The Communicant’s Summer Jamz!

I had a hankerin’ for Tommy Brew’s unpopular Youth Mass 1970 album. Considered a riposte to Ray Repp (whom Brew considered to be overly sentimental), the songs were never performed in public other than one recital for campers at Camp Ekon on Lake Joseph, Ontario, where it was very well-received. The songs, which include the dirge-like opening hymn “Dust to Dust” and presciently Depeche Mode-ish electronic-tinged “Lamb for the Slaughter,” as well as the anti-war recessional “Go in Peace (To Kill and Disobey the Lord?)” were never incorporated into the parish canon like Repp’s were and Brew never again tried his hand at liturgical music. My well-worn taped tape of YM1970 finally gave out and I couldn’t find it anywhere for download, so I went to the KtB archives to look for the album.

It wasn’t there. It was listed as checked-in. I hope that someone merely checked it out without actually checking it out? I mean, it’s kind of an honor system, and if we all just start taking stuff and not filling out a slip for the file then the items might be lost. At the very least, someone else might want what you have and have no way to reminding you to return it. So, whoever took Youth Mass (cough Nathan cough) (cough invitinggirlsoverafterMasstolistentoarareTommyBrewalbum cough) could you please put it back?

But sometimes, as we well know, the Lord works in mysterious ways. While searching frantically for Youth Mass 1970 I came upon a dusty cassette of unknown provenance. (KtBniks: could we please make sure that new acquisitions are properly labeled and cataloged, and not just plunked on a shelf? Q, didn’t you say you were going to tackle that at our last staff meeting? We just had a huge bequest last year from the Sisters of Mary Star-of-the-Sea in Carmel and the boxes are still just sitting there.) The soundtrack to the 1973 LDS musical Saturday’s Warrior. Thank you, Jesus. And Moroni, as the case may be? I’m a big fan of other early-70s religiously-themed musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and never imagined that there was another one! This is huge to me.

Saturday’s Warrior, which was written in 1973 by Douglas Stewart and Lex de Azevedo and first performed as a college project, is the story of a group of LDS siblings, beginning with their time in the before-life of heaven. In “Pullin’ Together” they sing about sticking together both in heaven and down on earth. Lovers (chastely) wonder if they’ll be reunited on earth. However, after birth, the Flinders forget their heavenly promises and trouble ensues. Jimmy, the oldest of the bunch, goes out partying with bad sorts while his mom is pregnant with her eighth child. Meanwhile, his twin sister Pam, who was wheelchair-bound and plagued with health problems, finally perishes. She, up in heaven with their last sister, Emily, exhorts Jimmy to straighten up and fly right so that Emily can be born to the right family. Another sister, Julie, tries to wait for her boyfriend out on a mission before delivering a nicely-sung “Dear John” letter (it works out; she soon meets her pre-birth soulmate in a park). Jimmy’s all messed up with his so-called “friends” who espouse “Zero Population Growth” (a toe-tapper!) but soon finds his way back to his family and Emily is born. The Saturday’s Warrior of the title is Emily, I think? Given that she’s the last child born and Saturday is the last day of the week and we are in the “latter days?”

This soundtrack fills me with a bit of Mormon envy, I must admit. It all seems like an awful lot of fun; a great cosmology in which heaven, earth and heaven again are connected and families weather storms together on all sides of eternity. And I wonder, as the youngest of six myself, if perhaps I am one of Saturday’s Warriors?

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.