The feast of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu is well-known for its Sinulog dance. It is a worship dance, but many are still not convinced that it is appropriate in Catholic worship. But the Bible tells us that worship through dance exists even in the Old Testament. As C.S. Lewis said, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
C.S. Lewis was referring to the following text in the second book of Samuel (6:12-15, 17-19):
David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David amid festivities. As soon as the bearers of the ark of the LORD had advanced six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. Then David, girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the LORD with abandon, as he and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn. The ark of the LORD was brought in and set in its place within the tent David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. When he finished making these offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. He then distributed among all the people, to each man and each woman in the entire multitude of Israel, a loaf of bread, a cut of roast meat, and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.
It’s like how the Santo Nino Catholic Community celebrates the feast of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu every single year. Right after the processional entrance, we incense the image of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu and we dance.
There are other texts in the Bible that clearly show the existence of dancing for the Lord, it is always identified as an expression of joyful praise:
Psalm 150 “Praise the LORD. .Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 149:3-4 “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”
Psalm 30:11-12: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
Ecclesiastes 3: 4 “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance....”
Jeremiah 31:4 “I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.”
Jeremiah 31:12-13 “They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
Lamentation 5:15 “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.”
Exodus 15:20-21 “Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”