URC Daily Devotion 24th December 2022

24th December 2022
 
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day is an English carol usually attributed as “traditional”.   Its first written appearance was in 1833. However, it is almost certainly of a much earlier date; some speculate that the text may be based on an earlier version associated with a mystery play of the late medieval period.  The music and words are striking as they reference dancing – a theme picked up in Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance.  You can hear it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VTkJSIXXzU
 

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 I from above,
To call my true love to my dance.

Reading: 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.

Reflection

Dancing has a rather unfortunate history in Reformed Christianity.  Associating it with drunkenness and debauchery, Calvin banned dancing in Geneva.  Ironically Elizabeth I of England (who rather liked a good dance) condemned Genevan Psalm tunes as “jigs”.   David danced before the Lord when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem and dancing is an expression of emotion enacted in most cultures.  

Today’s lovely carol, picking up on the idea in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything – even dance, has Jesus invite us to join the dance that he leads.  A dance which encapsulates his life – the full version of the carol takes us through all the aspects of His life but would need some adaptation to be used now.  

For me the striking aspect of the carol is the way the writer has Christ refer to humanity as “my true love.”  There is a long tradition in the Old Testament of God being seen as the people’s husband – an idea picked up in female monastic life where nuns will wear wedding rings as a sign of being married to Christ.  We are called to the true dance, the dance which is life – the very life of Christ.  The theme picked up by Sydney Carter in his Lord of the Dance.  

So in this season of joy and dance we are, again, invited into the dance of Jesus’ life, the very dance of creation where we both express the joy we have and invite others to rejoice too through a dance, a way of being, that gives hope, joy and life itself.  

Prayer

Lord of the dance,
help us to dance with you,
in the slow and the fast moves of life,
to express our emotions and our love,
that, with you,
we find time for all the seasons of life.
Amen. 

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the Minister for Digital Worship and is a member of the Peedie Kirk URC in Orkney.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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