Simple Gifts (1848)

               by Elder Joseph Brackett (1797-1882)     

According to the American Preservation Society, it is t is incorrect to call it this tune a  "Traditional Shaker hymn." It was written for what the Shakers called a "Quick Dance" and sung and danced at a lively tempo in their worship service. The Shaker church leader who wrote both the words and the tune was  Elder Joseph Brackett Jr. . He composed his song in 1848. It is not accurate to use the title of "The Gift to be Simple."┬áThe Shakers did not use that title when the song was copied down during the 19th century and Brackett only wrote one┬áverse. The extra verses you might find Online are by non-Shaker composers.

The most famous version of this tune in popular culture was Aaron Copland's inclusion of it in his "Ballet for Martha  (1944) which eventually became "Appalachian Spring." This arrangement adds the sonorities of the Flugelhorn to this beautiful melody to accentuate the lyrical side of it.

See below for the tune in it's simple hymn form.  

Simple Gifts

Elder Joseph Brackett Jr. .