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. Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited Genesis chapter one, 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 heaven 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, founder of American Atheists, responded by suing the United States government, alleging violations of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court dismissed the suit due to lack of jurisdiction.
Later, on the 1969 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.The serially published work of long fiction, Unsong, by the blogger Scott Alexander uses this broadcast as part of the story's prologue.
Music and spoken wordThe Israeli psychedelic trance group Astral Projection used a sample of the recording on their track "Let There Be Light" (1995).
The Dutch DJ Bakermat used the opening verse of the audio in his single "Uitzicht".
Christian rock group Brave Saint Saturn sampled the recording in their song "Under Bridges", from the album So Far from Home (2000).
The East-German alternative rock band Down Below samples the recording at the beginning of their song "How To Die In Space", from the album Silent Wings: Eternity (2004).
Michael Jackson used the ending part of the Apollo 8 Genesis on his song "HIStory" from his album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995).
The group MGMT used the verses read by Borman as a sample in the song "Come On Christmas", from the album Climbing To New Lows.
The Swedish progressive rock band Mood Safari used the first two sentences of Bill Anders' part on their song "Moonwalk".
An excerpt from the recorded readings (from Anders' section) "In the Beginning" features prominently in the opening track of Mike Oldfield's album The Songs of Distant Earth (1994).
The European electronic duo VNV Nation used a sample of the recording on "Genesis", a song from their album, Futureperfect (2002).
The German Artist Chillwalker used a sample of the recording as the main theme on "The Light of God", a song from his first album, Fine tunes del Mar (2007).
The Progressive rock band Arena used excerpts of this broadcast in the song "Purgatory Road" from the Pepper's Ghost (2005).
The post-rock band Coastlands used the broadcast in the song "Communion" from the "Home, Again" album (2012).
An excerpt from the recording, from Anders' section was used as a part of the Introductory video IN Passion 2016, an annual worship conference organised by the Passion City church which IS pastored by Louie Giglio(2016)
Spiffy Man, the Electronic Music Producer formerly known as Sp33fy [email protected], has a track called Farewell ft. Progley - the Sauniks Remix of this track features the opening lines of the broadcast. Note only the (Sauniks Remix) features the recording, neither the original Farewell track nor other remixes have it.
Electronic music duo W&W used an excerpt of Anders' verse in their song "Lift Off".
The entire reading is reproduced verbatim in the "1968" episode of the HBO TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.
In the Space: Above and Beyond episode "The River of Stars," the Apollo 8 recording is played for the 58th "Wildcards" Squadron.
In 1969, the United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp (Scott # 1371) to commemorate the Apollo 8 mission and the reading.