Here are the words of a song we’ve been learning recently at the Bangor Community Choir:
When there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person.
When there is beauty in the person, there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home, there is honour in the nation.
When there is honour in the nation, there is peace in the world.
We were told that it’s based on a Chinese proverb, so of course I searched for that proverb and found the following:
明明德於天下者，先治其國。(míngmíng dé yú tiānxià zhĕ, xiān zhì qí guó)
欲治其國者，先齊其家。(yù zhì qí guó zhĕ, xiān qí qí jiā)
欲齊其家者，先修其身。(yù qí qí jiā zhĕ, xiān xiū qí shēn)
欲修其身者，先正其心。(yù xiū qí shēn zhĕ, xiān zhēng qí xīn)
This expresses more of less same sentiments, though they are the opposite way round: it starts taking about the world, then the nation, the home, etc.
Here’s a rough translation:
Those who wish to bring light and virtue to the world, must first govern the nation.
Those who wish to govern the nation, must first organise the home.
Those who wish to organise the home, must first cultivate themselves.
Those who wish to cultivate themselves, must first correct their heart.
Does anybody know where this proverb comes from, by the way?
The way things are arranged in Chinese often seems backwards from the point of view of English speakers. For example, surnames come before personal names, and addresses start from the country or province, rather than with the name.
When speaking (Mandarin) Chinese I try to think in Chinese, but words sometimes come out in English, Welsh or French order, which doesn’t necessarily work very well. This is mainly because I haven’t been using Chinese as much as I used to, so am not as practised at constructing Chinese sentences. I can still communicate effectively in Chinese, but have to rearrange some of the utterances either in my head or after I’ve said them. More practise should help to eliminate this problem.