The words in all Songs from the Book of Knowledge are excerpts taken from a 1939 Compton’s Encyclopedia. The music is by Erica Harris, mixed with Garage Band.
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Never did things change so fast as in these days. Your grandfather’s father may have seen the coming of the steamboat, struggling along the river or lying with its nose against the banks. Your grandfather saw the early railway train, which came pushing proudly into the world at 20 miles an hour. Your father saw the motor-car riding the roads like a giant of power at a mile a minute. But you have seen a thing that clever men and wise men hardly dreamed of years ago; you have seen a thing that clever men scoffed at even when it first appeared – you have seen an airplane riding through the clouds!
In all the history of the world there has hardly been anything equal to that. Think of it in any way you like, and it must seem to you a miracle. Throw a stone up into the air and it falls down; throw a stream of water up and it comes back to earth; throw a feather up and, although it floats a little while on the wind, it soon glides back to the solid earth.
They fall, all of them, by what we call the law of gravitation, which means that earth pulls everything toward its center. A pebble rolls down hill; water runs to the lowest point. It is the pull of something in the mass of the earth that draws all things toward it as a magnet draws a needle. It will pull a flint down through a chalk bank if we give it time; it will pull down an overhanging tree if the tree is left long enough without support. This universal power of matter to attract other matter to it, the larger mass attracting a smaller, is one of the mysteries that no man understands.
And yet an airplane flies past a mile above our heads, so high that it looks like a bird, so beautiful that it looks as if Nature herself had made it, so confident of its power as it passes out of sight that it thrills a man to feel that he belongs to the race that made it. Now it is a speck! Soon our eyes will lose it, but we know that there is a man up there.