Commissioned by Jane Edwards with funds provided by a composer fellowship from the Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts
First performance by Jane Edwards (soprano) and David Miller (piano), Manly Council Chambers, Sydney, 14 September 2008
Performance by Jane Edwards (soprano), Arabella Teniswood-Harvey (piano)
- Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman?
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31, v. 10 – 12
- The Poor Man’s Child
Oh those idiot men,
Stupid, useless boys,
They should fetch the poor man’s child
From the drafty loft,
Behind the broken gate,
Across the fallen fence!
A poor man’s child does all the work,
Spins all the wool,
Weaves all the cloth,
She nurses all the children.
A rich man’s girl is busy too
Braiding her hair,
Painting her face,
Then nodding off,
And falling fast asleep.
Kanteletar No. 62
- Looking for Wool
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household.
Proverbs 31, vv. 13 – 14, 16, 21
- When Snow Is on the Landscape
Begin with the sky. Don’t worry or grow anxious when you lay on the leaden sky-colour. Let your chief care be to prevent the brush leaving marks where your sky is broken by a snow-laden branch. Such brush marks suggest that you have worked too slowly. But, above all, don’t worry; if it goes seriously wrong, correct it when you get home.
The Girl’s Own Annual (1919)
- Singing Keeps You Lazy
I’m warning you, young girls,
I’m giving you advice:
Don’t you sing your songs too often,
Sing too much or laugh too often;
Singing always keeps you lazy,
Humming songs will slow your work.
You will hear no shoes clip-clopping,
You will hear no carriage wheels,
No young men will come to visit,
To the lazy maiden’s house.
Robbers will come to your yard,
Evil rascals will come by,
They will take the singing child,
They’ll seduce the humming girl,
Into a life of constant weeping,
Endless months of pointless mourning,
By the fires of a useless husband,
By the stove of the penniless.
I also sang myself a man,
I too hummed myself a husband.
There was nobody to warn me,
There was no one to prevent me,
Nobody who might have taught me,
No one with this sage advice:
“Don’t you sing, you silly girl!
Hold your tongue, you mindless child!
Or you’ll get a crazy man,
A foolish husband by your side,
Keeping you in constant sorrow,
All your days in useless longing.”
Kanteletar No. 212
- A Spiritual Tonic for Mothers
Even happy mothers, glad in their children, making every renunciation heartily, and finding even their cares rewardful, must sometimes realise that, in a certain sense, in their special and continuous responsibilities and baffling problems, they are alone.
The Girl’s Own Annual (1919)
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Proverbs 31, vv. 26 – 29
- I Will Grind the Finest Flour
I will grind the finest flour,
And I will bake the finest pie.
I’ll put the pie upon a dish,
And I’ll put a cloth upon the pie.
I’ll take the pie dish to the boat.
I’ll push the boat into the lake.
And then I’ll row and row and row,
Row the boat right to the island,
Look at all the island’s bridegrooms,
See who are the red-cheeked boys,
Check which have the cleanest faces,
Which have sturdy, handsome figures,
Which have got the bluest eyes,
Which a truly golden brow.
Then I’ll ask the boys to join me,
Blue-eyed boys to try my wares,
Golden brows to taste my baking,
Clean-faced boys to eat my pie.
Kanteletar No. 136
- White soup
Peel and cut in slices four large potatoes, put them to boil in three pints of water and a saltspoon of salt. When boiling, add two onions in slices, a slice of white bread, six peppercorns and a blade of mace. When tender rub through a sieve, and return to the saucepan with one pint of milk and two tablespoons of sago. Boil again ten minutes, stirring frequently.
The Girl’ Own Annual (1919)
Kanteletar songs translated from the Finnish by Anni Heino and Andrew Ford