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Songs and Lyrics

'Giving Voice'

'Giving Voice' is a compilation of 15 songs reflecting the concerns and creativity of A Chorus of Women. The songs and the accompanying booklet form a story of the activities of the Chorus over nearly four years.

A Chorus of Women - Giving Voice

The CD was launched by ACT Senator Kate Lundy at the ACT Legislative Assembly on Monday 11 December 2006. Chorus sang a selection of songs from the CD and Kate Lundy gave a very moving speech about the role A Chorus of Women had played in voicing the concerns of citizens, including politicians.

If you want to order a copy of 'Giving Voice' click here to download an order form.

Chorus of Women - Songbook

We have launched our beautiful 10th anniversary songbook, containing over 170 pages of our original music and much interesting information about us and about the songs. Songbooks are available for $30. Click on the image to order a copy. Please, contact us if you would like further details. Songbook

Our Songs

Music created by A Chorus of Women is generally free of copyright restrictions. If you would like the music for any of these songs please contact us.

A Recipe for Peace

Take grain from the earth and add water
Make by kneading to leaven with air
Bake in fire. Break and share.
Partake with your neighbour the blessing of bread

REFRAIN
May you never be hungry
May you never be thirsty
I wish you health and a happy home
My companion,* may peace be with you

Remember the making of bread like this
Remember the making of peace like this
Harmonies with friends and neighbours
and with strangers
Bridging the borders of discord and fear

Humble this cooking of bread and peace
Human the circle from hearth to heart
In longing, in hope, from hand to hand
I give you the song of my dream and my prayer

*companion is from the Latin com, with, and panis, bread

Words and music by Glenda Cloughley, written during the 2006 war between Israel and the Hezbollah.
First performed during two ceremonies of 'Breaking Bread, Sharing Grief' in Canberra in August 2006

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By Molonglo Waters

(The memories call out)
Remembering, remembering, remembering
Aaah, aaah, aaah ….

(Wind spirits whisper in the eucalypts)
Shee, Shee, Shee

(Fragments of dream and longing)
Remembering, remembering, remembering.

(Listening to this place)
By Molonglo waters, We thought we heard
Sorrowing spirits sing, Crying in the reeds
Sighing in the trees, Shoo – oo

(The spirits sing)
Shoo – oo, Shoo – oo

We know a woman whose baby has died
Ooh she is crying and sighing
Through Canberra streets she is walking all day
With the still little one in her arms.

Every person she passes,
Each man and woman she asks
‘Please can you help, can you tell me the way
For my baby to breathe once again?’

Many advise her to bury the child
No-one will answer her plea
No-one she meets attends to her grief
And soon it is said she is mad.

Remembering, remembering,
remembering the sadness of our loss.

Then comes a stranger one morning,
A man who is listening and kind.
When he has heard of her love for this child
He tells her to visit the homes in her suburb.

‘At every house where death is unknown
Ask for a mustard seed.
When you have gained but a palmful of seeds
New life from death will be coming.’

Now goes the woman in hope to a house
‘Has death ever visited here?’
‘Oh yes,’ says the man who opens the door,
‘My mother was killed in the fires of the summer.

We will tell you our sad, sad story
And we will listen to yours.’
So over some tea they talk and they weep
And no mustard seed does she gather from there.

Remembering, remembering,
remembering loving outlives death.

‘Yes, death has been here,’ says the woman next door,
‘Although I am far from the grave of my son.
A bomb in Kabul tore his body to shreds,
I dream still of terror and blood.’

‘Would you tell me this tale of your sorrow?’
Asks the woman whose baby has died.
So these two mothers share their tender despair
And no mustard seed can be gathered from there.’

Remembering, remembering,
remembering lament’s a song of love.

‘My brother burned in the Sari Club,’
A young man one street away tells her.
‘They’ve taught me to hate, all I want is revenge
And I’m scared they’re coming for me.’’

She says ‘Tell me of your love for your brother.’
Soon his anger is melting to tears.
The stranger’s advice is working its cure
But no mustard seed can she gather from there.

Remembering, remembering,
remembering rage is wounded love.

So it goes on through the homes of the suburb.
Not one mustard seed does she gather.
But sorrow and love and some songs of renewal
Are shared with the tale of her sweet baby’s death.

When three days are passed she looks at her babe
When three days are passed she buries her child
When three days are passed she can see some green life
In the place where the black ash had settled.

Remembering, remembering,
remembering winter becomes spring.

