Song - Simple Gifts (Tis a Gift to be Simple) : a Traditional Shaker Song & Variations

"Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine.

These are the lyrics to his one-verse song, (with simple ukulele chords at the beginning of each line):

F: 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free

C: 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

F: And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

C: 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

F: When true simplicity is gained,

C: To bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed,

F: To turn, turn will be our delight,

C: Till by turning, turning we come round right.[2]

Several Shaker manuscripts indicate that this is a "Dancing Song" or a "Quick Dance."

"Turning" is a common theme in Religion, but the references to "turning" in the last two lines

have also been identified as dance instructions.[1]

The tune was written by Joseph Brackett (1797–1882) who first joined the Shakers at Gorham, Maine,

when his father's farm helped to form the nucleus of a new Shaker settlement.[3]

A manuscript of Mary Hazzard of the New Lebanon, New York, Shaker community records this original version of the melody:


1. Song by Jewel
2. A Ukulele version
3. Handmade Harp version

Have a Happy Holiday Season with your family and friends and music...