Singing the way

Uncle Nelson Varcoe shares his words through his gift music to invite us to join him in singing the way of Jesus.

Uncle Nelson Varcoe shares his words through his gift of music to invite us to join him in singing the way of Jesus.

Singing the way


It is good to give thanks to the Lord,

    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;

to declare your steadfast love in the morning,

    and your faithfulness by night,

to the music of the lute and the harp,

    to the melody of the lyre.

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;

    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

                                            Psalm 92:1-4 NRSV




For as long as I can remember, music has been part of my life. I grew up on Point Pearce Mission in South Australia and I was given my first guitar at the age of 12. I remember sitting around the campfire on hot summer nights with my family. We’d sing Gospel songs and my Uncles would be playing their guitars. My first guitar sadly got broken and so I had to make do with what I had and so I cobbled together a box shape and the surviving guitar neck and for the strings I managed to salvage some choke cables from an old T-Model Ford. I remember it sounded pretty good! Aboriginal peoples, well we are a resourceful mob!  

Today I play a number of instruments and have had the opportunity to sing and play at many special events including at the Festival Theatre, Adelaide, the Surrender Conference, The Grasstree Gathering, local interstate ecumenical gatherings, SA Uniting Church Synod and Presbytery meetings, and when I was a pastor and worship leader at Adelaide Congress Ministry. I’ll let you in on a secret - you might even see me on your screen for #ChangeTheHeart 2022.  

Last year, I got to release my book, “Gift of Music”.  My book contains 25 of my songs that I have written, and it comes with a CD as well! Each of my songs express praise, longing, and reflections and are referenced to a relevant Bible verse. My song ‘Gift of Music’, which is also the book’s title, is actually inspired by Psalm 92:1-4.  As the opening lines of my song ‘Gift of Music’ say, 

                               “Thank you Lord, for this lovely gift of music, 

                               and making me feel good with this guitar in my hand.

                               Thank you, Holy Ghost for showin’ me how to play it,

                               for You are the rhythm in my body, feet and hands.”

The song goes on to say, “and the meaning of the song is the light in me is shining.”


And from the light of the campfire on those nights as a young fella with my family on the mission, to the light of each new morning, to the light of Jesus shining in me and you, I will go on singing praises and thanking our Lord.  Will you join me?  Together let’s be singing the way of Jesus. 


Uncle Nelson Varcoe is an Aboriginal Christian Leader, singer, songwriter, artist, pastor, and educator, whose family is from Ngarrindjeri Country (Raukkan), who grew up on Point Pearce Mission on Narrunga Country (Yorke Peninsula), and who lives on Kaurna Country (Adelaide).  Uncle Nelson’s artwork appears in “Our Mob, God’s Story” and hangs in the Adelaide College of Divinity.  Uncle Nelson has been singing and composing since he was 12 years old.


“I pray for all Australians, the cities and states.

I pray we overcome this ethnical hate.

I pray for all us people, to live as one. 

I pray this land ‘down under’ be a spiritual one.”


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The words of this prayer are from Uncle Nelson’s song ‘Hallelujah’ in his book “Gift of Music: God-Inspired songs” (2020).*



Photograph: John Englezos, Sunset, Wurundjeri Country, East Doncaster, VIC

Visual Description: A deep pink sunset over the silhouettes of trees in the distance.



* Uncle Nelson Varcoe's “Gift of Music” (book and CD) available from Mission Resourcing at UCA SA, for $29.95 (plus $10 for postage and packaging). Email: [email protected] Ph: 08 8236 4200. Payment is by credit card, direct deposit, cheque or cash




This devotional is part of a series of daily email devotionals for Advent 2021. This year's series reflects on the opportunity we have this Advent to step into a new day with the expectant hope of the birth of Jesus. Would you like to receive the rest of this email series?

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