Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, Scholar, 899
Cedd, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of the East Saxons, 664
Blessed are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the assembly of the scornful. Their delight is in the law of the Lord and they meditate on his law day and night. Like a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither, whatever they do, it shall prosper.
As for the wicked, it is not so with them; they are like chaff which the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked shall not be able to stand in the judgement, nor the sinner in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish.
Why are the nations in tumult, and why do the peoples devise a vain plot?
The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed: ‘Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us.’
He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury: ‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord; he said to me: ‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
Now therefore be wise, O kings; be prudent, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry and you perish from the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all they who take refuge in him.
Lord, how many are my adversaries; many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say to my soul, ‘There is no help for you in your God.’
But you, Lord, are a shield about me; you are my glory, and the lifter up of my head. When I cry aloud to the Lord, he will answer me from his holy hill; I lie down and sleep and rise again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of hordes of the peoples that have set themselves against me all around.
Rise up, O Lord, and deliver me, O my God, for you strike all my enemies on the cheek and break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord: may your blessing be upon your people.
The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains for ever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south, and goes round to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow. All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been, in the ages before us. The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them.
I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.
I said to myself, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.’ And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.
For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
God, our maker and redeemer, we pray you of your great mercy and by the power of your holy cross
to guide us by your will and to shield us from our foes: that, after the example of your servant Alfred, we may inwardly love you above all things; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.