|A color photograph of the Earth and Moon on December 24, 1968. |
The television viewers saw a grainy black and white image,
On December 24, 1968, in what was the most watched television broadcast at the time, the crew of Apollo 8 read in turn from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon. William Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited verses 1 through 10, using the King James Version text.
"We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, an atheist, responded by suing the United States government, alleging violations of the First Amendment. The suit was dismissed by the Supreme Court due to lack of jurisdiction. Later on the Apollo 11 mission, Buzz Aldrin received communion on the lunar surface shortly after landing. Although he did not keep his actions secret, he only said a non-religious sentence on the intercom, and read from the scripture off-air.
In popular culture
An excerpt from the recorded readings (mostly from Anders' section)"In the Beginning" features prominently in the opening track the album The Songs of Distant Earth (1994) by Mike Oldfield.
The European electronic duo VNV Nation use a sample of the recording on "Genesis", a song from their 2002 album, Futureperfect.
A sample from the recording is used by Brave Saint Saturn in their song "Under Bridges", from the album So Far from Home.
In the Space: Above and Beyond episode "The River of Stars," the Apollo 8 recording is played for the 58th "Wildcards" Squadron.
The entire reading is reproduced verbatim in the "1968" episode of the HBO TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.
Israeli Goa trance artists Astral Projection have a song titled "Let There Be Light", which has a sample of the first four verses, read by William Anders.
The group MGMT used the verses read by Frank as a sample in one song named "Come On Christmas" from the album "Climbing To New Lows".