January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

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Welcome to the Banjo Bible – the greatest story ever told, as Banjo Paterson might have told it. With some help from Dorothea Mackellar, John O’Brien, and me!

A CD of the poems is available now. Follow the CD link at left for more details.

Click on the title of each poem to read a little more about each one, including the bible verses they are based on.

“My Country”

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

“In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

“Let there be light!” the Lord God said,
And “Let there be a sky”,
And “Let us lift some ocean bed
And spread it out to dry”.
And in a word, without admin-
istrative paraph’nalia,
The Lord had done a super thing –
The Lord had made Australia!

He’d made a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
(Though probably, to be precise,
it wasn’t sunburnt yet:
It took a while the sun device,
To rise and shine and set.)

(And droughts and flooding rains you’d think,
Were later sorts of weather:
The Lord’d made enough to drink,
When getting things together).
But still, the far horizons and
The cliffs; the jew-el sea,
The beauty of a southern land:
He caused it all to be!

The setting, then, was ready so
He made some vegetations,
And filled the sky and sea below
With lively populations.
And then he made some animals
To run and bounce and creep:
Some reptiles and some mammamals,
To scurry and to sleep.

By now the place was fairly good,
But still it lacked an item:
The Lord had planned a neighbourhood
Of people to delight him.
And so he turned a dusty sod,
and formed a sprightly fellow.
And then he made a woman’s bod
And soul – to share his pillow.

And though the couple settled in a
Distant northern place,
The Lord had reared a winner
For the maiden human race:
A “ready, steady, multiply!”
And off the folk would spill,
From Eden out to Gundagai,
From Nod to Broken Hill.

And that it’s said told is rougly how
Australia came to be,
It wasn’t just a “big kapow”
Or random by degree.
An owner, drafter, engineer
And builder made the planet,
And having done so, put us here
To woman it, and man it.

“Mulga Bill’s Bicycle”

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden. But you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.”  Genesis 2:16

Twas Adam, on an evening walk, who caught the sinful craze
And turned away the gracious Lord who gave him all his days,
He ambled through the garden next to Eve – his darling wife,
And gobbled down the berries from the yummy tree of life.
But lurking in the shrubb’ry was an adder keen to greet:
It mentioned all the fruits and said “Excuse me, can you eat?”

Well Eve, to whom the question travelled, stumbled to a blunder.
She knew of one forbidden tree, but now she fell to wonder:
Perhaps the Lord (and so the serpent said) had been a lying,
Or never really said the tree’s devourer would be dying.
And so she went to seize its crop without another blinking,
Which raises many questions, such as: what was Adam thinking?

Well scripture doesn’t really say, but still it’s worth a guess,
For men throughout the years would make a very sim’lar mess.
Perhaps he thought “Look here, you snake, from Eden to the sea,
From over there to over here, there’s none around like me.
Obedience for me is but a simple, sweet delight –
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a glow worm can it light?
I’m very good at being good, as everybody knows,
Although I’m not the one to talk – I hate a man that blows.”

And if he reckoned all of that, the tragedy was this:
The Lord had made him full of goodness, blessedness and bliss,
But did he think he didn’t need the Lord to keep him strong,
That on his own he wouldn’t do the slightest bit of wrong?
Well possibly…for when his wife had bitten, chewed and swallowed,
She handed him a piece and, in a moment, Adam followed!

Twas Adam, then, on Eden’s walk who ate the banned cuisine,
And in his heart began a horrid journey unforeseen,
His soul – it hurtled down a hill inside him to the fray,
And went a dozen yards and bolted dirtily away.
It left the track and took him on a blinding terrored streak,
And whistled down the awful slope and stopped in Dead Man’s Creek.

Twas Adam then, with quite a squawk, who tumbled thus from grace,
And brought the Lord’s displeasure on the human being race,
For though his soul was dead in sin, it lived to make a kid,
And carry on a nature to approve of what he did.
And Adam and his wife began to fight and yell and squabble,
And blame each other often for that first regretful gobble.
And no one ever since has been as good as in the ‘ginning,
For all of us, but one, have been a-constant-ally sinning.

