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The Song Keepers

Wir danken Gerda und Les Forster für diesen schönen Bericht und all ihre Mitarbeit.  Ohne sie wären unsere Gottesdienste an der Central Coast nicht möglich.

Having seen the trailer of The Song Keepers we were keen to see the movie. After a little research we discovered that on Sunday, the 29th of April, it was still showing in Newtown. As we were attending the Church service in the Martin Luther Church in Goulburn Street followed by the AGM, we thought we make the most of the day as we had come from the Central Coast. The movie started at 3:30pm, which was enough time for us to get there.

A 140-year musical legacy of ancient Aboriginal languages, German sacred hymns are being preserved by four generations of women that make up the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir under director Morris Stuart

The choir sings in the Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara languages.  Lutheran missionaries translated 53 German hymns within three years of arriving in the outback in 1877.  Under Pastor Carl Strehlow, those hymns were sung by choirs right up to the 1970s. But when their men drifted into country music, the choirs became women-only and then began to dwindle.

In The Song Keepers a number of the women tell their stories. One of the woman says that she lived with, and was greatly helped by, her pastor from the local mission and his family as a young woman, when she was rejected by her tribe.

Another of the women sums up the complexity of their dual inheritance, when she says, in The Song Keepers, “My culture and my faith, I believe in both ways, and it makes me stronger.”

Through singing and listening to the hymns, many indigenous people first heard the Gospel and learned about the Christian faith. Many of the ladies live in difficult, isolated circumstances and have limited opportunities. However, through music they can share their faith to all generations.

In 2015 the Choir traveled to Germany to take the hymns back. Singing in Neuendettelsau, Nördlingen and Stuttgart, and there was a meeting with the great-grandson of Pastor Carl Strehlow.

Song Keepers during their visit to Germany

The choirs last song was “Danket, danket dem Herrn” in Pitjantjatjara and it received a standing ovation. They then invited the whole church to sing it with them in German. This reminded us of our services in Gosford, where we sing it every time before we enjoy our refreshments.

Der Film kann in verschiedenen Kinos in ganz Australien angesehen werden.

(Foto mit freundlicher Genehmiging von Potential Films)


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