Psalm 8: Hymn of the Universe

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

October 17, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 8.

O LORD, our LORD,
how glorious is your Name over all the earth!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
you have fashioned praise ….

Psalm 8:2-3

Just yesterday, I got an email from the amazingly organized Sister who manages our grounds. She wanted to alert us that there would be a small “star-gazing” event this weekend, sponsored by our school, in case we might wonder about unusual nighttime visitors.


The note took me back to my own star-gazing days, residues of which percolate from time to time, especially during meteor showers. These days I do most of my “gazing” out our kitchen window, but when I studied for my certification in Earth Sciences, I had several opportunities for “instructed” star-gazing with excellent West Chester University astronomers. In a subsequent reflection, I described one such experience like this:

There are a few places where nature offers an experience of darkness so absolute it can be terrifying.  Assateague Island lies along the barrier coast of Virginia.  On a winter night, darkness there feels complete, enveloping.  As evening lengthens, night pulls its velvet canopy from the black ocean, covering the beach in silence. The whisper of rustling sea oats along invisible dunes is the only link to a land left behind.  But slowly, like sparks rolling through dry tinder, stars burn one by one through heaven’s blanket.  By midnight, their incomparable brilliance convinces the soul that it has never been and can never be alone.


Three thousand years ago, our psalmist felt the same way:

When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What are we  that you should be mindful of us,
we human beings that you should care for us?

Psalm 8:4-5

Charles Spurgeon, revered Baptist preacher, calls this psalm “the song of the Astronomer“, as gazing at the heavens inspires the psalmist to meditate on God’s creation and humanity’s place in it.

You have made us little less than the angels,
and crowned us with glory and honor.
You have given us rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under our feet.

Psalm 8:6-7

Pope John Paul II said this:

 …. for those who have attentive ears and open eyes, creation is like a first revelation that has its own eloquent language: it is almost another sacred book whose letters are represented by the multitude of created things present in the universe. St. John Chrysostom says: “The silence of the heavens is a voice that resounds louder than a trumpet blast: this voice cries out to our eyes and not to our ears, the greatness of Him who made them.

General Audience – January 30, 2002

And our dear Pope Francis reiterates this thought so beautifully in his epic encyclical:

At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God, and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us, will share in unending plenitude.

Laudato Si’

Let’s rest in all this beauty as we pray today with Psalm 8


Music: Beautiful Universe – Tim Janis

2 thoughts on “Psalm 8: Hymn of the Universe

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