‘When I consider your heavens, the moon and stars which you have set in place.’ Psalm 8:3
Pride and Joy gave each other a big hug as I listened to my not yet two-year-old grandson singing 'Twinkle twinkle little star'. He wasn't on stage at a nursery concert; he was in his cot, re-joining the world after a lunchtime nap, and I was listening to a recording made outside the door as he quietly sang to himself. He didn't get every word, although he finished with a confident flourish: 'twinkle twinkle little star ... how - I - won - der - what - you - are’. And it was almost faultlessly in tune. Stand aside Mr Jones - Tom or Aled!
How do the words go? 'Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are'. A source of amazement not just for a toddler, but for anyone who will gaze into the skies, by daytime or night. Nothing quite like it for stretching the imagination. How huge is the Universe? How small are we? Where did it all come from? Where do we come from? Why?
I imagine that, when David was writing Psalm 8, he was recalling his childhood as a shepherd, when he will have spent many a night on the hillsides around Bethlehem, tending sheep and wondering about the vast skies above him. I’m pretty sure he’d have been singing songs as he lay there looking up at the stars … maybe even ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. Perhaps David wrote the lullaby! Actually, no; the lyrics are from a 19th Century English poem by Jane Taylor, ‘The Star’, set to an 18th Century French tune arranged by none other than Mozart!
There’s something marvellously resonant about a two year old singing in his cot as he quietly ponders life - ‘from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’ (Psalm 8:2) - when set alongside David’s majestic outburst of praise:’You have set your glory above the heavens’ (8:1).
We will do well to learn from children that our lives are the richer, and our faith the stronger, if we regularly put the brakes on our frantic round of activity and wonder, in the words of the Welsh poet W.H. Davies: ‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’.
It’s actually rather important that we learn this lesson, for Jesus once told His disciples that: ‘unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’. (Matthew 18:2) There’s something to ponder.
Meantime, I can’t wait to see if our little cot-singer follows in the footsteps of his granddad and learns to sing the Psalms. What a duet that will be!