I Danced In the Morning
words by Sydney Carter
American Shaker Melody
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 heal you all, wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said He.
I danced on the scribe and the Pharisee,
But they would not dance and they would not 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 high;
And 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 leap up high;
I am the life that will never, never die;
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in Me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
I Danced In the Morning – song notes
In 1963, Sydney Carter (1915-2004) adapted his hymn from a 19th century Shaker melody called ‘Simple Gifts’ and wrote new, celebratory words.
His vision of a Christ who leads us to dance and celebrate was not aligned with some traditional Christian ideas of his day. He wrote:
By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best.
Stainer and Bell website
The composer also suggest singing the words in the present tense for an uplifting change: ‘I dance in the morning when the world is begun…’