The Dancing Years

The Meenister’s Log

Sydney Carter’s “Lord of the Dance” is now a firm favourite and item of praise in many a congregation’s repertoire, but when first introduced, some weren’t so sure: at an open air service I once took many years ago, it had one man doing a solo “Dashing White Sergeant” toward the exit, with the exclamation “disgraceful! and I don’t think that it was a critique of my singing!

Life can, I suppose, be regarded as a Dance – sometimes quick, sometimes slow; sometimes complex, sometimes simple (hey, have you seen this cartoon from Private Eye?)


Dance has its place,of course,in worship – you’ll find it, for example, in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT) in Exodus – having safely crossed the Red Sea, we read that “The prophet, Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took her tambourine and all the women followed her, playing their instruments and dancing”

Worship and dance seem to go together and have been partners for a very long time.

I once conducted a funeral service at which the organist was requested to play a favourite tune of the deceased: namely, “When they begin the Beguine” – an accidental, but inspired choice – and, I guess, theologically correct..

I’m also aware of the guest at a wedding reception, who, accepting the invitation of the band: “if any of yous who wants tae sing summat – cum oan and tak the mike & gies us a song”

So we got “The Old Rugged Cross” in waltz time…….

A colleague recalls that soon after being inducted to his new Charge, asked the Session Clerk what the arrangements were for Holy Week…

“A Good Friday evening service?”

“Oh no, Minister, that’s the date of our Congregational Dance!”

One of my colleagues had to introduce the Rev …… whose specialty was Liturgical Dance, and he couldn’t hep but giggling – his congregation sat in awed silence (or gobsmacked, if you prefer) during this creaky “performance” to some nursery rhyme like “Shine, Jesus, shine”

I heard of a very innovative liturgy director, a religious sister, dancing the offertory procession in ‘attractive’ costumes and playing the banjo. The bishop was presiding on this occasion of the pastor’s golden jubilee. As the “dancer” approached the altar the bishop whispered to the pastor: “If she asked for your head on a platter, she’d have it!”

Our dance through life doesn’t always have to have the sophisticated grace of an Astaire or the self confident verve of a Gene Kelly.  It can even peal off at surprising tangents

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

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