Monday, April 03, 2006

On Saturday evening, about 30 former pupils (plus spouses) from the Norfolk School had a great get-together at Cat's Cafe. Now these "kids" had all gone to school in the 1930's-1950's. The wonderful shared memories and the camaraderie made for a memorable evening. They recited the pledge and saluted the flag, and everyone received Merit Certificates from former teacher Ian McCowan, assisted by the Queen and Prince Charles!! Edie and Susan were armed with whistles and canes to keep order, but were not too successful in that area!
Everyone sang the Norfolk Ode, which has been sung by generations of schoolchildren here. The words were composed by Gustav Quintal, who was headmaster at the turn of the century. The tune is the same as the one for Advance Australia Fair. We would all like to think the Aussies pinched the tune, but seeing that "Advance Australia" was composed in 1878, and Gustav Quintal was only born in 1859, I don't suppose that is the case. In any case, the copyright on Advance Australia ran out in 1966, so we can sing the Norfolk Ode with clear conscience.
I personally feel that the words to the Norfolk Ode have stood the test of time better than those of Advance Australia. (Look up all the words on the Internet.)
Here are the words of The Norfolk Ode:

On Norfolk's sunny sea girt isle
We'll raise our voices high
In praise of verdant hill and dale,
Beneath our kindly sky.
The laughing waves that lapping lave
Or loud in anger roar
Will join our song in cadence wild,
Around our craggy shore.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
The waves' tumultuous roar.
* * *
Our Island home though but a speck
On ocean's bosom wide,
It's dear to us its boys and girls,
It is our home and pride.
The lofty pines will beckon us,
If e'er abroad we roam,
And palms and ferns will welcome us,
Back to our island home.
No heartier welome shall we get,
Though all the earth we roam.
* * *
Our land is rich with luscious fruit,
With fish our waters swarm.
Our valleys deep are gay and rich,
Our climate mild and warm.
Let's bless the Giver of good things
Who all this good did plan,
And let us thankful be to Him,
For His great gifts to man.
Yes, let us thankful be to Him,
For His great gifts to man.
* * *

Now I cannot resist a little anecdote about something that happened way back in October 1974. This was the Bicentenary of Norfolk's discovery by Captain Cook, and the then Prime Minister of Australia Gough Whitlam was visiting the island. Some may recall that Whitlam had recently instituted Advance Australia as the National anthem for Australia. (This was later reversed, and was re-instated in 1984.) God Save the Queen was, and still is, the National anthem for Norfolk Island. We tend to be conservative and loyal to the Monarchy here.

At the start of a concert at which the PM Whitlam and his entourage were present, they struck up the National Anthem. I have never heard God Save the Queen sung so lustily! At the end, someone called "Second verse!!"

Now, no offence to the Aussies, but I hope we on this island never have to sing different words to the tune that we know as The Norfolk Ode!


Unknown said...

Mary, I had to smile about the Norfolk Ode. Many, may years ago - indeed decades ago - there was an ABC TV program about the search for a truly Australian national anthem. The panel would preview all possible contenders. A standard joke, week after week was Girt. Now Advance Australia Fair has "Our home is girt by sea" and the panel were amused/stunned by the preponderence of would-be anthems/national songs that had Girt in them. So it was with a smile on the lips and joy in my heart that I have read the Norfolk Ode with the sea girt isle. Girt rides again!

Anonymous said...

Gustav didn't write the words as is often believed. It came from a headmaster at the school late 20's early 30's, can't remember his name. Tom Lloyd wrote an article about it a couple of years back in the Norfolk Islander. Also Henrietta (Puss) Quintal lambased me for saying that Gustav wrote the words, she tul"Gootie naewa wriet aa sohng" en she was right. So we must find out the author. I wrote a new melody and used the words and Kath & my CD.

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