Listening to the Glories of Christmas Carols – Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

Sometimes we listen and like and love and repeat Christmas carols without really knowing the words or understanding them. I was thinking of this the other day when my wife and I were worshiping with a congregation of much younger adults with a large number of members who had not grown up in the church. We were singing Christmas carols and we sang What Child Is This and came to the line that says:

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

I found myself wondering how many people understood that the word mean here was not talking about being unkind but poor. I realize that many of my favorite carols can easily be misunderstood because of the change of language. Even more often we don’t get the whole point of a carol because we simply never hear all the words either because they are too long or because someone may believe that some folks my be offended by the true words of a carol.

One of my wife Debbie’s favorite carols is Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. In its fullness it is a great declaration of the gospel. Here it is in full, it speaks for itself. Happy second day of Christmas.

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.

Chorus:
Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love
My love, my love
This have I done for my true love.

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.

Chorus

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.

Chorus

Then afterwards baptized I was
The Holy Ghost on me did glance
My Father’s voice heard from above
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

Into the desert I was led
Where I fasted without substance
The Devil bade me make stones my bread
To have me break my true love’s dance.

Chorus

The Jews on me they made great suit
And with me made great variance
Because they loved darkness rather than light
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

For thirty pence Judas me sold
His covetousness for to advance
Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold
The same is he, who shall lead the dance.

Chorus

Before Pilate the Jews me brought
Where Barabbas had deliverance
They scourged me and set me at naught
Judged me to die to lead the dance.

Chorus

Then on the cross hanged I was
Where a spear my heart did glance
There issued forth both water and blood
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love’s deliverance
And rose again on the third day
Up to my true love and the dance.

Chorus

Then up to heaven I did ascend
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance.

Chorus

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