Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day

 

This carol may well have been performed to conclude the first day of a three day Cornish-language religious play, very similar to the medieval morality plays: the third phrase in the opening stanza, 'to see the legend of my play,' implies a dramatic context. It is somewhat rare for traditional Christmas carols to refer to dancing, perhaps further evidence of this carol intitially being performed as a dramatic retelling of the story of Jesus using singing and dancing -- a full ensemble of players -- to dramatize events. In this context, the verses would have been sung by the actor portraying Christ, while the refrain would have been sung by the ensemble and the audience.

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 the dance.

Sing O my love, O 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 the 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.

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© Mary Vanhoozer 2020