First Person or Third Person?

christ-dancing_heimo-christian-haikala“Lord of the Dance” and “Here I Am, Lord”


As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea– for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  Mark 1:16-18


Some people think storytelling works best in the first person (“I”) as opposed to third person (“they”); that first person point of view seems more intimate.  In “Lord of the Dance,” I find the first person narrative to be very personal; we are immersed in Jesus’ story, his experiences, triumphs, and sorrows.  Sydney Carter, who wrote the words and chose the Shaker tune Simple Gifts as their setting, says:

 I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us…The fact that many Christians have regarded dancing as a bit ungodly…does not mean that Jesus did.  The Shakers didn’t…Dancing, for them, was a spiritual activity.“


This week we focus on the second verse; Jesus assures the disciples (and us) that he will lead us:

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.

 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.


In “Here I Am, Lord,” a popular hymn written by Dan Schutte, the verses (call) are in the first person of Jesus, and the refrain (response) is in the first person of us.  Schutte says of the hymn,  “From the very beginning, people loved the piece and clearly identified with the dialogue between God and us that is the core of the song.“  A poll conducted by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians found among members that Schutte’s hymn came in second among “songs that make a difference.”


I, the Lord of sea and sky,  I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them? Whom shall I send?


Here I am Lord, Is it I, Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.  I will hold Your people in my heart.


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