S.J. Fisher on The Starry Heavens

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It has been wondered aloud “How could any astronomer be an atheist?” John Calvin once wrote that “Job's intent here is to teach us to be astronomers” (Commentary on Job 9). He also famously quoted Ovid who said, “While other animals look downwards towards the earth, he gave to man a lofty face, and bade him look at heaven, and lift up his countenance erect towards the stars” (Ovid, Metamorphoses 1; Institutes 1.15.3).

The starry sky does indeed declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). A poem by Samuel Jackson Fisher (found in The Romance of Pittsburgh or Under Three Flags, and Other Poems) reminds us of this. So does the ongoing August Perseid meteor shower.


When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
Those wondrous skies where stream afar
The light of countless suns and worlds.
The rays of blazing moon and star,
The sight of all Thy power hath wrought
O'erwhelms my mind and stifles thought.

When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
And think how through the ages gone,
While myriad souls have lived and died,
These worlds unchanged have nightly shone;
At such a vision of the skies,
Despair is strong, and fond hope dies.

When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
Oh! What is man 'mid scenes so vast!
An insect on the torrent's foam,
A leaf upon the highway cast,
A grain of sand upon the shore,
Forgotten in the ocean's roar.

When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
My heart finds there the glorious sign
Of all Thy Wisdom, Power and Love
Which makes the Life Eternal mine.
The stars no longer teach despair,
My Father's hand has placed them there!

When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
I see a power naught can resist,
A hand divine. Thy might, O Lord,
Which loves Thy children to assist.
Thou, Who didst set the Pleiades,
Will do for me far more than these.

When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
I know that these shall pass away.
For Thou shalt roll them like a scroll.
But Thy true Word shall meet that day;
And in the tempest of that fire
All but Thy promise shall expire.

When I consider Thy Heavens, O Lord!
So radiant in the midnight air,
I hear a whisper: "Fear no more.
Around you is a greater care;
For He Who set those stars aflame
Has called you by His children's name."