Why should I fear in evil days, With snares encompassed all around? What trust can transient treasures raise For them in riches who abound? His brother who from death can save? What wealth can ransom him from God? What mine of gold defraud the grave? What hoards but vanish at His nod?
To live forever is their dream; Their houses by their name they call; While, borne by time’s relentless stream, Around them wise and foolish fall; Their riches others must divide; They plant, but others reap the fruit; In honor man cannot abide, To death devoted, like the brute.
This is their folly, this their way; And yet in this their sons delight; Like sheep, of death the destined prey, The future scorn of the upright; The grave their beauty shall consume, Their dwellings never see them more; But God shall raise me from the tomb, And life for endless time restore.
What though thy foe in wealth increase, And fame and glory crown his head? Fear not, for all at death shall cease, Nor fame, nor glory, crown the dead: While prosp’ring all around thee smiled, Yet to the grave shalt thou descend; The senseless pride of fortune’s child Shall share the brute creation’s end.
Dust to dust, the mortal dies, Both the foolish and the wise; None forever can remain, Each must leave his hoarded gain. Yet within their heart they say That their houses are for aye, That their dwelling places grand Shall for generations stand.
To their lands they give their name In the hope of lasting fame, But man’s honor quickly flies, Like the lowly beast he dies. Though such folly mark their way, Men approve of what they say; Death their shepherd, they the sheep, He within his fold will keep.
O’er them soon shall rule the just, All their beauty turn to dust; God my waiting soul shall save, He will raise me from the grave. Let no fear disturb your peace Though one’s house and wealth increase; Death shall end his fleeting day, He shall carry naught away.
Though in life he wealth attained, Though the praise of men he gained, He shall join those gone before, Where the light shall shine no more. Crowned with honor though he be, Highly gifted, strong and free, If he be not truly wise, Man is like the beast that dies.