The Prayers are first mentioned in Threlkeld’s Reminiscences:
An excellent selection of prayers, and passages from holy writ, by the Archdeacon, is also awaiting a similar correction. The date at the end of prayers manuscript is 4 August 1834.


There are THREE source documents for the prayers.

1.Threlkeld’s original MS, in Awabakal.
2.Threlkeld’s original corresponding MS, in English.
3.The prayers were published about 60 years after Threlkeld completed them, in 1892, in the
following work:

Threlkeld, L. E. (1892). An Australian language as spoken by the Awabakal, the people of Awaba or
Lake Macquarie (near Newcastle, New South Wales) being an account of their language, traditions
and customs / by L.E. Threlkeld; re-arranged, condensed and edited with an appendix by John
Fraser. Sydney, Charles Potter, Government Printer.


Let this be called ‘Fraser 1892’.

There are 52 items, whether fragments or extended passages,

that may for simplicity be called ‘prayers’. They were examined in
the order they occurred in the Fraser 1892. There are more prayers

in Fraser 1892 than in the original prayers manuscript.
The prayers are grouped under the Awabakal headings for

‘Morning Prayer’ and ‘Evening Prayer’, and there is one additional

useful heading: ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Otherwise the prayers are all

In the English version, ‘Morning’ and ‘Evening’ are again given

as headings, together with ‘Ten Commandments’; the remainder

are unidentified. For the first 35 prayers occurring in Fraser 1892,

it was possible to match these to equivalents in the English

manuscript, and/or with the help of the internet to match most of

the prayers to source prayers, found largely in the Anglican Book of
Common Prayer.

In the 36-52 collection, a number were found to be near repetitions

of texts in 1–36, while others upon being translated, could be
perceived to be also from the Book of Common Prayer, or, thanks to

the internet as a searching device, Biblical quotations.

After each such success it was possible to replace the tentative

translation with the correct one, in the idiom of the King James
version of the Bible. However, it was not possible to find original

sources for prayers 36–39 and 49–52. The process followed was, as

for Prayer 50, to attempt an analytical translation, yielding:


§ father us-all-of sky-at high-at hear-URG-make-IMP! thou me
§ anger-do-now-not thou me thee-of-because son-because  JESUS-because

§ see-be-IMP!-not thou me all bad make-ing AFFirm big me-of

An attempt wold then be made to render it into a Biblical idiom, as:
Our father in heaven above, hear me

do not be angry with me, through thy son Jesus

look not upon all my great wickedness


and then to see if an internet search might chance to yield a result.
Perhaps someone else, possibly with a knowledge of Non-Conformist prayers, might succeed in identifying the origin al sources of these remaining eight mystery prayers.

Jeremy Steele Wednesday 2 December 2020

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Aboriginal Languages of Australia
Words from the Sydney Aboriginal Language Biyal Biyal
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