…to turn, turn will be our delight

A Shaker hymn composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett of Gorham, Maine,

It was first published in The Gift to be Simple: Shaker Rituals and Songs.  Simple Gifts was a work song sung by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (more commonly called the Shakers, an offshoot of the Quakers).

The world knows the tune now thanks to Aaron Copland’s score for the Martha Graham ballet, Appalachian Spring (1944). Here are two versions of Simple Gifts:

The first recorded by Joel Cohen and the Boston Camerata at the still extent Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine;

The second by the pleasing pairing of the ever-consistent Yo-Yo Ma and the ever-versatile Alison Krauss.



Simple Gifts

‘Tis a gift to be simple

‘Tis a gift to be free

‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be

And when we find ourselves in the place just right

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight

When true simplicity is gained

To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed

To turn, turn will be our delight

‘Til by turning, turning we come round right


‘Tis a gift to be loved and that love to return

‘Tis a gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn

And when we expect of others what we try to live each day

Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say

‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be

‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”

And when we hear what others really think and really feel

Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real

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