(Moist winds refresh the burnt land)
Shee, Shee, Shee

(Remembering renews the community)
Here by Molonglo waters, We’re gathering
We who remember, We who share the sorrow
We who share the bonds,
Forged in fires in death and love.

Here by Molonglo waters, The spirits sing
Kinship and caring,
Crying in the reeds
Sighing in the trees,
We remember … the wisdom of the heart

Words and music by Glenda Cloughley
Instrumental arrangements Judith Clingan (strings) and Johanna McBride (harp)
Composed for and first performed at a concert and ‘Ceremony of Memory’ held on 12 October 2003 at the National Museum of Australia to remember people in Canberra affected by such traumatic events as the Bali bombing of 12 October 2002, the Canberra fire storm of January 2003, and wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

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Call to Peace

Call … Call to peace,
Call … Call to peace
Call our brothers from our mothers,
Call … Call to peace.

Call our lovers,
Call our brothers,
Call our families, Call our enemies,
Let us all call to peace.

Call in your walking,
Call in your talking,
In your grieving, in your singing,
Always call, call to peace.

Call from the mountains,
Call from the rivers,
From the deserts, from the forests,
Always call, call to peace.

Call … Call to peace,
Call … Call to peace
Call our heart and call our happiness,
Call … Call to peace.

Call from the sun,
Call from the moon,
Call the stars out, call the wind out,
But call, call to peace.

Rise … Rise to peace,
Rise … Rise to peace,
In the evening, in the morning,
Let the world arise to peace.

Words and melody by Cordelia Dalton; arrangement by Ian Blake
First performance on 26 July 2003 at the Goulburn Peace Feast

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Children of Iraq

The eyes in the photo speak her pain and her fear,
No hope for her future as death hovers near.
Her mother sits helpless, not a thing can she do,
But to hold the hand of her child.

A young boy of eight leaves the hospital's care
No use staying on, no more medicine's there.
He'll die with his family, not a thing can they do,
But to hold the hand of their child.

The coalition weapons used twelve years ago
Made no distinction between friend and foe.
Depleted uranium poisoned the earth,
Bringing death to these innocent children.

And now war again has assaulted that land,
With the horrors repeated, I just can't understand
Why a boy's lost both arms, his entire family too,
Tell me how can we do this to children?

Words and Music by Jill Parliament
Arrangement by Johanna McBride
First performance 30 July 2003, The Street Theatre Midwinter Choral Festival

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Dear Earth

Dear Earth,
Living Earth,
Will you be our home?
We need to protect you,
Reconnect with you,
Deep in our bones
You are our home!

Precious Life,
Fragile lives,
All within the web,
We need to protect you,
Reconnect with you,
Deep in our souls
We are one whole!

Words Johanna McBride (verse 1) with Gill Christie (verse 2)
Music Johanna McBride, November 2006
First performance on 2 December 2006, at the 'For Love of the World' event at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra

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How to Tell

In the private night of my dark and frightened heart
Cries the ache of love for the faith my daughter knows
In how plants grow and rivers flow
'Keep this trust' she sings in me
'It holds the power of what we can be!'

How to tell my girl what the climate science shows?
How to grow some hope from what I learn from her
Of the human love that sings in me?
Who will sound this mother's prayer
For all that we could bring to be?

How to sound my prayer so it joins with yours and yours
In a swell, in a surge of a tide of change?
I'll cry the human love that sings in me
I'll sing my prayer in harmony
With all that we could bring to be

Words and music by Glenda Cloughley, dedicated to Dr. Nicky Grigg and her daughter Zoe
First performed at our Canberra Conversation 3 about the collaboration of science and the arts, as part of National Science Week, 23 August 2009

I Will Arise

With thanks to Martin Pearson for permission to sing his song and write some new lyrics

Now the night is growing long
And dreams of peace are gone.
Time to rise and show your light.
Time to stand for truth and for right

REFRAIN
I will arise,
I will arise to the daylight
To find that my heart can be strong,
I will arise

Loud the warlords’ bugles call,
Years of war for all!
We’re supposed to fight for peace.
Peace can only come when fights cease

REFRAIN
I will arise, ...

Rise all people from your sleep!
There are promises to keep.
No-one has to stand alone.
Human rights for all can be won

REFRAIN
I will arise, ...

Your voice is all you need to bring:
Please get up and sing!
Sing out loud into the world,
Rise with us and hope will be heard

REFRAIN
I will arise, ...

