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Song acknowledging sacredness of Australia launched in Brisbane

[by Emile Ng]

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Image: Fiona Basile

Two female composers from Brisbane have publicly launched a song acknowleding that all Australians lived on sacred ground.

Australian Catholic University theologian Dr Maeve Heaney VDMF and Indigenous singer-songwriter Toni Janke, both based in Brisbane, launched their song, On This Sacred Ground..

Both Dr Heaney and Ms Janke were members of the historic fifth Plenary Council, as representatives of Catholics from Brisbane. The pair performed On This Sacred Ground during the Acknowledgment of Country on the Wednesday morning of the Second Assembly of the Council.

Dr Heaney, who has a research interest in the intersection of music and theology, said the song acknowledged the mutual understanding that all Australians lived on sacred ground.

“The song attempts to gather an awareness of the sacredness of the ground we stand on, our First Nation Peoples’ awareness of this reality and our Catholic understanding of Tradition, that we always move forward based on the wisdom of the past while open to the visions and dreams of the reign of God into the future,” Dr Heaney said.

“The song resonates with the story of this nation and, as is always the case, art and music precede and help provoke change in culture and law.

“While born of two Christian composers, the message can resonate with those open to the rich spirituality of the land and our history.”

As a respected theologian with five albums under her belt, Dr Heaney has collaborated with Ms Janke on various projects after discovering a shared love of music, songwriting, inclusive leadership, and faith.

Ms Janke is a Wuthathi and Meriam Catholic woman whose award-winning music career has spanned 30 years. She was invited to give the Acknowledgement of Country on the Wednesday morning session of the Second Assembly in Sydney.

Ms Janke said Australia “is and has always been ancient sacred ground”.

“Never has there been a more important time in the history of this country to address some major issues regarding First Nations people,” Ms Janke said.

“The Catholic Church in Australia must find new and meaningful ways to engage with First Nations communities, not only in Masses and liturgies but in decision-making, leadership and governance. We have so much to say and contribute to the Church as First Nations people who have a deep and profound spiritual and cultural connection to this country.

“We are all connected to God, to place, to country, to song and music, through the Spirit.”

On This Sacred Ground was produced by Multi-Platinum award-winning producer Adrian Hannan at The SongStore, in Victoria. It will be available on all music streaming services including Apple Music. Official sheet music will be released at a later date.

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