Title: Earth & All Stars
Author: Herbert F. Brokering
Illustrator: Preston McDaniels
Publisher: Morehouse Publishing (April 2002)
Audience: 3 and up
Summary: Using the hymn text written by Herbert F. Brokering in 1964, illustrator Preston McDaniels creates a little boy who takes us on an amazing and magical journey of God’s creation found in the heart of an urban community. As the boy, clad in red pajamas and an oversized top hat, travels through buildings (a train terminal, science lab, etc) and nature, he declares a constant refrain, “Sing to the Lord a new song!”
Literary elements at work in the story: Written for the ninetieth anniversary of St. Olaf College, this text was written to inspire imagination and wonder at the many ways God is at work in our modern life. Broadway signs, Central Park, and the Empire State building highlight the illustrations as the little boy floats through the sky in singing praise for God’s marvelous works both physical and spiritual.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The text of this contemporary hymn is illustrated in a most unusual way that brings character to the ordinary routines of life in a community and creates a visual puzzle filled with details that highlight the working class (from construction workers to street musicians) in a celebrative way. Everyday events are cause for rejoicing and are transformed into avenues of praise. From the skyscraper to the classroom to the choir rehearsal room, God has done marvelous things. We will sing praises with a new song!
Theological Conversation Partners: “Earth and All Stars” is a catalog text, inviting us to join with a whole host of natural and cultural phenomena to “sing to the Lord a new song!” But Brokering presents a modern list of natural, manufactured, and inanimate things that join in praising the Lord: planets and weather (vs.1); construction and buildings (vs.2); learning and athletics (vs.3); knowledge, truth, wisdom and all people (vs.4). Using Psalm 96:1 for the verses and Psalm 98:1 for the refrain, this modern-day hymn helps us celebrate God’s continuing work in our lives in new ways that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Psalm 150 serves as an underlying theme of this hymn as we praise God in the highest heaven for all the wonderful things God has done and is continuing to do within us and through us. This hymn can be found in numerous hymnbooks. This link gives you the hymnal title and page number in each one.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Think through the events of an average day. Where do you see evidence of God at work?
- Think of the people you meet in your community. How can they inspire you to sing praise to God for their uniqueness? What can you learn from them?
- How can you sing praise to God for the ordinary things?
The lesson plan that uses this book will be posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2014.
This review is written by regular contributor Krista Lovell.
Earth and All Stars by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.