Simple Gifts

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What a lovely “coronation hymn”. Maestro John Williams wrote a piece based on Aaron Copeland’s arrangement of the old Shaker Tune “Simple Gifts” in “Appalachian Spring”. Yo-Yo Ma performed along with Itzhak Perlman on violin, Gabriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet.
“Simple Gifts” is an 1848 Shaker song by Elder Joseph Brackett. The lyrics go like this:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the 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 gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

This is a Shaker dance song. Like the Sufis, the Shakers dance, or “shake”, their religion.


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