The Sayings of the Wise, commissioned by the New York Treble Singers, Virginia Davidson, conductor, is a treble choir concert suite in six movements on texts from Proverbs and poetry by Frederick William Faber. The last movement is dedicated to a dear friend and member of the choir. At the time of composition she was facing the death of her husband, and this text from Proverbs moved us greatly as she mustered the strength to carry on while raising her family.
1. Importance of Paying Attention (Proverbs 22:17:21)
Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;
apply your heart to what I teach,
for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart.
That your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you.
Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
sayings of counsel and knowledge,
teaching you true and reliable words,
so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?
Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise!
2. Kindness (Proverbs 16:24)
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul, and healing to the bones.
3. Majesty Divine! [From the poem entitled “Majesty Divine!” By Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)]
Full of glory, full of wonders,
Mid thine everlasting thunders
How Thy lightnings shine!
Shoreless ocean! Who shall sound thee?
Thine eternity is round Thee,
Majesty divine! Majesty divine!
Thine own self forever filling
With self-kindled flame,
In Thyself thou art distilling
unctions without name!
Without worshiping of creatures
Without veiling of Thy features,
God always the same!
'Mid Thine uncreated morning,
Like a trembling star
I behold creation's dawning
Glimmering from afar;
Nothing giving, nothing taking,
Nothing changing, nothing breaking
Waiting at time's bar!
Splendours upon splendours beaming
Change and intertwine;
Glories over glories streaming
All translucent shine! All translucent shine!
[From the poem entitled “The Vision of Godhead” by Frederick William Faber]
Myriad, myriad angels raise
Happy hymns of wond'ring praise,
Ever through eternal days.
4. On the Use of Alcohol (Proverbs 23:29-35)
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has bloodshot eyes?
Those who linger over wine.
Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup.
In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.
You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
Lying on top of the rigging.
“They hit me, but I am not hurt.
They beat me, but I don't feel it.”
Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises?
Those who linger over wine!
5. Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge (Proverbs 24:3-4)
By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
6. A Tribute to Cynthia (Proverbs 31:10-12,17,20,25,26,28)
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
She speaks with wisdom.
She is clothed with strength and dignity.
Her children arise and call her blessed.
Bless her, praise her.