But still the Lord was ready with some mercy for the strife:
He went to tell the couple of a coming human life:
A powerful descendant to assume the fallen flesh,
And crush the crafty serpent and restore the race afresh.
And so the awful consequence of sin began abating,
And with a sigh of thankfulness, a people started waiting…

.

“Waltzing Matilda”

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents…for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Hebrews 11:9-10

Once a jolly Abraham camped down in Hebron,
Close to the shade of the great Mamre trees.
And he sang as he watched and listened to his billy boil:
“Who’ll come a waiting for someone with me?”

“Waiting for someone, waiting for someone,
Who’ll come a waiting for someone with me?”
And he sang as he watched and listened to his billy boil:
“Who’ll come a waiting for someone with me?”

Well Abraham had earlier been living in a country house,
The Lord however took him to some other territ’ry.
He said “Abram, I promise I will give you a descendant,
And I’ll bless him, ‘cos I’ll give him all the land that you can see.”

Well Abraham was doubtful that this blessed one could really come
From someone as old and decrepit as he.
But he figured that the Lord could do just anything he wanted to
And so after a bit of to-and-froing, he believed.

“Descendants! Descendants! At last some descendants!
And one special kiddie particularly.”
And he sang as he looked at the enormous bit of country
“Who’ll come a waiting for someone with me?”

Well Abraham he settled there, perhaps by a billabong,
But he settled in manner kind of temporary.
He decided he would shelter in a rough and ready camping tent,
And so a sort of swagman from then he would be.

“A camping! A camping! Who’ll come a camping?
Who’ll come a camping and waiting with me?”
And he sang as he looked at the extremely big locality,
Who’ll come a camping and waiting with me?

Once a jolly swagman, then, camped in a promised land,
Trusting in the Lord as he made a cup of tea.
And he sang as he wondered when the promised son would happ’ly come
Receiving all his territory permanently.

Waiting for someone, waiting for someone,
Waiting for the end of the era BC.
And he sang as he watched and listened to his billy boil:
“Who’ll come a waiting for someone with me?”

 

“Clancy of the Overflow”

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and they will come out with great possessions…And in the fourth generation your descendants will come back here.'”  Genesis 15:11

He had written them a letter which he had upon his better knowledge
Chiseled with his finger on some very heavy stone.
They were loyal when he knew them so perhaps he sent it to them with an
Introduction saying: “To a people all my own”.

“Now you know that I have saved you from a nation that enslaved you:
You were living down in Egypt and were getting very low.
So I put some simple posers through my humble servant Moses to the
King along the lines of ‘would you let my people go?'”

“But the King was quite resistant so I had to be persistent with some
Methods only those of us divine have ever used.
It was wonder and disaster til your very stubborn master came at
Last to say (exasperated) ‘People you’re excused!'”

“Then I parted up the ocean with a stiff and breezy motion to en-
able you to leave the place for good, and with a cheer.
And I led you in a fire (til the sun was getting higher) and I
Led you in a cloud until you came at last to here.”

“And a place for some reviving, not to mention happy thriving,
Lies a little further on and we can go there in a trice.
But this high and rocky mountain with its running water fountain
Seems an excellent location for a bit of stern advice.”

“Now you know that I am holy and I’m also meek and lowly,
Well I’ve chosen to reside among you – right within your view.
But you’ll only be my treasures if you follow all the measures I have
Fashioned for the purpose that you all be holy too.”

“So I’ve written ten instructions with some obvious constructions, and I’ve
Put them on some tablets so you have them ever near.
And my very strong advising is you all be memorizing them un-
Til they’re well cemented in the spot from ear to ear.”

