NOTE: This except is part of a longer article that addresses
the combining of rock music and religion, using as examples Godspell, Jesus
Christ Superstar, and Hair's third anniversary celebration with Galt MacDermot's
Mass in F.
Some of the women worshipers wore hotpants. Some of the men wore plush velvet jackets. Braless girls leaned languorously against the pews; here and there bright balloons announced "God Is Love." Then the band struck up the entrance hymn: "When the moon is in the seventh house, And Jupiter aligns with Mars..." On cue, a blue-gowned verger cleared the way to the alter for the cross bearer and celebrants of the Mass. Hair had come to the solemn, vaulted sanctuary of manhattan's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
The occasion was the third anniversary of the Broadway opening of the musical that had been run out of Acapulco and censored in Munich. Its more controversial scenes of nudity and frank language were notably missing, and the six Hair numbers were intended to be only a framework for a Mass in F written by Hair composer Galt MacDermot. Unfortunately, except for a soul-styled Lord's Prayer sung by Hair Star Delores Hall, the Mass music was overpowered rather than complimented by the Hair numbers.
The rest of the occasion was more of a happening than a traditional liturgy. Indeed, though MacDermot had written a Credo, it was dropped in deference to non-Christians present. In a brief speech, FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson, a Unitarian, dwelt on the fact that the day was both Mother's Day and Buddha's birthday. Harvard Theologian Harvey Cox, in the main sermon, declared that Hair was an appropriately Christian blend of "innocence and suffering." One well-dressed family munched on hamburgers, malts and French fries during the Mass. Some worshipers were perturbed by it all, but they, and a lot of others, stayed. The attendance - or box office - at Morning High Mass the same day had been about 1,000. For the Hair Mass, an estimated 7,000 jammed the cathedral. Over 2,500 received the Communion bread and wine - including several Jews.
Copyright Time Magazine Corp.
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