Sunday, November 08, 2015

Travelling To Freedom

I was blest to have parents with a love of music. Not only did we have plenty of music to listen to on old 33s, I also had opportunities because of my Catholic schooling to sing in choirs. Quite a bit of my life has been spent  "Singing My Way Through Catholicism"

The first choir I sang with was at St Patrick's Primary School in Geelong West, Victoria, Australia where we had a regular Sunday gig at Ss Peter and Paul's Church. Our organist was a young Roger Heagney who would go on to become one of Australia's leading organ and Harpsichord players.

The usual hymn book of the era was the Living Parish Hymn Book, a classic in Catholic Parishes before Glory and Praise, As One Voice, and Gather landed on the pews.

Rumblings of change were evident in the 60s not only in rock music and protest music but also in the choir lofts of parishes.In 1971 one of the authors of the Living Parish Hymnal, Tony Newman together with Peter Stone published Travelling to Freedom which was promoted as a song book not a hymn book.

By this time the wings of change had taken me in full flight and unlike the Living Parish Hymnal I now had a collection of religious and popular music with enough chords supplied to keep me singing for a lifetime.

Travelling to Freedom had all the elements of 70s publication. The text ran across, over and circular, the pages were done with different layout and even challenging colours that swallowed the chords and lyrics.It's contents included some of the familiar lyrics from the LPH alongside the new words of Bob Dylan,Malvina Reynolds, Peter Kearney, Pete Seeger and even the Beatles.In a wise move the editors left out Lennon's Imagine and gave us Eleanor Rigby. These were the days before the Catholic Bishops published their preferred list of recommended hymns and songs.

This was more than a songbook and it has been a faithful companion now for over 40 years. It is also a manual of quotes to inspire and challenge. There are the great voices from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures alongside MLK. Bonhoeffer, J.H Newman, Erik Erikson, JFK and lots of other men.. As a product of its time only a few women's voices were included. Even the list of thanks for the publication only has 4 women noted out of 46 names.But as the song on page 156 reminds us, The times they are a changin'..

Travelling to Freedom deserves a tribute page as it hardly features in search engines and its contribution to religious and popular music in catholic circles has largely been neglected.

You can borrow copies here.

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