All of this the Lord unending may have added to his sending of his
Letter with its regulations, rules, and caveats.
Prob’ly different in expression but a similar impression to the
Record in the Bible of his mountaineering chats.

And the laws he legislated for the nation he created could be
Summarized as follows “Love the Lord with all your heart,
And you need to love the fellas in your neighbourhood as well as all the
Women and the children: every human counterpart.”

Now the things he was commanding you would think were quite demanding, after
All the Lord is perfect and he wished them be the same.
But he knew that they were wayward and without assistance they would do what-
ever came a-naturally and put themselves to shame.

So he made them special offers from the never-ending coffers of his
Mercy – he would give them second natures to obey.
With a broken-hearted pleading they would find what they were needing & would
Suddenly be wanting to be sticking to the way.

And he had another blessing for the willingly confessing – he would
Pardon them a temporary punishment of sin.
With a solemn sacrificing of some animals sufficing, they could
Stay a little longer at the Lord Almighty’s inn.

Now the matters more eternal would remain inside his journal but the
Promised land was waiting so he told them to proceed.
With the “letter” in their keeping and the little kiddies leaping they be-
gan the winding journey to wherever he would lead.

“The Man from Ironbark”

January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

“Moses summoned all Israel and said…’You will settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety'”  Deuteronomy 12:10

It was a very hairy man who struck a certain town,
And stumbled on a leery plan to bed and settle down.
He wandered here and wandered there, until a true beguiler
Enticed him with her looks and flair – a woman named Delilah.
The union, though, was fateful for our Samson and his mop,
For soon the lass would launch a store – a sort of barber’s shop.

Well Samson was a man of might – the strongest human ever,
With strength akin to dynamite and gelignite together.
He was the Living Lord’s design to save His populi,
From horrid things their Philistine oppressors used to try.
In fact it’s said that once he warded off a thousand crims
With just a bone, and what the Lord’d put into his limbs.

Delilah, though, was fair and flash, as tempters mostly are,
She wore a strike-your-fancy sash; and loved a verbal spar.
She was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,
She honed the art of self-promoting: “Me,” she said “for Me!”
But here’s the thing, of all, that touches most upon our wagging –
She loved her money very much, and sure was good at nagging.

So when the dreaded enemy approached her in frustration
And offered her a hefty fee for certain information
About her strong beloved and his energy and muscle,
She took to seek the grubby grand, and started up the tussle.
“I have a question, dear, I do, I hope it isn’t rude,
But how could one as strong as you be tethered and subdued?”

Well Samson, so it seemed, was fine and willing to be tied –
He said “My darling, use some twine that hasn’t fully dried.”
The Philistines in turn provided seven bits of string,
And lay in wait as Lilah glided in to do the thing.
But when she called the plotters out to catch her wily double,
He tossed away the string without the slightest bit of trouble!

He later told her “Use my scruffin’, fluffin’ hair for weaving,
And see the rough and tough and puffin’ power in me leaving.”
She probably felt the time was right to give his hair a groom,
And gladly strung it extra tight across her weaving loom.
But when he felt his shaggy head connected to some cloth,
He pulled apart the pin and thread, and flung the fabric off.

Another try, another fail, but ‘Lilah was progressing –
You’ll notice there her maiden sale in hair and whisker dressing.
And so she let her lasso fly towards a final ropin’ –
For speaking metaphoric-lie, her barber’s shop was open!
She simply had to get the gent – her patron number one –
To answer her equivalent to “How’d you like it done?”

“I beg you, dear, to tell me how you’re stronger than a lion.”
But Samson gave her nothin’ now – a-nothin’ was he buyin’.
Delilah, though, she nagged and nagged and nagged and nagged again,
As if she’d caught a cat and dragged it screaming through his brain,
At last her partner, worn and fraught, and sick to death of chidings –
As good as said “I’ll have it short around the back and sidings!”

