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We Have the Word “Girt” in our National Anthem

On this day, in 1984 we elected Advance Australia Fair to be our national anthem.


Because we really didn’t want to keep singing God Save the Queen.

The move to change the national anthem began in the early 1820s. Australia wanted a unique sound, one separate from the British Empire. The search for an ‘Australian sound’ began with numerous competitions and public canvassing until Peter Dodd’s McCormick’s Advance Australia Fair was crowned our national anthem by the Governor General- 160 years after other options were suggested.

McCormick’s song was first performed in 1878 at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia by a choir of 10,000.

Earlier nominations included

Australian Anthem and an Australian Hymn by John Drummoyne Lang in 1826
Song of Australia by Carl Linger in 1860

Linger’s Song of Australia was a crowd favourite and was shortlisted as a possibility 117 years later.

The issue of the anthem remained a hot topic for decades. The Australian Broadcasting Commission even held two competitions without anything officially being chosen.

It wasn’t until 1974 after a public opinion poll that three choices were offered up for choice:

Advance Australia Fair
• Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda
• Linger’s Song of Australia

Advance Australia Fair polled 51.1 per cent, prompting Prime Minister Gogh Whitlam to declare it our National Anthem.

Clearly, not everyone was happy with the choice, and a national poll was conducted again in 1977. Advance Australia Fair again remaining on top.

Although we Australians know what our real national anthem is…

Waltzing Matilda is widely recognised as our unofficial anthem. The song speaks of our everyday language: informal, jovial and simple with an upbeat, folksy melody.

In contrast, our official anthem is stiff, rigid and formal. For example the word: “girt” features in it.

Does any Australian ever use that word?

Regardless, Australians discovered their sound and we as a nation can either waltz like Matilda or Advance Australia Fair.

National Anthem

Australians all let us rejoice, 

For we are young and free;

We've golden soil and wealth for toil;

Our home is girt by sea;

Our land abounds in nature's gifts

Of beauty rich and rare;

In history's page, let every stage

Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,

Advance Australia Fair.

(Mysterious second verse)

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross

We'll toil with hearts and hands;

To make this Commonwealth of ours

Renowned of all the lands;

  For those who've come across the seas 

We've boundless plains to share;

With courage let us all combine

To Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,

Advance Australia Fair.


Image: Wikimedia commons

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