Peter Dodds McCormick

Peter Dodds McCormick (1834 – 1916) schoolteacher and songwriter
Peter Dodds McCormick arrived in Australia in 1855, having completed an apprenticeship in joinery. He soon became active in the musical life and the Presbyterian Church in Sydney and worked a great deal with children choirs. His works include “Advance, Australia, Fair” and “The Bonnie Banks of Clyde”.

Death notice, Peter Dodds McCormick, The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday, October 31, 1916:

The death occurred suddenly at his residence, Clydebank, Birrell-street, Waverley, yesterday of Mr. Peter Dodds McCormick, a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church and composer of “Advance, Australia Fair.”

The late Mr. McCormick was official precentor of the General Presbyterian Assembly of New South Wales and of the Commonwealth assembly. His last official appearance was at the opening of the Presbyterian Military Institution at Liverpool camp by the Governor-General a few days ago.

Deceased was for many years one of the Presbyterian instructors in the Public schools in connection with religious training, work in which he was particularly successful. He had been an elder of St. Andrew’s Church since 1880.

Mr. McCormick was born at Port Glasgow 83 years ago. After serving as a joiner for some years he decided to strike out for a new country, and landed in Sydney in 1855, resuming his trade as a joiner. A little later he gave up his trade, and enrolled as a teacher in the Education Department.

After 20 years spent in some of the principal schools Mr. McCormick decided to retire from the service. He then devoted himself to church work and the cultivation of music, especially Scottish music, among the younger folk. His principal life work was outside the schoolhouse.

Fifty years ago the United Presbyterian Church met in the Supreme Court House, and soon after his arrival Mr. McCormick joined the congregation as precentor, acting in that capacity till a church was erected on the site of the present St. Stephen’s. He worked hard to get a choir together, and when he succeeded the elder members of the congregation protested vigorously against the innovation.

Mr. McCormick persevered, and was ultimately rewarded by seeing choirs established in the majority of the churches. Outside the church choir work he had the honour of conducting some of the largest choirs which have sung in the Commonwealth. At the Raikes Sunday school centenary demonstration, in 1880, he conducted a choir of 10,000 children and 1000 teachers, in addition to an audience of 9000, making a total of 20,000 voices.

At the laying of the foundation-stone of the Queen’s statue he conducted a choir of 15,000 child voices. As a composer Mr. McCormick established a reputation with the patriotic song, “Advance Australia Fair”, which was first sung by Mr. Andrew Fairfax in 1878, and has come to be recognised as something in the nature of an Australian National Anthem. Another of his compositions which me with favour was “The Bonnie Banks of Clyde”.

In the early history of Scottish societies he took a prominent part. He joined St. Andrews Society shortly after its establishment in 1870. When the society was disbanded he, with others, established a Caledonian Society, and he continued prominently associated with that body till it was merged into the present Highland Society, of which he as a foundation member. He was also prominently associated with the Burns’ Club Section of the society, and also with the Burns’ Anniversary Choir, which he conducted for years.

Mr. McCormick in 1896 was one of the principal workers in originating the mission work which was begun in a private house at Dover Heights, an outlying part of the Waverley parish. A mission church was opened in 1903, the site being given by Sir Daniel Cooper

Source :

Refer also :

Advance Australia Fair :

“Advance Australia Fair” – Australia National anthem Vocal

A comparison of the Australian and New Zealand National Anthems
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