Lord of the Dance

“Lord of the Dance” is a hymn written by Sydney Carter in the 1960s and set to the Shaker tune, “Simple Gifts.” I have been unable to get it out of my head. For over a week, this song greets me when I get up and pops in my head throughout the day. Even when I get up in the middle of the night, I find my brain dancing along to its feeling of rhythmic perpetuity.

The lyrics present Jesus leading all things in a divine dance. Some follow His lead and dance. Others don’t. His story—from creation to incarnation to crucifixion and resurrection—is told simply and beautifully. I find the verses about His death especially poignant, and I love the promise in the last verse: “I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me, I am the Lord of the Dance said He.”

The chorus, “Dance then wherever you may be”, etc, repeats after each verse but I have not included it every time below. Here is a link to a recording by Nowell Sing We Clear: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Faxg7MEwg. I also featured Nowell Sing We Clear in my last post. Lord, lead us in your dance!


I danced in the morning
When the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon
And the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven
And I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem
I had my birth. 

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he

I danced for the scribe
And the pharisee,
But they would not dance 
And they wouldn’t follow me.
I danced for the fishermen,
For James and John 
They came with me
And the Dance went on.

I danced on the Sabbath
And I cured the lame;
The holy people
Said it was a shame.
They whipped and they stripped
And they hung me on high,
And they left me there
On a Cross to die.

I danced on a Friday
When the sky turned black 
It’s hard to dance
With the devil on your back.
They buried my body
And they thought I’d gone,
But I am the Dance,
And I still go on.

They cut me down
And I leapt up high;
I am the life
That’ll never, never die;
I’ll live in you
If you’ll live in me –
I am the Lord
Of the Dance, said he.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. This song has also been in my head over the last couple of weeks. I shared it with some American friends who had never heard it. The tune is apparently old, but I love Sydney Carter’s lyrics and have done for many years, and when you consider he wrote them in the 1960’s they were quite ahead of their time. Merry Christmas to you and your family Teague!

    1. mrteague says:

      Thank you! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well 😊

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