Delilah gave her friends a wink, a dexter eyelid shut –
“We’ve only got to give, I think, his bloomin’ hair a cut!”
They hurried in to lend a hand, and brought the promised cash,
And gave the strong ‘un’s every strand a cold and ruthless slash.
And as they did the quick and shoddy, maladjusted shearing,
The strength inside our Samson’s body did a disappearing.

His hairiness had been the source of all his punch and vigour,
For with it came the blessed force of someone vastly bigger.
The Lord, in fact, had told his Mum and Dad at his conception,
To raise the little chum to be badly-groomed exception.
And if a razor never saw the skin upon his cranium,
He’d always have an inward braun of reinforced titanium.

But now the Phillies hauled him off for dark incarcerating,
And with a condescending scoff began the celebrating.
They merried by the thousand in the temple of an idol,
Til Samson, from the wretched din, was going suicidal.
But then they made an error, for they brought him in to mock ‘im,
Which gave the wounded warrior another chance to sock ‘em!

He asked the Lord to give him just a final little filler
Of power – then he yelled and thrust his hand against a pillar.
He pushed it down – another too – and made the hall collapse,
And almost, in a day, removed all Philly from the maps.
And so the Lord had used a bloke who wasn’t too finessed,
To foil a foe and fix his folk a phase of fearless rest.

“Been there before”

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

“Now Jesse said to his son… ‘Take this Ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp…They are with…all the men of Israel in the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.’” 1 Samuel 17:17-19

There came a youngster to Elah’s mound,
To Elah’s mound when the sun was low,
And he carried supplies to help the crown
In a looming war with a bitter foe.|
But the lad would take the rivals down –
Those godless rivals on Elah’s mound.

A giant – Goliath – was on the banks,
On Elah’s banks, when the talk was high.
He taunted the men of Israel’s ranks
To send a soldier out to try
And battle him down to the stony ground –
The stony gravel of Elah’s mound.

Well they saw the giant from head to heel
Was nine feet tall, and he carried a spear,
And a soldier ahead of him bore a shield,  
And neither revealed any hint of fear.
And the Jewish hearts began to pound
With terror wide on Elah’s mound.

Goliath laughed at their hopes o’erthrown,
But the boy advanced like a warrior King.
Then out of his pouch he fetched a stone,
And felled him dead with a perfect sling.
He’d trusted God to bring him down –
The God who reigned on Elah’s mound.

“Said Hanrahan”

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

“After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land…You will not live there long, but will certainly be destroyed.”  Deuteronomy 4:25-27

“We’ll all be rooned!” Isaiah said
In accent most forlorn,
Or other words of sim’lar dread
Til most his voice was gawn.

“We’ll all be rooned” he said “And here’s
The woolly reason why:
We’ve wandered off like sheep for years
And gone a mile awry!”

The congregation stood about
Alistening to his oracles.
They gave a disconcerted pout,
And scratched their noggins’ follicles.

“I thought we were immune from roon”
A fella said with frown.
“He really saying all we’re do-in’
Wrong will bring us down?”

“He seems to be” another spoke
In manner sort of mellow.
“He’s giving us a red hot poke,
this old Isaiah fellow.”

“D’ya think the roon’ll happen soon?”
another said all glum.
“I’ve set aside this afternoon
to correspond with Mum.”

“A roon is never opportune.”
A friend was heard to say.
“A ru-in rooned my honeymoon:
Twas over in a day!”

A sort of resignation fell
On all at the remark,
As everyone around a well,
Was chewing bits of bark.

“Without a doubt a ru-in’s brew-in”
Spoke the older sages.
“The Lord has prob’ly bin a-stew-in’
Over it for ages.”

“He’ll surely be purshoon the roon
Til all the people be jipped.
He’ll prob’ly send a big ti-phoon
To blow us back to Egypt”

“A storm, for sure” a youth replied,
“Twould be enough draconian.
But as for me – a hunch inside
Says something Babylonian.”

