Dancing My Way Through Christmastide

The Christmas compilations are in heavy rotation in the Susanka household these days. The boys — ring-led by our resident head-banger, Cormac — clamor for the upbeat (if liturgically …questionable) tones of Mannheim Steamroller and John Denver & The Muppets, while I iron-fistedly demand (and sometimes get) more traditional fare.

This year, my leanings manifest themselves most markedly in the frequent playing of “Menus & Music for Christmas” — a recording I prize for its inclusion of John Linton Gardner’s setting of the traditional carol, “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.” (I’ve always been fascinated by the imagery of Christ as Lord of the Dance, actually. And no, I’m not talking about Michael Flatley. Though there’s something fascinating about that, as well.)

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man’s nature
To call my true love to my dance.

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance.

The above performance isn’t the same as the one found on the CD in question, but it does retain the thing I love so much about Gardner’s setting: the fantastically percussive use of the organ. (That particular feature is not quite as obvious in other readily-available YouTube versions, such as this otherwise blameless one from the King’s College Choir.)

My favorite part about that percussive organ? Cormac gets to keep his head-banging.

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