Apollo 8 - From Space to Choral Music


1968 was one of the most turbulent years of the 20th century. America began the Tet Offensive in late January, elevating the tense conflict of the Vietnam War that had divided the United States. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy later in the year led to increased racial and political tension in America, leading to violent riots and protests throughout the nation.

It was within these troubled times that NASA continued its organizational goals of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. John F. Kennedy’s dream for American dominance in space was spearheaded by a group of innovators and scientists planning missions outside of the planet. As the Cold War continued, NASA became a vital element in the American strategy to show strength over the Soviet Union.

Apollo 8 provided a giant step forward for the space program and its goals. The three man team would take off from Kennedy Space Center and orbit the moon before heading back to earth. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders took flight on December 21, 1968, knowing that the chances of the mission’s success were less than stellar. Fortunately, the trip proved to be a monumental success, and the American people were able to experience part of the mission on December 24, 1968 television broadcast which at the time was the most watched program in television history.

Americans were able to have a snapshot of the journey, but those three men experienced visions of our universe that no other human in mankind had ever seen. Borman, Lovell and Anders were the first humans to ever see the whole of Planet Earth, the first to orbit the Moon and the first to witness an Earthrise. Thanks to color photography, we can glimpse a bit of the beauty that these brave men discovered on their mission.

The audio recordings of the Apollo 8 Mission help us understand the unexplainable shock and awe the men experienced in space. Their personalities are on full display as they try to put into words the beauty of creation they are viewing. The recordings of their mission can be found at


This post is part of our Choral Astronaut series, written by Jonathan Greer. The Verdigris Ensemble will be performing the Consolation of Apollo by Kile Smith on March 2, 4, and April 27. Kile Smith takes the direct transcripts of the Apollo 8 mission and sets it to choral music. For more information, please visit http://verdigrismusic.org/consolation

Sam Brukhman