And so the speculations ran,
Or words, perhaps, alike ‘em,
As Abraham’s extended clan,
Awaited God to strike ‘em.

But no one, not a bod, among
The little controversy,
Was humbled in his soul, or stung
To ask the Lord for mercy.

And so He sent the dreaded roon,
Although he wished to right ‘em:
A mighty big and mean platoon
Of soldiers went to smite ‘em.

It swaggered down from Babylon,
and tore the place asunder.
It killed and burned and jumped upon,
And carried off its plunder.

And as they saw the wreckage strewn,
Across the promised land,
A people cried “We’ve all bin rooned
At God Almighty’s hand!”

“The Man from Snowy River”

January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”  Luke 19:10

There was movement in the heavens for the word had passed around,
          That overnight the Son of God had got away,
And then had joined the wildest mob that ever ran upon the ground –
          A race of creatures fierce and feral, scorned and stray.
For he had taken on a body in a human mother’s frame,
          And so the angels gathered, readied for the fight,
For any cherub loves adventure where redemption is the aim,
          And all the seraphs snuff the battle with delight.

There was the Father, God Almighty, who it seemed had made a plan
          For the manoeuvre many centuries ago,
For he was briefing all his minions that this little Son of Man
          Would bring an end to the rebellion down below.
And then the Spirit of the overflow, the Holy number three,
          Was there to muster all his power in the lead,
For with the Father and the Son he was the Lord – the Trinity,
          And it was up to them to make the plan succeed.

“Now there’s a little while to wait”, the Father said in measured tone,
          “For he’ll be in his mother Mary longer yet.”
“However Joseph, her fiancé, needs a briefing of his own,
          For when he notices he could be quite upset.”
And so an angel known as Clancy went to make the matter mild,
          And as he left the Father wore a tender grin –
He added “Clancy, tell him ‘Jesus’ is the name to give the child,
          For he’ll be rescuing a people from their sin”.

And so he went; they next assembled forty weeks or so from then,
          When Mary saddled up her small and weedy beast.
It had a touch of Timor donkey; three parts thoroughbred of ten –
          A hard and tough and wiry burro of the east.
And it would carry her to Bethlehem with Joseph at her side,
          And it was there the Saviour joined the atmosphere,
And in the firmament above, the gathered heavenlies applied
          their very all to give a hale and hearty cheer.

But it was on! Another monarch of the twisted, jealous kind,
          Was told a rival King had entered his domain,
And he would send a pack of soldiers with commissioning to find
          the boy, and kill him lest he ever come to reign.
And so the Father shouted “Quick, I need a lightning volunteer
          To say to Joseph ‘take the promised one and run!’”
And in a moment cherub Clancy made his way to reappear,
          And off they went; and so the battle had begun.

But then the enemy would wait in silent stealth for many years,
          Until a better time for Jesus to begin
His long and lonesome undertaking, full of sweat and blood and tears,
          To find the lost, and round ‘em up, and bring ‘em in.
And so the Spirit went to help him – he descended like a dove
          Upon the lad as he was baptized in a stream,
And then the Father urged him on, he bellowed “Here’s the Son I love,”
          And then with that, the Devil tried his second scheme.

Well he approached him in his weakness as he hungered from a fast,
          And made a ploy to knock him off the narrow way.
He offered Jesus every kingdom with their lands and splendours vast,
          If he would fall before him, worship him and pray.
But then the Spirit gave him strength, and he resisted with the word –
          He said “It’s written ‘Worship God, and him alone.’”
And after trying once again the Devil left him, and a herd
          Of helping angels came to make their comforts known.

And so the Son began his muster, he went at them from the jump,
          And called the rebels to approach him and believe,
And with the Holy Spirit’s help he rounded up a little clump
          Of keen disciples – young and curious, naive.
But still the mob was running wilder – it ignored him with delight,
          And fled their maker to a paddock far away.
And though he showed them who he was with many miracles of might,
          They kept a-sinning in their rough and frenzied play.

