“Bless Thou the Astronauts Who Face”

Go, Atlantis, go!Atlantis liftoff

At 7:38 pm (EDT) today the shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and made a safe, flawless, and beautiful ascent to space. Just a moment ago, at 9:23 pm (EDT), the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, gave Atlantis a ‘Go for orbital ops,’ meaning that all essential tasks to turn the shuttle from a rocket ship to a space ship had been successfully completed. After months of delays due to hail damage on the external tank, the ascent was picture perfect!

The launch today is the perfect backdrop for this interesting hymn I found a few days ago in the Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974). I have doubt any of us has ever heard this hymn or read the lyrics, but I find it is especially appropriate this evening as we continue to ask God’s blessing and care over our shuttle and station crews in the days ahead. (BTW, while the words are new to us, the tune for this hymn is familiar and is that for “The Navy Hymn” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” found here.)

Bless Thou the Astronauts Who Face

Bless Thou the astronauts who face
The vast immensities of space;
And may they know, in air, on land,
Thou holdest them within in thy hand.
O may the small step each doth take
Aid others giant leaps to make.

How excellent in all the earth
Thy name, O God, who gave it birth;
When first upon the moon man trod,
How excellent thy name, O God.
The heavens thy glory doth declare;
Where-e’re we are, Lo! thou are there.

We still upon thy laws depend
As our dominions thus extend,
While from the nations triumph rings
When we mount up with eagles’ wings.
Grant on each planet, far and near,
To all thy glory may appear.

Give all men, for all time to be,
The blessing of tranquility,
As galaxies and quasars share
The knowledge that our God is there!
May future aeons call to mind,
“We came in peace for all mankind.”

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