Summers are usually a time for relaxing and having fun, but this summer has had more than its fair share of funerals in our town.
This morning the first hymn was one of my favorites, ““I Danced in the Morning” or Lord of the Dance, written not-so-long-ago by Sydney Carter in 1967. I remember that year–it was Expo ’67–Canada was celebrating its 100th birthday. Lester B. Pearson, who I vaguely remember, was premier, and Mr. Bolton, who I’ve daydreamed about over the years, was my ninth grade teacher.
The music for the hymn is adapted from the American Shaker song, Simple Gifts. While Carter doubted the song would be embraced by all, he wrote it because it was the way he viewed his own spirituality and used the music purposefully.
Shakers, I learned from Wikipedia, were a sect created in 18th century England. One of the things that set them apart from society at that point, however, was their belief in the equality of the sexes and their reliance on women leaders.
What I love about the song though, isn’t its origins, but its rhythm, and the words that seem to dance themselves.
I first heard this hymn thirteen years ago, as pallbearers carried the coffin of a co-worker’s sixteen-year-old daughter from the church, and tears streamed down my face. She’d been a child of the dance, a mischievous, always laughing child, who’d grabbed life with both hands. Her life had been short, but she’d touched us all.
Saying good-bye is never easy, especially to the young people we’ve lost, but the melody and words of this hymn make my heart feel a little lighter when I think of them.