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“Every star shall sing a carol”

2014 March 18
by Gordon Reid


The songwriter, Sydney Carter, has died at the age of 89. He is probably best known for his carol “Lord of the dance”, but I think his most profound is “Every star shall sing a carol”. Here it is:

“Every star shall sing a carol, Every creature, high or low, Come and praise the King of heaven, By whatever name you know. God above, Man below, Holy is the name I know.

When the King of all creation Had a cradle on the earth, Holy was the human body, Holy was the human birth. God above…

Who can tell what other cradle, high above the Milky Way, Still may rock the King of heaven On another Christmas Day? God above…

Who can count how many crosses Still to come, or long ago, Crucify the King of heaven? Holy is the name I know. God above…

Who can tell what other body He will hallow for his own? I will praise the son of Mary, Brother of my blood and bone. God above…

Every star and every planet, Every creature high or low, Come and praise the King of heaven, By whatever name you know. God above…”

Carter was closest to the Quaker form of Christianity, but the following poem, containing remarkably similar speculation, is by Alice Maynell, a Roman Catholic. I quote from “Christ in the Universe”

“Nor in our little day,   May his devices with the heavens be guessed,   His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way,   Or his bestowals there be manifest.

But in the eternities,   Doubtless we shall compare together, hear   A million alien gospels, in what guise   He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O be prepared, my soul!   To read the inconceivable, to scan   The million forms of God those stars unroll   When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.”

After meditations such as these, one can only respond in awe and wonder “How great thou art!”.


2 Responses leave one →
  1. March 18, 2014

    We sang this at the Christmas Eve Mass. I, too, was touched by the words.

  2. Paul Emmons permalink
    March 25, 2014

    These thoughts remind me, too, of one of the novels of Madeleine L’Engle, in which several children meet a young angel. One of the first things an angel needs to do, he said, was to learn the names of the stars.

    How many stars, they asked.

    “All of them.”

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