Music by Martin Pearson; words by Martin Pearson and numerous Chorus members
Arrangement by Johanna McBride
First performance on 30 July 2003 at the Street Theatre Midwinter Choral Festival in Canberra

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Lament

Open the doors of the chambers (of your hearts)
Open your minds to our song
We sing for peace through the power of love
Hear the wisdom of women, hear our song

Weep for our sisters in danger
Weep for our brothers and children
Sound the cries of grief and despair
Sound the lament for the dead.

Words by Glenda Cloughley with Judith Clingan
Music and arrangement by Judith Clingan
Inaugural performance 18 March 2003, Australian Parliament House

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Love Has a Voice

Every second week in March
We remember that love has a voice
That is mightier than war
Stronger than death
We sing it for your people and for you, Malalai.

For years ago in the second week of March
We gathered to sing in our Parliament
When we cried our lament for the people of Iraq
We didn't stop the war but our love found a voice.

Open the doors of the chambers of your hearts
Open your minds to our song
We sing for peace through the power of love
Hear the wisdom of women, hear our song.

Weep for our sisters in danger,
Weep for our brothers and children
Sound the cries of grief and despair
Sound the lament for the dead.

Open the doors of the chambers of your hearts...

Four years later Afghanistan burns
In the war on terror
Terror of the warlords
The fire is brutal
The shadows are dark
Yet you're not alone in this journey through the night.

You are not alone
We're travelling with you
We see your goal
We are walking beside you
Yes, the women are moving in Faroh and Kabul
And the women are moving in Canberra.

You are not alone
We're singing with you
We hear your voice
Hey, that's our song too
All around the earth the women are humming,
And the song of the Spring is rising.

If they hurt you, Malalai
They will not kill your voice
You're a song of the women in every place
They can cut the flower, but they can never stop the Spring
The buds are opening in our gardens too.

Every day in every year
We will remember our harmonies
Daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties
Calling up the voice of the Spring with you.

Every day in every year
We remember that love has a voice
That is mightier than war
Stronger than death
We sing it for your people and for you, Malalai.

Open the doors of the chambers of your hearts
Open your minds to our song
We sing for peace through the power of love
Hear the wisdom of women, hear our song.

Words and music by Glenda Cloughley, March 2007, and including 'Lament', words by Glenda Cloughley, music by Judith Clingan, March 2003. This song is a tribute to the strong forms of love that motivate the work of Malalai Joya and other women's rights activists in present day Afghanistan.

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Open as the Boundless Sky

Open as the boundless sky,
Letting go like a leaf from a tree.
Flowing as a deep river
From the still point of the world.
Ah––––––––––––––––––––.

Words by an unknown author discovered and set to music by Judith Clingan
First performed by Chorus on 12 October 2003, at the ‘New Songs for Remembering' concert, National Museum of Australia

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Planet We Share

Mourn, mourn
a planet in danger,
Mourn, mourn a planet we love,
Cry, cry our longing to save her,
Cry, cry for strength now to move
Love the earth, love its waters,
Cherish its soil and its air
Protect all its creatures
on this planet we all share

Listen, listen
to wise words of counsel,
Listen, listen to choices we face,
Strengthen, strengthen our will to take action,
Strengthen, strengthen our collective base,
Love the earth, love its people,
Help make the balance more fair,
Let good soil, air and water
be for all on this planet to share.

Rise up, rise up
all lovers of nature,
Rise up, rise up, all lovers of life,
Act now, act now to safeguard our future,
Act now, act now to ward off more grief,
We love Earth, she’s our mother,
Her despoiling we cannot bear.
We must act together
to save this dear planet we share.
Dare to care!

Words and music Judith Clingan, November 2006
First performance on 2 December 2006, at the 'For Love of the World' event at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra

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Songs to the Earth

LAMENT

Ooh, O Earth, Ooh, O Earth
Ooh, O Mother, Ooh, O Gaia

Sorrow in the dry wind
Longing cries in the soil and the streets
Rain does not fall and the land takes no seed
Where are the Songs of Life?

Our ancestors tell that when Earth’s child ––
Her beloved creation –– is stolen and raped
The bountiful Earth withers with grief
So rain does not fall and the land takes no seed

When the laws of harmony are broken
And discord shouts down the Songs of Life,
Hear the Earth, the ancestors teach,
Her lament is the start of renewal

Waiting and wailing
In the wells of grief
Dreaming of Gaia
And the Songs returning.

