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Earth and all stars

Earth and all stars

For your summer Sunday evening:


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Ann Fontaine

I love this hymn (why I posted it) — it is so jolly and the tune stays in my ear all week. I can write more verses easily. Of course there are better recordings – it is youtube after all. And it includes so many everyday things singing.


As the verger at my small Episcopal Church in Alabama, I help to select the hymns subject to the priest’s approval. I must confess that this was not one of my favorites until I learned that it’s a means of grace to one of our parishioners, a lab technician. For her, the mention of “loud boiling test tubes” in one of the verses Lionel probably would call insipid is God’s way of telling her that she matters too, that she is a precious and beloved child of the eternal and inscrutable God. How can I argue with that?


Well, as long as we are being grumpy on a Monday morning :-), could I suggest that any virtues of the arrangement of the tune would be better served by a less electronic sounding voicing of the midi file. Fake brass just doesn’t sound very good. (FWIW, I’d try a real piano, with a light touch)

Cheers from Boston – Joan Rasch

Lionel Deimel


If we disagree about “Earth and All Stars,” at least we can agree on “How Great Thou Art.”

For the record, here is the list of problems with “Earth and All Stars” I enumerated in “Heavens and Earth, All of Creation”:

  1. Nothing rhymes. Rhymes are not essential to a hymn, but rhyme often enhances a text significantly.
  2. The text is repetitive. One can excuse the repetition of the refrain, but the repetition noted above and the occurrence of “loud” twice in each stanza is a bit much.
  3. The use of “loud” often makes little sense. What is one to make of “loud rushing planets,” for example. Planets moving through the vacuum of space make no noise! Perhaps even less reasonable is “loud sounding wisdom.”
  4. Some references just don’t seem appropriate for a Christian hymn in the 21st century. Most notable in this regards is “O victory, loud shouting army.”
  5. The text seems to be trying too hard to be contemporary. Examples of this are “athlete and band” and “limestone and beams, loud building workers.”

The subjectivity of hymnody is one of those things for which this old saw was invented:

Q: What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

A: You can negotiate w/ a terrorist.

I’m not ashamed to say I love “Earth and All Stars” (probably for some of the same reasons Lionel hates it?): it’s so unabashedly enthusiastic (in both senses of the term). And campy: I love that about it, too.

…which got me thinking of hymns that make me queasy: the one that comes quickly to mind is “Publish Glad Tidings”: 19th century Evangelicalism at its ickiest. [“Those benighted nations {cough dark-skinned cough} that haven’t yet heard the Gospel of White Middle-Class Anglo-America! Horrors!”]

Then I thought, why stop there? If I’m going to dump on icky Protestant hymns, might as well go-for-the-gusto: brace yourselves, I really can’t stand “How Great Thou Art”. You want “insipid”? How ’bout BOMBASTICALLY insipid!

…but I also know HGTA is many people’s favorite. So, there we are. Whenever they revise “The ’82”, there will be all us little terrorist-liturgists declaring why one’s personal vomit-inducer should be (finally!) dropped, while another terrorist-liturgist will threaten to blow up the presses if that same hymn is NOT included.

Same as it ever was. ;-/

JC Fisher

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