By Tom Quiner

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLGqavkDszU]

Alleluia! He has risen!

The dramatic sweep of the Easter Triduum has reached its dramatic highlight: Easter.

In the Catholic Church, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are called the Easter Triduum. Our worship never stops. These three days are a piece of the same holy canvas.

I attended the Easter vigil Mass last night at my parish. The drama and pageantry of Christ’s death and resurrection was again experienced with liturgical artistry.

The reality of Christ rivets me at every Mass, but never more than during the Easter vigil.

The man, Jesus, lived.

He was the Son of God.

He died for you and me so that we might live.

As proof that death was defeated, He rose.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

We have a tradition in my parish. We conclude the Easter triduum by singing “The Lord of the Dance.” It’s an interesting song. The lyrics were written by an English composer, Sydney Carter, back in the sixties. He set his text to a beautiful Shaker song, “Simple Gifts.” Mr. Carter’s lyrics capture the life of Christ by using dance as a metaphor for life. He was surprised by the song’s popularity:

“I did not think the churches would like it at all. I thought many people would find it pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian. But in fact people did sing it and, unknown to me, it touched a chord … Anyway, it’s the sort of Christianity I believe in.”

I marvel at the diversity of the hymns we sing in the Catholic Church. Just two days earlier, we sang a hymn with text written by St. Thomas Aquinas some 800 years ago. St. Thomas’ text is majestic. And we sang two beautiful negro spirituals that are powerful prayers.

Mr. Carter takes a completely different path with his song text:

“I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. 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. I sing of the dancing pattern in the life and words of Jesus. Whether Jesus ever leaped in Galilee to the rhythm of a pipe or drum I do not know. We are told that David danced (and as an act of worship too), so it is not impossible. The fact that many Christians have regarded dancing as a bit ungodly (in a church, at any rate) does not mean that Jesus did. The Shakers didn’t…”

For me, his lyrics are pure genius, especially this verse:

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 & they thought I’d gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

I found a very nice version of the song on YouTube, which I share with you above. Below are Mr. Carter’s complete lyrics for “Lord of the Dance.”

What is the meaning of life? It is that life has meaning. The Lord of the Dance proved it.

Alleluia!

***

The Lord of the Dance

Lyrics by Sidney Carter

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on 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!
(…lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

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

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!
(…lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

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!
(…lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

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 & they thought I’d gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

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!
(…lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

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!

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!

 

2 Comments

  1. Mark on March 31, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Thank you, Tom, I can’t think of a better Easter reflection! Happy Easter to all the Quiner’s!

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