The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Joyful, all you nations rise!'

Children dance the Christmas carol

"One," "two," "three," "four," "six," "seven".... Young voices call out their numbers from the back of the small sanctuary of Calvary Lutheran Church in the Bronx, N.Y. It's Saturday afternoon practice for the children's dance choir.

"Where's 'five'?" interrupts Ruby Wiles, pastor of Calvary.

"Five" pops up. And the count-off starts over again: "one" to "nine" — no skips. The pastor smiles. She encourages, "Remember your number. You gotta jump in order. You gotta look like firecrackers!"

She nods to Alex Tweed who starts playing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing on the piano. The children take off down the aisle, running to the altar area. They crouch. Then spring up one by one like, well, like firecrackers, showing what the familiar words "Joyful, all you nations rise; join the triumph of the skies" really mean.

The "skies" for the Christmas worshipers at this 70-year-old church will be filled with the shining eyes, flying hair and flashing limbs of their sons and daughters, grandkids and neighborhood children. All members of this dance choir are children who enjoy participating in worship — and it's catching.

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