The first time we sang this song in church, I wondered why we weren’t all dancing while we sang it. It is not strictly a Celtic song, but the lilting, Celtic-like cadence just lends itself to smiling and dancing – and you may well find yourself at least tapping your toes as you listen.
Written in 1963 (how did I not hear this song sooner than 2007?) by Sydney Carter, it has skipped and leaped over the decades, and is still being sung and enjoyed. Carter adapted an old Shaker tune for the song, but his version is considered his own work.
Carter explained, “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.” Sydney Carter has some interesting but fairly unorthodox ideas going on as far as mainstream doctrine may see it, but it just seems to me to be a beautiful allegory. I have a print of Jesus Laughing, and it’s not a stretch to me to picture him dancing.
Barley Bree, who are singing this version of the song, is an Irish Canadian group that were busy playing and singing in the 80s and 90s.
Feel free to chime in on your thoughts on the song.