Local songwriter composes tribute to Fr. Kapaun

Jack Korbel

Jack Korbel was so moved by the news that Fr. Emil Kapaun’s body had been identified that he wrote a song about it.

“It reflects my personal experiences in terms of my devotion to Father Kapaun,” he said.

The first verse of “When They Bring Your Body Home (for Fr. Emil Kapaun)” gives a few details about the native son of the Diocese of Wichita.

The second verse is based on the famous photograph of Fr. Kapaun saying Mass on the hood of a jeep in a field with one soldier kneeling on the ground.

“That image is really, I think, what first drew my attention to Father Kapaun and his cause,” he said. “I saw that image at Eighth Day Books (in Wichita) about 20 years ago and I felt compelled to know his story.”

Devotion grows

Korbel said the more he learned about Fr. Kapaun the more he was inspired and the more his devotion to the priest grew.

The third verse is personal. It’s about experiences with his wife and his son who they named after Fr. Kapaun.

“They both almost died while she was pregnant with him. He was born 10 weeks premature and was in the NICU for eight weeks,” he said, adding that they continually prayed for Fr. Kapaun’s intercession during that time.

“The last verse is about the news that the Army – against all odds – discovered his remains and that he’ll be coming home to Kansas.”

Korbel, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Kingman, is a speech language pathologist, and part-time singer and songwriter. He recorded the song at Green Jeans Studio in Wellington.

Fr. Kapaun died a hero in 1951 in a North Korean prisoner-of-war camp while serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. A cause for his canonization is under review by the Vatican.

The photo of Fr. Kapaun saying Mass in the field was taken by Colonel R.A. Skeehan. The soldier kneeling in the photo is Pfc. Patrick J. Schuler. The photo of Jack Korbel photo is courtesy of Korbel.

Here are the lyrics to Korbel’s song, “When They Bring Your Body Home (for Fr. Emil Kapaun)”:
Father Kapaun, you remember
What it’s like down here on Earth
On the country roads of Pilsen
In the farmland of your birth
How we scrape and how we toil
Just to grow our daily bread
And to save a little money
Once we’re sure that our kids are fed
On our mantel is a photo
That I know I’ll always keep
You’re saying Mass out in the field
And the altar is your Jeep
So many miles for your soldiers
In the dust and in the mud
So that the bread would be His body
And the wine would be His blood
My baby boy was in the NICU
When we named him after you
All November and December
Begging God to see him through
Those eight weeks have made me certain
No matter what they say in Rome
You’re a saint whose intercession
Helped to bring my baby home
Well, the news, it stuck as lightening
Spread like fire across the plains
That the Army’d really done it
Finally found your lost remains
I suspect you saints in heaven
Have not a care about your bones
But for those of us in Kansas
We need to bring your body home
So I’ll be praying at St. Mary’s
When they bring your body home