Church Songs

Image: C003churchlirrga86
Also known as: church djanba, church wangga, church lirrga

In the 1970s, composers of the three main ceremonial genres at Wadeye (Stan Mullumbuk, wangga; Joe Birrarri, djanba; Pius Luckan, lirrga) created songs on Christian themes for liturgical use. On 24 February 1973 a group of people from Port Keats (Wadeye) performed church djanba and lirrga at the Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, on the occasion of the First National Aboriginal Mass celebrated as part of the 40th International Eucharistic Congress, witnessed by over 30,000 people, including the visiting Polish Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II). The event was broadcast nationally on ABC TV. Church djanba and church lirrga songs are still performed occasionally today during church services in Wadeye, but church wangga seems to have fallen out of use some years ago. There are also a number of hymns that have been translated into Murriny Patha, some by the SIL linguist Chester Street, who with his wife Lyn Street worked at the school in Wadeye and also helped to produce a number of cassettes of Christian songs. There are also a number of locally-composed religious songs in Murriny Patha. The Wadeye Aboriginal Sound Archive includes many locally-made recordings of church songs and hymns sung by the Wadeye Choir. Photo: Pat O'Meara.

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