Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

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Tomorrow shall be my dancing day is an English carol usually attributed as 'traditional'; its first written appearance is in William B. Sandys' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern of 1833.[1] It is most well known in John Gardner's adaptation, but numerous other composers have made original settings of it or arranged the traditional tune, including Gustav Holst, Igor Stravinsky, David Willcocks, John Rutter, Ronald Corp, Philip Stopford, and Andrew Carter.

The verses of the hymn progress through the story of Jesus told in his own voice.[2] An innovative feature of the telling is that Jesus' life is repeatedly characterized as a dance. This device was later used in the modern hymn "Lord of the Dance".

Lyrics[3][edit]

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;

Chorus

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

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.

Chorus

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Between an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

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.

Chorus

Into the desert I was led,
Where I fasted without substance;
The Devil bade me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love's dance.

Chorus

The Jews on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness rather than light,
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance:
Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold!
The same is he shall lead the dance.

Chorus

Before Pilate the Jews me brought,
Where Barabbas had deliverance;
They scourged me and set me at nought,
Judged me to die to lead the dance.

Chorus

Then on the cross hanged I was,
Where a spear my heart did glance;
There issued forth both water and blood,
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love's deliverance,
And rose again on the third day,
Up to my true love and the dance.

Chorus

Then up to heaven I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance.

Chorus

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sandys, William (1833). Christmas Carols : Ancient and Modern. London: Richard Beckley. 
  2. ^ Bradley, Debbie. "Meaning of: Tomorrow shall be my dancing day". Choral net. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Da". Hymns and carols of Christmas. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 

Notes[edit]

Thomas Cahill, in his book Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Doubleday, 2006), presents this song as an English carol in which Christ speaks of his incarnation, his "dancing day." Cahill writes that the carol can be found on extant broadsides, which makes it certainly as old as early printing, but still impossible to date. He goes on to suggest that the phrase "the legend of my play" appears to be an allusion to a mystery play, and that the song might well have been sung at the beginning of one of those dramas. That, he writes, would place it in the later Middle Ages, perhaps the fourteenth century.

External links[edit]