Monday, November 10, 2008

Simple Gifts

The Shakers is a religious group with the belief that everyone could find God from within himself or herself, without external help from meditation, rituals, or clergy. It is a branch developed from the Quakers. Because their belief in celibacy, today there are only a handful of them left. What is interesting to me about the Shakers is their devotion to simplicity, living a simple life. One of their most famous folksong is called "Simple Gifts".

"Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine in 1848. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:
'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.
And here is a very nice video about the Shakers and performance of "Simple Gifts" with guitar.

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