Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
for SSATTB with Treble/Soprano solo
Words: Anonymous (from William Sandys “Christmas Carols, Old and New” 1833)
Music by Edward Caine
William Sandys’ 1833 collection of carols is a useful source for all kinds of Christmas texts, and contains some of the most well known that have been set by modern composers. Amongst the collection are many contemporary carols, quite a number of Middle English carols with no attributed source and some French texts as well.
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day is by an anonymous poet and looks back on the life of Jesus Christ from a first person perspective. It is unique in this way of telling the Christian story, and demands a rhythmic setting,
Initially I set this in a 6/8 meter, but with the same rhythms in mind. It never quite satisfied the material, and my feeling was that a choir would struggle to perform against the 6/8 meter, and I dropped the setting after the first verse.
Years later while working for Jeffrey Skidmore, Artistic Director of Ex Cathedra, we were talking about Robert Stevenson’s transcription of Juan de Araujo’s piece Los Coflades. Stevenson’s transcription halves the note values and places the meter in 6/8, which is clearly inadequate for the nature of the text. Jeffrey talked a bit about his own edition and how he conducts the piece, using a series of 3/8, 6/8 and 3/4 hemiola divisions. This inspired me to think again about the way my setting of dancing day should be notated. The result is this finished setting.