Sunday, 13 November 2011

I Am The Lord Of The Dance, Said Who?

This seems to be becoming something of a theme on this blog. My first post, for those of you who didn't get the reference, took its title from a Church of England hymn, called To Be A Pilgrim (or, after the first line, He Who Would Valiant Be), which we used to sing at school in assembly, and which opens with the following verse:
He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
I then wrote a post about two Jewish versions of the classic British daytime television programme, Songs of Praise (which, by the way, seems to be the source of the YouTube video linked to above, but I'm not sure about that). I deemed it worthy of mention because of what I considered to be the extremely Christian nature of the show, and how that had always seemed somehow alien and inaccessible to me. It was a bit like seeing... I don't know, Julie Andrews singing in Yiddish? Or some American hip-hop artists sampling Miami Boys Choir. (Two of my favourite clips in the world by the way - hope you enjoy them.)

Now, however, we have the other way around. I did see this video, featuring some Charedim playing Lady Gaga, do the rounds a while back:

And that's all well and good. The video I've just come across, however, is much more... striking, I suppose, because instead of Ultra Orthodox Jews taking the tune of a camp, gaudy, over the top, very-not-Ultra-Orthodox very-not-Jewish song (link: the old Yidden/Dschinghis Khan plagiarism by Mordechai Ben David), it is an Irish Christian hymn. Take a look, and then I'll list some of the reasons that this is, to me at least, so wonderful.

  1. As I said above, this is an explicitly Christian hymn, usually sung in the style and tempo of a Celtic jig.  The "Lord of the Dance" referred to is Jesus, obviously. How many of them know what the song is?
  2. The lyrics are, as hymns go, quite antisemitic, blaming the crucifixion of Jesus on "the holy people" (you can see a few of them in the background of this video) who "whipped" and "stripped" and "hung me high" and "left me there on a cross to die".
  3. The looks on the faces of the chassidim in the background are completely priceless (somewhat like the Shaya and Perry song) - and, contrary to the title of the song, no-one is dancing (until the tune changes).
  4. The violinist has so much more concentration and kavannah when playing the Christian hymn.
  5. You can see through the mechitza from about 1:40 onwards. Scandalous.
  6. The video, according to the description on YouTube, is filmed in London, which just goes to show that the eccentricities of Britishkeit are rivalled nowhere else in the world.
  7. Depending on the sect these guys are from (anyone able to identify?) they may have their own version of Jesus, who is their very own Lord of the Dance.
  8. It's Christian, for God's sake!
Well, those are my thoughts. One of my new favourite clips.

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