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Sydney Carter passed away


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I didn't know about him until I saw his obituary. But even in death, his life story is so inspiring, at least to me. I just spent one hour getting to know more about him, and it touched me very much. So I'm sharing it here. You don't have to like it or anything...


Author of 'Lord of the Dance' Dies at 88

Wed Mar 17,10:03 AM ET



LONDON - Sydney Carter, a skeptical Christian whose song "Lord of the Dance" has entered many of the world's hymnals, has died. He was 88.




Carter died Saturday in London, said his publisher, Stainer & Bell. The cause of death was not given, but Carter had suffered from Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites) for several years.



In a survey in the 1990s, "Lord of the Dance" was rated the fifth most popular song at school religious assemblies in Britain. Carter's "One More Step" ranked No. 1, and "When I Needed a Neighbor" was sixth.



"They are songs which can be sung in a Christian context, but they all had to mean something to me because I was often on the edge of not believing," Carter said in an interview with The Times of London in 1996.



"Lord of the Dance" used an American Shaker tune, "Simple Gifts," and Carter said the words were partly inspired by a statue of the Hindu deity Shiva which he owned.



"I did not think the churches would like it at all. I thought many people would find it pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian," he once said.



Carter's skeptical attitude was reflected in the titles of two of his books, "The Rock of Doubt" and "Dance in the Dark."



"Bibles, legends, history are signposts: they are pointing to the future, not the past. Do not embrace the past or it will turn into an idol," he wrote.



One of this most controversial songs, "Friday Morning," put words in the mouth of a robber who was crucified with Jesus:



"You can blame it on to Pilate, you can blame it on the Jews,



"You can blame it on the Devil, it's God I accuse.



"It's God they ought to crucify, instead of you and me,



"I said to the carpenter a-hanging on the tree."



Carter served in World War II with the Friends Ambulance Unit, run by Quakers, in the Middle East and Greece, where he was impressed by traditional Greek dancing.



In the 1950s, he wrote material for the popular British entertainer Donald Swann. One of Carter's hits was "My Last Cigarette," and his "I Want a Little Bomb Like You" was a marching song for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.



His anti-war song "Crow on the Cradle" was recorded by Judy Collins in 1962.



Carter is survived by his wife, Neela, and their son.








On the Net:


Carter profile, http://www.stainer.co.uk/carter.html

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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 wouldn't follow me.

I danced for the fishermen,

For James and John -

They came with me

And the Dance went on.



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 on high,

And they left me there

On a Cross to die.



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.



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.



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Simple Gifts

a Shaker hymn



'Tis the gift to be simple,

'Tis the gift to be free,

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

It will be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,

to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed

To turn, turn, will be our delight,

'Til by turning, turning, we come round right.

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