“As Moses’ Hymn and Miriam’s Psalm”
This month we continue our Hymn of the Month series in which one or more hymns drawn from collections published by 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.
The Hymn of the Month for September 2023 is As Moses’ Hymn and Miriam’s Psalm, with a text by John Core (1951-2017) and a tune by James E, Clemens (b. 1966). This exquisite text brings forth all of John Core’s brilliance and creativity as a hymn writer, essentially rehearsing the history of salvation in terms of musical references in Scripture and concluding with the profound question: “When all God’s history seems entwined with music made by humankind, the spirit in me asks the mind: how can my voice be still?” Obviously, the hymn could be used any time, but it would seem to be appropriately introduced in September as many churches celebrate the beginning of a new program year for their various music ministries. Clemens’ tune is disarmingly simple, accessible, and singable, with a sparse accompaniment that might best be added after the congregation learns the melody well acappella, with strong leadership by a choir of adults or children or both, or even a cantor.
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 Leupold Editions. Clemens is a versatile musician with a Mennonite background who studied piano, violin, and organ during his school years and now composes a wide variety of vocal and instrumental music influenced by old-time tunes, rhythms from West Africa, the music of Native North Americans, jazz, early American folk hymns