First Nations version of 'The Blessing'

An Australian First Nations People version of “The Blessing” video has been released in the lead up to January 26.

The video was put together by Indigenous Ministries Australia (IMA), in collaboration with First Nations Peoples and churches from across Australia.

Like the “Blessing” videos that went viral during the COVID lockdown season, the video draws together First Nations Christians from different denominations and different language groups to sing in their language, as well as in English. The song was. written by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and Elevation Worship.

The idea for the video came about at the Our Country Speaks Indigenous Film and Language Festival, held during NAIDOC Week in November 2020 in Perth – in conjunction with Bible Society Australia, Surrender Co. and local churches.

“We had a number of films celebrating the lives of Indigenous Christian leaders, some of who feature on [“The Blessing”] video. We wanted to continue to keep those stories going, and we felt like this song was a really great way to do that,” explains Colin Battersby, WA partnership coordinator of Global Mission Partners, which runs IMA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were invited to contribute to “The Blessing” video by recording themselves or their communities singing sections of the song in English or in their heart language. The language groups represented include Nyoongar, Ngadju, Nyiyaparli, Pitjantjatjara and Martu, among others.

“A lot of the submissions were from Western Australia, where a key focus of our ministry is based. But we had two from the Northern Territory and also South Australia. Then [from WA] we had a number from Perth and Bunbury, Port Hedland (Pilbara), down in Esperance and then right across to Norseman,” Battersby tells Eternity.

“It is important that we share our culture and language with future generations. It is something that all of Australia should be proud of.” – Dena Gower

Whadjuk Noongar Yorga woman Dena Gower, from Ngaama Ministries, says about the video: “It has been very special to have some of Australia’s First Nation languages come together and share ‘The Blessing’ with the rest of Australia. A project like this helps to bring our traditional languages alive and for others to hear the sweet sound of God’s love through language and the voices of Australia’s First Peoples.

“It is important that we share our culture and language with future generations. It is something that all of Australia should be proud of. It is a gift to this nation. IMA has a heart for projects like this, and it is wonderful to see the faces and hear the voices of many of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters from across this land.”

The collated, final version of the video was released on the Our Country Speaks Facebook page to coincide with Aboriginal Sunday, January 24. The words in the accompanying post read: “An ancient blessing sung and spoken over an ancient land, we now call Australia (Numbers 6: 24-26). Featuring just some of the many languages belonging to the oldest living, continuous culture on earth.”

Battersby explains that originally they had hoped to release the video last December, following the release of the Australian version in June. However, he notes the significance of the timing of its release on Aboriginal Sunday.

“It’s really important that us non-Indigenous Australians make room for Indigenous voices, particularly at this time of year … So I felt one way that we can amplify those voices is through a worship song, such as ‘The Blessing’ …

“To have that blessing in [First Nations] language is a real gift for Australia, to have those First Nations voices praying that prayer over us.

“Hopefully that will be able to continue to bring us closer together and not further apart.”

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