This text is copyright and cannot be reproduced here.
Sydney Carter (b1915)
The 1950s and 60s saw the beginning of a long exploration into the meaning and means of worship in almost all the churches that has resulted in many changes. There were those who were exploring the folk song tradition as a way of expressing their Christian convictions. The most imaginative and probing of these was Sydney Carter. About 1961 he took the idea of the life of Jesus expressed as a dance as found in the old Cornish carol ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’. The Shakers or ‘Shaking Quakers’ in America used dance as a way of worship and purification, dancing so hard that they would wear out their floors. Sydney Carter took the melody of their song ‘Simple gifts’ and wrote this song that affirms the power of life over death through the imagery of the dance. It became immediately popular and has been much sung in churches, even though it was never intended as an ordinary hymn. Its appeal is to all ages.