1 Hear this, all you peoples;
hearken, all you who dwell in the world, *
you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
2 My mouth shall speak of wisdom, *
and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
3 I will incline my ear to a proverb *
and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
4 Why should I be afraid in evil days, *
when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
5 The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, *
and boast of their great riches?
6 We can never ransom ourselves, *
or deliver to God the price of our life;
7 For the ransom of our life is so great, *
that we should never have enough to pay it,
8 In order to live for ever and ever, *
and never see the grave.
9 For we see that the wise die also;
like the dull and stupid they perish *
and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
10 Their graves shall be their homes for ever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation, *
though they call the lands after their own names.
11 Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; *
they are like the beasts that perish.
12 Such is the way of those who foolishly trust in themselves, *
and the end of those who delight in their own words.
13 Like a flock of sheep they are destined to die;
Death is their shepherd; *
they go down straightway to the grave.
14 Their form shall waste away, *
and the land of the dead shall be their home.
15 But God will ransom my life; *
he will snatch me from the grasp of death.
16 Do not be envious when some become rich, *
or when the grandeur of their house increases;
17 For they will carry nothing away at their death, *
nor will their grandeur follow them.
18 Though they thought highly of themselves while they lived, *
and were praised for their success,
19 They shall join the company of their forebears, *
who will never see the light again.
20 Those who are honored, but have no understanding, *
are like the beasts that perish.
A Collect for Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Image Credit: Female musician with harp, late 7th century, China
Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access Collection – https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/44804