A Gift from Dorothy Fields


Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers performed in Swing Time. And Dorothy Fields wrote her first film-lyric hit, “The Way You Look Tonight” which earned an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

In the basic context, in Swing Time, Penny (Ginger Rogers’ character) was washing her hair not feeling too pretty. Lucky (Fred Astaire’s character) was in the next room crooning to her these lyrics.

Some day, when I’m awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.

Yes you’re lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft,
There is nothing for me but to love you,
And the way you look tonight.

With each word your tenderness grows,
Tearing my fear apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,
It touches my foolish heart.

Lovely, never, ever change.
Keep that breathless charm.
Won’t you please arrange it ?
Cause I love you, just the way you look tonight.

Lucky saw Penny past the circumstances. He saw her.

I wonder if Dorothy Fields imagined how far that song would go. I can’t count how many covers of this song there are. But there are many. And the lyrics transcend the movie scenes they were presented in.

I’ve heard this song played at romantic restaurants with a certain perspective of love that shines through. I’ve also heard this song played at wedding receptions. There was a specific reception I was at recently where I was able to see Christ tangibly in a most wonderful view of a family.

A Father’s Eye

I am not a parent yet. I am a youth soccer coach. I work with boys teams and with girls teams. There’s something about boys, from a father’s perspective, I’ve seen as they grow and develop. But specifically for this article, the way a father interacts with her daughter during the years I have worked with female teams has left a lasting impression on me.

I’ve seen girls be put in boxes and made to pursue goals of the father. I have also seen freedom from fathers who have allowed space for discovery.

At this recent wedding my wife and I attended we were able to witness two wonderful discoveries. One of my former soccer players’ walked down the aisle. She was not the main attraction, however. She was a bridesmaid. I sat across the aisle from her father.

As she walked down the aisle to take her place as a bridesmaid, I would periodically look towards her father. The moment the doors opened for this bridesmaid to begin her waltz down the aisle, this father’s face lit up in a way I have never seen this father. I have known him for many years. I saw a gaze that, as a non-parent, I do not understand. However, it was supremely tangible. His face beamed as if she was the star of the show. I was thankful to have been able to see him respond to his beautiful daughter gliding down the aisle with the attention of the crowd eagerly awaiting the bride-to-be. Sheer joy radiated from his being. This joy was brighter than the candles on the stage. He was delighted at the way his daughter looked that night.

The doors closed and the main event began.

A Groom’s Arm

Then came the bride escorted by her father. In a stately procession, with smiles abounding, this father walks his daughter to the front of the aisle and hands her to her new escort.

The ceremony finished up and then it was time to celebrate. Everyone drove to the reception location, of course. The first dance commenced and the groom carefully proceeded to dance with his lovely bride. As a precious, new treasure, he moved his bride around the dance floor with gentleness and love in a way that was beautiful to those of us watching. He was discovering his wife throughout this dance in a new way.

Sure they practiced. Sure they danced before. But this was different. They were now one. The discovery of how feet move together, and lights, and a band, and people watching them together! That is a new space for every new married couple. I loved watching this discovery happening in front of me. My wife and were able to reminisce of our first dance together as a married couple.

A Father’s Hand

Some things happened for meals and entertainment and such. And then it was time. The father was able to reunite with his newly-named daughter. As the band played “The Way You Look Tonight,” this ensued on the dance floor…

Now, I won’t speak too much into this video, but I will say, the look on the daughter’s face is priceless. The father knows her and moves her in a way that expresses the fact that he has danced with her before. She trusts his movements. She follows his lead. There’s even a point where her feet get a little tangled. He patiently helps and waits for her to get her feet free. He dances her all over the floor and presents his beautiful daughter to the crowd in a way that reveals her potential.

The joy on her face is such a beautiful picture of us as sons and daughters of God. He dances with us. He is delighted with us. He knows us and our potential…because He put it in us! When we get a little tangled up in life, He is patient and helps us find freedom. He dances with us all over the dance floor of Life. His desire is to express Himself through His children on the dance floor.

So, thank you Dorothy Fields for writing this wonderful song that has inspired many. It has inspired love stories and first dances. It has also inspired a father-daughter dance that I will not soon forget.

Bride of Christ: May we never, ever change and may we keep that breathless charm as we enjoy our dance with our Father.


  1. Huey at Gingerology · July 19, 2012

    Great post, Mark! Never really thought of this song in this context before, but it makes perfect sense… I have a daughter who is almost 11, and this day is gonna be here a LOT sooner than I’m ready for…hope I can keep it all in ‘context’ like this dad… and remember the ‘big picture’ of our Father’s perfect love for us…

    Keep up the great work!

    And, please drop by my blog, Gingerology at jwhueyblog.blogspot.com – Gingerology -the beautiful science of Miss Ginger Rogers!

  2. Trevor Honeycutt · July 24, 2012

    Wow. Very encouraging reminder of the Lord’s delight in His bride, and the Father’s delight in His children. Thx bro!

    • marklchampion · July 24, 2012

      Thanks for reading, Trevor. His Bride is beautiful and radiant, dressed in white, spotless. His delight in us is free and powerful. Thank you for your expression of Christ through His Bride.

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