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World record attempt: 195 anthems, 100 languages, two sisters, one day


Two young Christian sisters reflect on their plan to set an official world record, while simultaneously raising awareness of children’s and women’s empowerment and climate care, by singing the world’s 195 national and UN permanent member state anthems in 100 languages at St John’s Cathedral, as part of the Cathedral’s International Day of Peace celebrations on 21 September

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Eight years ago, we started learning the anthems of the 193 countries and two permanent observer states recognised by the United Nations in more than 100 languages. We were inspired to do this by our motivational film-maker father Joy K Mathew, who encourages us to pursue unique missions with vision and dedication. Our father has always supported us and the people that carry out missions aiming for world peace and a common humanity.

When we started to learn national anthems, Augnes was in Year 3 and Teresa was in Year 6. As well as learning the anthems, we spent seven hectic years researching the history and meaning of each national anthem. Japan has the shortest anthem and Greece has the longest.

We wake up at 5 o’clock every morning and spend the first two hours of our day studying and singing the anthems, before going to school and university. Augnes is completing Year 12 at Calamvale Community College and is also a member of the United Nations Association of Australia, Queensland Division. Teresa is studying a Bachelor of Psychology and Criminology at Griffith University, works as an assistant in nursing and volunteers for Earth Charter Australia.

When we started, our dad was the one who initially trained us before he arranged tutors from different countries to teach us the correct pronunciation of the words in each anthem via online lessons. We also compare our anthem singing to audio recordings to help perfect our pronunciation. We can now sing every anthem a capella style on cue.

We are the first to attempt to sing all of the world’s national anthems and we tell our story in our book, Inspiring Journey, which we hope to publish in different languages. We hope that our book will be made into a film to inspire others.

We see each anthem as a paean to its nation, to its people’s struggles and to their yearning for freedom and independence. By learning the anthems of the world’s nations, we have developed a clearer understanding of various nationalities and built up a bond of humanity with them. When we sing the national anthem of another country or state, we connect with the people of that country or state. A unique oneness is created and the listeners from that country or state usually shed tears and hug us. They see us as their own and they even tell others about us and stay in contact with us.

With the support of the United Nations Association of Australia Queensland Division, Just Peace and Earth Charter Australia, we intend to conduct a series of international events singing all the national anthems, including at St John’s Anglican Cathedral on Tuesday 21 September.

Judges from various World Record teams, including Universal Records, will be present. Some record organisations contacted us after hearing about the Cathedral event and others were contacted by us. We are going to sing the anthems at St John’s Cathedral according to the rules and instructions of the record teams. So, we are going to sing all of the world’s national and UN permanent member state anthems in 100 languages in approximately six hours, with a 10-minute break permitted every two hours.

Setting a world record is not actually our main intention. We are on a mission to sing the national anthem of every nation of the world to promote world peace, children’s safety, women’s empowerment, a common humanity and care for our common home and the climate. Funds raised through our various forthcoming events will be divided amongst charitable activities run by the United Nations.

Editor’s note: Augnes and Teresa will commence their world record attempt at 9.30 am at St John’s Cathedral on Tuesday 21 September.

The St John’s Cathedral annual International Day of Peace Lecture will be given by Admiral Chris Barrie (RAN, Ret.) on Tuesday 21 September from 7 pm, with The Rotary Peace Centre from the University of Queensland recognising the 2021 Agents of Peace at the event. You are invited to book your seat online or watch the livestreaming of the lecture on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel.

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