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Hymn for Spacefarers - by Sylvia Engdahl

Cathedral in the Sky

Painting courtesy of
Novagraphics Space Art

I wrote this poem in 1971 for submission to the compilers of a hymnal who were looking for material. It seemed to me then, during the Apollo era, that churches might want an appropriate hymn to sing at least at times when a space mission was in progress, if not to acknowledge the vital importance of space exploration to humanity's future. But it was never published. At the time of the Challenger disaster, I posted it on The Source, a national online system on which I was then active, but I don't know how widely it was disseminated.

Recently I came across it while cleaning out some files, and decided that it might be of interest someday, if and when public enthusiasm is aroused for space again. I hereby grant permission for it to be reproduced by any group that that wishes to use it, provided the copyright notice is included and my written permission is obtained for any form of commercial publication. (If you put it on a website, please include a link to this page.) Its meter fits a number of traditional hymn tunes.

Copyright 1971, 1986, 1997 by Sylvia Engdahl
Permission granted for noncommercial use; all other rights reserved

O God of all the universe,
By whom all worlds were formed, whose hand
Has shaped the boundless firmament,
Whose law bids galaxies expand:
Divine Creator, unseen source
Of infinite eternal light,
We view with awe thy great design
That set the stars within our sight.

O Holy Spirit, be our guide
As we pursue the endless way
That leads each generation on
To meet the challenge of its day.
As with our forebears in their task,
Be with us now as we of Earth
Turn outward to thy vaster realm
Beyond the planet of our birth.

Grant wisdom, courage, strength and skill
To all who venture into space:
From peril and adversity
Safeguard them with abiding grace;
Direct their course; illuminate
The dark and empty void that lies
Between the worlds, and give them power
To see thy cosmos with clear eyes.

Grant us steadfastness when some give
Their lives to fill our era's role;
Accept, O God, their sacrifice,
And make us worthy of its goal.
Let us not falter, thou who placed
That goal before us in Earth's youth:
Who has ordained that we should seek
New worlds, new mansions of thy truth.

For in the seeking we shall turn
From strife to a new unity
Born of our common heritage;
A single people we shall be.
Thus may we face thy universe,
And through its challenge may we find
The path, as one Terrestrial race,
To lasting peace for humankind.