A Brief History of Dance in Worship

Christian dance has persisted throughout the history of the church, despite many official decrees against it. Christian churches that have incorporated dance and other stylized gestures in worship have benefited from a profound way of expressing their praise and enacting the gospel message. Dance as worship is one manifestation of the Spirit’s ongoing activity in the church.

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Jubilation Through the Seventeenth Century

Jubilation, the wordless prayer of ordinary worshipers in the “age of faith,” occupied an even greater place in the prayer lives of mystics during that period and the centuries that followed. The writers speak of jubilation and spiritual inebriation in referring to the entire spectrum of spontaneous bodily and vocal prayer which might include glossolalia, inspired songs, dancing, and intense bodily movement. Until the seventeenth century, this kind of prayer was mentioned by the majority of religious writers and was experienced by most of the well-known mystics.

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