The Vanity of Vanities: Choral Symphony after Ecclesiastes (1913)


Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher,
Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labour
Which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away,
And another generation cometh:
But the earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down,
And hasteth to his place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south,
And turneth about unto the north;
It whirleth about continually,
And the wind returneth again
According to his circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea;
Yet the sea is not full:
Unto the place from whence the rivers come,
Thither they return again.
All things are full of labour;
Man cannot utter it:
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be;
And that which is done
Is that which shall be done:
And there is no new thing under the sun.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said,
See, this is new?
It hath been already of old time,
Which was before us.
There is no remembrance of former things;
Neither shall there be any remembrance
Of things that are to come
With those that shall come after.
Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.


I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

I made me great works;
I builded me houses;
I planted me vineyards:
I got me servants and maidens,
I gathered me also silver and gold,
And the peculiar treasure of kings:
I gat me men singers and women singers,
And the delights of the sons of men.
And whatsoever mine eyes desired
I kept not from them,
I withheld not my heart from any joy;
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor:

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.


Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness;

And I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool. Therefore I hated life; yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: for what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.


To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to cast away;
A time to rend, 
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.


I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time:

As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known anything. As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand. For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?


Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

Truly the light is sweet,
And a pleasant thing it is
For the eyes to behold the sun:
But if a man live many years,
And rejoice in them all;
Yet let him remember the days of darkness;
For they shall be many.
All that cometh is vanity.


Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth;
And let thy heart cheer thee
Tn the days of thy youth,
And walk in the ways of thine heart,
And in the sight of thine eyes:
But know thou, that for all these things
God will bring thee into judgment.
Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart,
And put away evil from thy flesh:
For childhood and youth are vanity.
Remember now thy Creator
In the days of thy youth,
While the evil days come not,
Nor the years draw nigh,
When thou shalt say,
I have no pleasure in them;
While the sun, or the light, or the moon,
Or the stars, be not darkened,
Nor the clouds return after the rain:
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,
And the strong men shall bow themselves,
And the grinders cease
Because they are few,
And those that look out of the windows
Be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets,
When the sound of the grinding is low,
And he shall rise up at the voice of the bird,
And all the daughters of musick
Shall be brought low;
Also when they shall be afraid
Of that which is high,
And fears shall be in the way,
And the almond-tree shall flourish,
And the grasshopper shall be a burden,
And desire shall fail:
Because man goeth to his long home,
And the mourners go about the streets:
Or ever the silver cord be loosed,
Or the golden bowl be broken,
Or the pitcher be broken at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth
As it was:
And the spirit shall return
Unto God who gave it.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher;
All is vanity.