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Friday, September 13, 2013

Science Fiction Hymns

I read a lot of science fiction – the fact that my son is named “Dune” probably gives that away.  I also like singing hymns. In fact, I have eleven different hymnals from various denominations and I like digging through them to find forgotten melodies. So then, when I discover two different hymns that have some science fiction themes, I sit up and take notice.

The melody in both cases is the English folk song Dives and Lazarus - arranged by composer Vaughan Williams as the hymn tune Kingsfold.  (It’s also the melody of The Star of the County Down and many, many other songs.  That melody certainly gets around.)

The first is a hymn from The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints – If You Could Hie to Kolob.

If you could hie to Kolob
In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward
With that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever,
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where Gods began to be?

According to LDS teaching, Kolob is the star (or planet) nearest to the actual physical throne of God, located somewhere within this physical universe.  

The second hymn, And Have the Bright Immensities by Howard C. Robbins, draws its inspiration from the more canonical book of Job.  (Job 9: 1 – 12)

And have the bright immensities
received our risen Lord
where light-years frame the Pleiades
and point Orion’s sword?
Do flaming suns his footsteps trace
through corridors sublime,
the Lord of interstellar space
and conqueror of time?

The heav’n that hides him from our sight
knows neither near nor far;
an altar candle sheds its light
as surely as a star.
And where his loving people meet
to share the gift divine,
there stands he with unhurrying feet;
there heav’nly splendors shine.

I couldn’t find a recording of this these words being sung, so here’s an instrumental recording, and you can sing along with it.

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