‘Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition!!’
Following up their number one smash, ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle,’ in the summer of 1942, Kay Kyser & His Orchestra continued in their winning ways with another popular, war-themed hit, ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!!,’ released on Columbia Records seventy years ago today. Written by Tin Pan Alley song man Frank Loesser, who would later compose the music for such Broadway blockbusters as Guys And Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying; ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!!’ reached all the way to number two in late October 1942, with only Bing Crosby’s unstoppable ‘White Christmas’ – then in the midst of its 11-week run at the top – keeping Kyser and Co. from reclaiming the number one spot for a second time that year.
An enduring classic from the war years, the song was composed by Loesser in the aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and, despite some artistic license taken with the lyrics, was based on true events and a true turn of phrase uttered during the December 7 assaults. ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!!’ began as a rallying cry repeated by Lt. Howell M. Forgy, chaplain aboard the USS New Orleans (CA-32), who shouted the future song title during the attack to urge the crew members to keep up the fight. Both Lt. Forgy and the New Orleans would survive the attacks and the war. Forgy’s words would also provide audiences with one of the great patriotic songs and slogans of the period.
Click below to hear Kay Kyser’s big hit.
Post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator at The National WWII Museum