Do You Hear It?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge…Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. ”
Psalm 19:1-2,4

By Frank Christel

I’ve devoted my life’s work to sound, and this passage always puzzled me. How could sky and heavens “pour out speech”? Might that simply be metaphorical poetry? The engineer in me has always yearned for a literal interpretation.

It turns out what we see in space is not a silent movie – the universe has a soundtrack. Black holes, stars, comets, and residual echoes from the beginning of creation have characteristic songs. We owe the idea that space can ring like a drum to Albert Einstein. While audible sounds can’t travel through the vacuum of outer space, electromagnetic waves do, the medium which makes radio possible.

For example, here’s Sounds of a Nebula an outer space cloud of gas and dust,  rendered for our ears by researchers at Australian National University. And in this Fascinating TED talk, physicist Janna Levin shares the sound black holes make.

To musically illustrate the psalm above, here’s Max Richter’s brilliant recomposition of Vivaldi’s “Spring”. In this short video, hear the violins, much like chirping birds, representing the hubris of our lives’ frantic activities. And underlying that, the strong, deep orchestral chords representing God perpetually speaking through His creation.

John Calvin (1509-1564) observed: “It is no small honour that God for our sake has so magnificently adorned the world, in order that we may not only be spectators of this beauteous theatre, but also enjoy the multiplied abundance and variety of good things which are presented to us in it.”

And the apostle Paul warned about those who suppress this truth: “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

“Oh my debt of praise, how weighty it is, and how far run up! Oh, that others would lend me to pay, and teach me to praise.” – Samuel Rutherford (1600-1664)