URC Daily Devotion Saturday 2nd January – Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Saturday 2nd January – Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Published in 1833 this song has its origins in the medieval mystery plays where the actor playing Christ would sing the verses and the audience would sing the chorus. It was not uncommon to have the baby Jesus singing all 12 verses foretelling his life, and death linking the incarnation with the redemption.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, 11
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day William Sandys 1833
1. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day; I would my true love did so chance To see the legend of my play, To call my true love to my dance;
Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love, this have I done for my true love
2. Then was I born of a virgin pure, of her I took fleshly substance Thus was I knit to man’s nature To call my true love to my dance.
3. In a manger laid, and wrapped I was So very poor, this was my chance Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass To call my true love to my dance.
4. Then afterwards baptized I was; The Holy Ghost on me did glance, My Father’s voice heard from above, To call my true love to my dance.
The metaphor of battling exists in various ways in the English speaking mindset. We battle through traffic, battle through life, we stand our ground, fight our corners… Life is a struggle, a battle of wills – may the strongest survive! But what if instead of a battle, we see life as a dance? To see life as a dance… tango, foxtrot, waltz, jive – whatever the style, you have to accept and move with your partner for the dance to work. If you fight your partner in every step choice, you won’t get a 5 let alone a perfect score of 10. Battling focusses on opposition and winning, but dancing focuses on movement, beauty, and partnership.
Dancing is the metaphor used in this song, as it reflects key points in the life of Jesus. Every life event is an opportunity to “call [Jesus’] true love to [his] dance.” His life, death and resurrection is our invitation to join in the dance. His prayerful intercessions for us at the right hand of God not the solemn occasion you might expect, but rather a dance that we are invited to join!
And if, like me, you hear the Byrds singing “turn, turn, turn” as you read the passage from Ecclesiastes, maybe the turning is not just the turning of time, but the turning that comes with dancing – “in every season” – the good and the difficult times. We can try to fight the turning of time, and many people do – with facelifts, mid-life crisis, or just makeup and a really good wardrobe selection. But to dance even with time, the many stages and happenings of life – can we join that dance here, before we join in the dance at the heavenly wedding feast one day?
God, we cannot fully grasp all you have done – from the beginning to the end. Christ, we are amazed at your dancing through your life on earth and your resurrected life. Holy Spirit, call us to join in the dance. Teach us the steps. Help us to move to your rhythms, we pray. Amen.
The Rev’d Angela Rigby, Minister at St Johns Hill URC Sevenoaks and Christ Church URC Tonbridge