Christus Apollo: Religion, Science Fiction, and Music

SF Signal has a guest post about science fiction music. The focus of that post is on instrumental music, and in that category one album that comes to mind is Mike Oldfield’s “Songs of Distant Earth,” named after the novel by Arthur C. Clarke.

But if one branches out to vocal music, then there is a piece that deserves to be better known than it is: a setting of Ray Bradbury’s poem/cantata “Christus Apollo” by Jerry Goldsmith, well known for his film scores for many movies, including quite a number in the science fiction genre.

The piece can be listened to in parts on YouTube. I’m embedding the first part here. An excerpt from the text of Bradbury’s poem that I shared once before will follow below the video. You can read the piece in its entirety online in more than one place.

YouTube Preview Image

Christ wanders in the Universe
A flesh of stars,
He takes on creature shapes
To suit the mildest elements,
He dresses him in flesh beyond our ken.
There He walks, glides, flies, shambling of strangeness.
Here He walks Men.
Among the ten trillion beams
A billion Bible scrolls are scored
In hieroglyphs among God’s amplitudes of worlds;
In alphabet multitudinous
Tongues which are not quite tongues
Sigh, sibilate, wonder, cry:
As Christ comes manifest from a thunder-crimsoned sky.
He walks upon the molecules of seas
All boiling stews of beast
All maddened broth and brew and rising up of yeast.
There Christ by many names is known.
We call him thus.
They call him otherwise.
His name on any mouth would be a sweet surprise.
He comes with gifts for all,
Here: wine and bread.
There: nameless foods
At breakfasts where the morsels fall from stars
And Last Suppers are doled forth with stuff of dreams.
So sit they there in times before the Man is crucified.
Here He has long been dead.
There He has not yet died.

Perhaps I should also mention that one of the chapters in Religion and Science Fiction is about the intersection of religion, science fiction/fantasy, and music.

Science fiction and music, religion and music, and religion and science fiction intersect often. What is your favorite example of the intersection of all three?

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  • Jonathan Burke

    The choral arrangement of the Agnus Dei for Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ has always been a great favourite of mine, well suited to scifi. It was used in the classic 3D space RTS Homeworld II.

  • Anonymous

    “When you wish upon a star.”  Disney is a religion for some of us I know and in 1977 this music was incorporated in one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.