Left Field Finds: They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

“Open up the boxes, tumble down the walls, let them be the thing they want to be, not necessarily like you and me!” This is the message of the group, a community youth band from 1968 South Side Chicago led by Father Peter Scholtes. In part this is an album of worship music, featuring several traditional arrangements and Father Scholtes on acoustic guitar. But in its best moments it is more community music and youth music, as comes out in the spontaneous harmonies, mixed with woodwinds and percussionists on swaying rhythms on a combination of original songs and reimagined christian standards.

In their day they were the chorus band at the Young People’s Parish of Saint Brendan’s Church on Chicago’s South Side; a sizable group of young singers and musicians known for putting on public concerts. Some songs are standards, such as the recognizable and well worn “Shout And Clap Your Hands,” other tracks are composed by Peter Scholtes, others are credited to the Mass of 67th Street, and two tracks are originals, written by members of the choir. The tracks written by these young composers are touching songs sung by their composers, and not as spiritual as some of the traditional titles. A common thread in the tracks is a positive universalism and a progressive lean, as one might expect for an artifact of 1968.

With over 40 voices and instrumentalists, the chorus swells with a warm loudness that I love about religious bands, and the sometimes cluttered percussion gives an impromptu feel. Not necessarily spiritual, most of the songs have more of a political message than a dogmatic one. The lyrics that the band focuses on have this same quality, none of this is fire and brimstone, it’s all brotherhood and peace music.

(DL link in the youtube description)

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