The “Lord of the Dance” is the School’s favourite hymn bar none. It works in part because of its catchy refrain and because it is a story song; essentially the story of Christ told in the first person with a hint of its application to us in our lives. The melody is based on the American Shaker song, ‘Simple Gifts’ (1848), immortalized in Aaron Copland’s ballet, Appalachian Spring, originally commissioned for the dancer Martha Graham in 1943-44 and then reconfigured as a suite in 1945.
We come to the end of another School year. When I reflect on Chapel, the image of the dance comes quickly to mind because it suggests the reconciliation of tensions and oppositions in a unity of understanding and purpose. This is part and parcel of our wrestling with the questions about the ethical which requires a willingness to be challenged about our assumptions and those of contemporary culture, a willingness to give a voice to the wisdom of the ages and to let ideas dance in our minds.
It is easy to note the diverse cultures and languages from which our students and faculty come. It is not so easy to discern the morning miracle of our being together united in the struggle to understand the deep questions about reality. To be reminded of the world in its Greek and Hellenic sense as a cosmos, an ordered whole or in its Judeo-Christian and Islamic sense as created and good belongs to the dance of the understanding in which we just might glimpse what C.S. Lewis called the Tao, the path of wisdom. The path of wisdom is the dance of the understanding when sacred truths begin to live and move in us.
Tomorrow at 9:00 am there is the Encaenia service for the graduating class of 2022 and their parents and grandparents. “Lord of the Dance” will resound for one more time in the Chapel and in the hearts and minds of the class of 2022.
My humble thanks to faculty and students for their attention to the things of Chapel in this up and down year. I wish you all a good and restful summer.
(Rev’d) David Curry
Chaplain, Head of English & ToK teacher
Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy