wide ocean's roll,
Her sons in fair Australia's land
Still keep a British soul.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

External Links


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