Lord of the Dance
Sydney Carter, arr. Steve Pilkington

Composer Shaker melody, adapt. Sydney Carter, arr. Steve Pilkington
Text Sydney Carter
Voicing Unison/two-pt., kybd., handbells, glock, hand drum
Topic Children, Dance, Life of Christ, New Life
Price $2.50 (U.S.)
Length 6' 45" Released 7/15
Catalog no. 422-815
Difficulty Mod. diff.

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Description Sydney Carter’s beloved “Lord of the Dance” adaptation of the Shaker Tune “Simple Gifts” is given a fun and joyous arrangement by Stephen Pilkington combining unison (or two-part) choir with keyboard, handbells, glockenspiel, and hand drum. While originally written (and very suitable) for children’s choir, it is certainly possible for other sorts of vocal forces as well. The varied and active accompaniment provides great interest around the easy vocal parts.

Anthem text
I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth.
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee, but they would not dance, and they would not follow me;
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
they came with me and the Dance went on. Refrain

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame,
the holy people said it was a shame;
they whipped and they stripped and they hung me high;
and they left me there on a cross to die. Refrain

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
it's hard to dance with the devil on your back;
they buried my body and they thought I'd gone,
but I am the Dance and I still go on. Refrain

They cut me down and I leapt up high,
I am the life, that'll never, never die;
I'll live in you if you'll live in me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. Refrain

--Sydney Carter

Words © 1963 Stainer & Bell, Ltd. (admin. Hope Publishing Company. www.hopepublishing.com)

review copy

Review "All five verses of the familiar Shaker tune matched with Sydney Carter's text that helped popularize it among congregations appear with an appealing arrangement that includes percussion of glockenspiel, handbells, and hand drum in addition to the keyboard. The latter seems designed most for piano, and use of the organ would lose some of the percussive bounce that distinguishes the accompaniment. The choir sings melody throughout, and the only second voice appearances are in two striking descants for the final two refrains. Pilkington suggests freedom in the performance of the arrangement, allowing for solos to sing some verses, the omission of the percussion, use of adult voices (bass or treble), melody only without the descants, or even using the arrangement with congregational voices. This joyful setting would work well with beginning choirs since the only requirement is to sing the very recognizable melody. More accomplished choirs would also enjoy the spirited flavor of this fine arrangement." -AAM Journal, April 2021


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