Psalm 49: Rich and poor together

‘High degree and low, rich and poor together’ (2)

Psalm 107 concludes by urging some deep thought in seeking guidance: Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of God. (107:43)

Psalm 49 invites the same, but to music: The meditation of my heart shall be understanding. I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp (3, 4)

The song continues with a reminder that all people, of estate high or low, are equal and subject to mortality. Riches, pomp, status and wealth count for nothing. Giving heed to these things, solving this riddle with or without the harp will surely lead to a conclusion that people should be treated equally and with love while, as the Dalai Lama says, we are visiting this planet.


Few classical settings appear for either of these psalms. Our more modern psalters similarly have few good antiphonal settings available; PFAS 107C is actually a repeat of one by Everett from TEP, telling us we can’t take it with us. A good way to consider this psalm in depth would be to write your own tune. You may have to imagine the harp. Or as the psalmists often say (see comments on 150 for example), find any stringed instrument, trumpet, cymbal, timbrel or tambourine — whatever is to hand.

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