When was the carol, 'Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day' written and composed?

Though thought to find its roots in the world of medieval mystery plays, the Cornish carol 'Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day' was first published in 1833, when it appeared in William Sandys’s volume Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern.


Describing the life of Christ in the form of a dance, the text has been set by composers from Gustav Holst to Igor Stravinsky; British composer John Gardner’s lively arrangement for choir, organ and optional percussion, written in the 1960s, is the version that found itself repeatedly voted for by our choral experts. ‘Gardner combines a catchy melody with simple but ingenious rhythmic patterns to produce an irresistible setting of this traditional English text,’ enthuses Stephen Darlington, choral director at Christ Church, Oxford. ‘You cannot fail to smile on hearing it.'

Did you know 'Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day' inspired the popular hymn , ‘Lord of the Dance’? We named ‘Lord of the Dance’ one of the best school hymns of all time

We named 'Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day one of the best Christmas carols ever

What are the lyrics to 'Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day'?

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 (sung after each verse)
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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.


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