DREAMING

A slender goddess in gold
Has mounted the black-winged night of my dream
Riding the glossy sky
She is singing the way

Wail-away people
Wail-away
Wax again Gaia
And the tides will be a-turning

She sings to her sister, Earth
‘Are our mysteries still being kept?
Are your sparkling waters clear?
Are the forests still breathing tonight?’

And our mother, The Earth, cries back
That the trees have been taken away
And her lover The Sky is soiled
And the Songs of Love are silent

‘Shine light in the dreams of the people,’
Earth cries to her sister Moon
‘Fill their souls with sorrowing love for the world
Place the Songs of Life in their hearts’

Listen people! The Earth is singing
Gaia is dreaming still
Sing up the ancient hymn
And the tides will be a-turning

HYMN TO GAIA

Gaia, I will sing to the mother of all
Gaia, I will praise the source of all
Whoever is of the land and sea
The many who fly in the sky
Gaia, all are nourished from your wealth.

Gaia, out of your treasures come children and fruit
You grant birth and death ––– the law of life
Food-giving land, thriving herds,
Houses filled with good things,
Gaia, your kindly blessings give happiness.

Gaia, order and beauty spring from you
The city you honour enjoys good laws
The children play merry with fresh-budding joy
The maidens dance in the flowering fields
Greetings, mother of gods and wife of the starry sky
Gaia, I will remember you in another song

Words and music Glenda Cloughley, November 2006
Thanks to Jill Hayman of Canberra for translations of the ancient Greek Homeric Hymn to Demeter (c.800BCE), from which I drew for the lyric of the Lament, and The Homeric Hymn to Gaia (c.500BCE), which I adapted for the Hymn to Gaia.
First performance on 2 December 2006, at the 'For Love of the World' event at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra

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The Tree of Life

Spiritus sanctus vivificans vita movens omnia.
Spiritus sanctus

Holy spirit, spirit holy

Vivificans

Quickner, quickner, life giver, giver.

Movens omnia

You move all things, all things living.

You got a right, I got a right,
We all got a right to the tree of life.
You got a right, I got a right,
We all got a right to the tree of life.

Esperamus, Esperamus, Esperamus, Esperamus

Spiritus Sanctus words and melody from Hildegard of Bingen (twelfth century)
translated and arranged by Judith Clingan; Tree of Life words and melody from Afro-American song, arranged by Judith Clingan; Esperamus words and melody by Judith Clingan
First performance on 12 October 2003 at A Chorus of Women’s ‘New Songs for Remembering’ concert and ‘Ceremony of Memory’, National Museum of Australia

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Ubuntu

I am who I am because of you
We are who we are because of each other
Ubuntu, Ubuntu

Words and music by Johanna McBride
Ubuntu is a Zulu word and refers to an African philosophy which recognises the interconnectedness of all people and all things. This philosophy was used by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the healing and peace making process following the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa.
First performance on 15 May 2005 at the Australian Democrats National Conference at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra

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We Are the People

We are the people
So many different voices
Building a chorus, singing together we will be heard.

Seeking truth, calling for peace
Crying out in our public places
Adding our voice with so many others
Hearts full of love and a deep compassion.

We are the people…

We celebrate community life
Telling of courage and joy and friendship
Sounding our grief at the pain around us
Dreaming a future of hope renewed

We are the people…

Straight to the heart, let's all aim true
Thing with our hearts and we'll find good answers
Let us all sing of our hopes and fears
Let us together go straight to the heart

We are the people…

Refrain: words and melody by Johanna McBride
Verses: words by Meg Rigby and Judy Clingan, melody: Seikilos tune (First Century Greek)
First performance 30 October 2004, Theosophical Society, Sydney as part of ‘A Chorus of Women – Archaeomythic Memory and Present Desire', performed for Barbara Blackman's Temenos Foundation Lecture 2004

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Your Cry, Our Cry

Iraqi woman wailing
In the back of a battered old ute
Your husband dead at your feet
Your mouth is an open wound

REFRAIN

Aaah, Aaah
Oh I am trying to sing
Your song Our song
We are trying to sound
Your cry Our cry
We will sing till lament has turned
To the song of life again

Shamsiya Abad of Baghdad
I weep for your three dead sons
‘Where shall I go?' you are crying
‘I gave them the milk of my breasts'
Iraqi woman in labour
Your babe will be born tonight
We call with the voice of all mothers
For your child to know laughter and peace

Words and music by Glenda Cloughley
Arrangement by Johanna McBride
First performance 26 July 2003, Goulburn Peace Feast

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