The European phase of Australian history commenced with the establishment in 1788 of a penal settlement to which prisoners or convicts were transported from England, Ireland and Scotland to serve out their sentences. Little evidence concerning the singing of hymns in this settlement or elsewhere in the earliest years has survived, although it is clear that hymns were greatly treasured by individuals and groups. An early chronicler recorded that the first service in Melbourne was conducted outdoors in 1836. It included the singing of familiar psalm tunes led by the acting precentor, a Dr Thomson. Given the settlers’ origins, one may safely assume that such worship services...
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