And then he lost them for a moment til he saw a distant peak,
          And went to preach a certain sermon on that mount.
For they were moving very near it and would quickly hear him speak
          To his disciples with a fiercely strong account
Of all the pleasures of obedience to heaven’s perfect law –
          And if they liked it, well he’d rope ‘em boldly in!
And so he headed to the mount with his enthusiastic corps,
          And stood upon it, in the Spirit, to begin.

Well as he spoke – the pack – it halted, in amazement at the sound,
          And in a restless mood began a fast ascent,
For Jesus taught with an authority and wisdom to astound,
          And so towards the lofty pinnacle they went.
With every new and old commandment they were moving to a light
          Of generosity, of faithfulness and care –
Of giving enemies a meal instead of giving them a bite;
          Of being undercover operatives in prayer.

And ever upward, surely upward, did the helpless people tread,
          Until it seemed the rounding up was almost done.
For they were tending every word the Kosciusko builder said,
          And moving onward, ever onward to the Son.
But at the mountaintop – alas! – it seemed they counted up his threat
          To their beloved way of darkness still in view.
And then without another thought, without a pause for old regret,
          They gathered pace and down the other side they flew!

Well when he saw where they had headed, even Jesus took a pull,
          It was a sight to make the boldest hold their breath.
For there was punishment enough to render hell forever full
          Of condemnation, in his settled rage, and death.
But he had ever seen it coming, he had known the human heart,
          And with an anguish only deity could know,
Prepared to drink the bitter cup they were deserving from the start,
          And with a cry took off to follow them below.

And so he trailed them down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
          And went to meet them at a dry and dusty station.
For he had seen a look of hatred in them burst and rush ahead,
          As they had passed him on that mountainous location.
And he had known the one condition for a sinful soul to live,
          And so he cast his every guard and watch aside,
And threw himself upon the vicious crowd, with longing to forgive,
          And in the dust was beaten, hung, and crucified.

And as he perished on the beams he drank the Father’s fury up,
          And made a way for him to crown them all with grace,
For he would win a sure and everlasting pardon with the cup
          Of tribulation he was taking in their place.
And yet the muster wasn’t finished for the pack was running still –
          When they had murdered him they hastened off to flee.
And all the Trinity decided they would never rest until
          A mass of Christians gathered round a throne with glee.

But still of course there was one resting – he was resting in a grave –
          The Son of God – the finest stockman of them all.
And if he didn’t perk up quickly they could never hope to save
          The mob the terrors of the shadows soon to fall.
And so the Spirit went to help him to the Father’s saving arm,
          And in a miracle to make the ranges ring,
Applied his power to the body like a soothing, healing balm,
          And in a moment lifted up a risen King!

So it was on again – the King – he went to muster from a height,
          And though they ran as hard as ever in their fear,
He had a resurrection power now to wheel them to the light,
          And so he eased his riding up and took the rear.
And then he called them – simply called them – with a message of relief,
          And when the Spirit rode to show them it was true,
A mighty number heard the warning, and were filled with trusting grief,
          And in remorse began to call upon him too.

And in an instant Jesus answered every soul that raised a cry –
          He sent a free and gracious pardon from above,
And put his Spirit deep inside their hearts to dwell and purify,
          And change their hateful inclinations into love.
And it was grand to see him do it, for his only trick was grace –
          He didn’t need a stockwhip now to give a crack,
Because he gathered them in eagerness to see the Father’s face,
          And in the Spirit brought them trotting gladly back.

And in the coming new creation, where the city walls shall raise
          Their ever clear and jasper battlements on high,
And where the air will be as crystal, and the Trinity shall blaze
          Upon their throne beneath the warm and tender sky,
And where beside the river’s overflow, the tree of life will sway
          to all the breezes, and the streets will venture wide,
A risen Saviour known as Jesus will be worshipped every day,
          And all the clan will tell the story of his ride.

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