James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Martyr in Uganda, 1885
The fool has said in his heart,‘There is no God.’
Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness; there is no one that does good.
The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God. But every one has turned back; all alike have become corrupt: there is none that does good; no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as if they ate bread and do not call upon the Lord?
There shall they be in great fear; for God is in the company of the righteous. Though they would confound the counsel of the poor, yet the Lord shall be their refuge.
O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
Who may rest upon your holy hill?
Whoever leads an uncorrupt life and does the thing that is right; Who speaks the truth from the heart and bears no deceit on the tongue; Who does no evil to a friend and pours no scorn on a neighbour; In whose sight the wicked are not esteemed, but who honours those who fear the Lord.
Whoever has sworn to a neighbour and never goes back on that word; Who does not lend money in hope of gain, nor takes a bribe against the innocent;
Whoever does these things shall never fall.
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord, all my good depends on you.’ All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble in heart. Though the idols are legion that many run after, their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, neither make mention of their names upon my lips. The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; in your hands alone is my fortune.
My share has fallen in a fair land; indeed, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, and in the night watches he instructs my heart. I have set the Lord always before me; he is at my right hand; I shall not fall. Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my flesh also shall rest secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Death, nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit. You will show me the path of life; in your presence is the fullness of joy and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?
Again I saw all the oppressions that are practised under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person’s envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Fools fold their hands and consume their own flesh. Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil, and a chasing after wind.
Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. ‘For whom am I toiling’, they ask, ‘and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king, who will no longer take advice. One can indeed come out of prison to reign, even though born poor in the kingdom. I saw all the living who, moving about under the sun, follow that youth who replaced the king; there was no end to all those people whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’
Most merciful God, who strengthened your Church by the steadfast courage of your martyr James Hannington: grant that we also, thankfully remembering his victory of faith, may overcome what is evil and glorify your holy name; 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.