“Across the Country Craters Gape”Mark Alan Filbert, Hymnology Consultant
This month we continue our Hymn of the Month series in which one or more hymns drawn from collections published by Wayne Leupold Editions will be posted on the opening page of the website for consideration by pastors and musicians who may wish to introduce the hymn to their congregations the following month. The Hymn of the Month will often be thematically appropriate for a particular season of the church year or it may be related to a more general theme about the church’s mission in contemporary society. Thus, pastors and/or musicians may wish to have the choir introduce the hymn on the first Sunday of the month or season and then invite the congregation to join with the choir in singing the hymn on each of the remaining Sundays. Additional hymns will occasionally be suggested for a particular Sunday in the church year or for annual commemorations, such as the liturgies of Holy Week; such hymns may only be appropriate on the designated day, or they might be used as a Hymn of the Month in anticipation of or in response to the particular day observed on the church calendar
As we prepare to celebrate the founding of the United States on Independence Day in July, we are reminded that we are a country of immigrants, some of whom were refugees from political, religious, and/or ethnic persecution in their native lands, and others of whom were forcefully brought to this country to maintain the institution of slavery. At the same time, as these immigrants sought to fulfill their concept of manifest destiny, Native Americans became displaced refugees within their own nations. In our own time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that, at the beginning of 2022, over 100 million individuals around the world were displaced because of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, the highest number ever, and a number that is only increasing as millions now flee Ukraine. In the Hymn of the Month for July 2022, Across the Country Craters Gape, author John Core (1951-2017), offers a truly prophetic word in challenging us as Americans to examine our own attitudes toward refugees with the refrain, “Where shall God’s people go?”, and in light of the biblical mandate to “treat them as native-born.”
John Core was born at Camp (now Fort) Rucker, Alabama, and earned a B.A. in Speech Communication from West Virginia University in Morgantown, where he served as a Library Associate cataloging music from 1975 until his death in 2017. Core was a member of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and published four collections of texts with Wayne Leupold Editions.