‘Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you; Will you join the dance?’ - Reflection by Canon Nick


Read Canon Nick's blog post for Tuesday, 8 December 2020.

When our fabulous Director of Music very kindly invited me to choose the music for my installation as a Lay Canon, alongside Canons Saro and Mike, my mind immediately turned to a carol anthem which has resonated with me since the first Christmas I spent as a volunteer in the Music Department nearly thirty years ago:

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;

Christmas at Liverpool Cathedral has always held a special place in my heart as a result of that Christmas all those years ago, my first duty as a Music Department volunteer was making endless egg buns and heating sausage rolls (under the tutelage of the much loved and missed Music Department Administrator, Eleanor Wright), for the annual reception for the choir community after the Christmas Recital, as it was then, and so began my journey with generations of musicians, singers, and of course, the children and their families, many of whom I now rate as the people I most value and trust in my life.

We have always been very proud of the way we celebrate Christmas at Liverpool Cathedral; using the ceremonies established by Dean Dwelly in the 1930s and 1940s, with his now well documented liturgical creativity, the lighting of the tree and blessing of the crib (not the other way round, as is sometimes said!) and the Holly Bough Carol Service, both now preceded by the dramatic, Darkness to Light Advent Procession, so well designed by Ian Tracey and Dean Walters in the 1980s, is a tradition we can all be rightly proud of. 

Of course Christmas 2020 will be slightly different and the music community are desperately sad not to be looking forward to singing to the usual thousands of people whom we welcome to the many Christmas concerts and services during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Choristers across the land can’t believe Christmas will be Christmas without accompanying hundreds or thousands of people singing that famous section which means Christmas really has begun…..

A very wise priest once said to me that it’s alright to play with tradition, as long as you understand that tradition, and we can take comfort from this as we look forward to reinstating our usual way of ‘doing Christmas’ in 2021 whilst possibly having learnt new ways of making Christmas real to our communities through live steaming and online worship amongst other things.

Possibly as a result of that carol anthem, I have always been drawn to the analogy of life as a dance, the Christian life more so; a later interpretation of this in verse and music of course comes in Sidney Carter’s now famous words:

Dance, then, wherever you may be
For 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

In a dance, a formal one at least, each participant knows their steps, their moves, their place, their role in the dance, and so it can be in life, and the Christian life in particular; 2020 of course has seen our dance changed beyond all recognition and this Christmas we will remember all those whose dance has been affected by the pandemic, and especially those whose dance continues on another shore and in a greater light; that place to where all our dances are ultimately called.

Maybe you know someone this Christmas who has lost their place in the dance, forgotten their steps, or just never been part of the dance; if so, invite them back into the dance, it might just mean 2020 will be the year someone’s life is changed forever as mine was that Christmas so many years ago.

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

In the meantime, and on behalf of the choristers, musicians and all the music community, may I wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas when it comes and a much happier and healthier dance throughout 2021.

Canon Nick Basson

While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of this website: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.