Simple Gifts was written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848. 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).
Ella's class sung this song today as part of her school's Thanksgiving celebration and feast. It was perfect. The whole school had a potluck this morning at the community center. The younger grades sang and the older kids played their recorders. Ella's class signed this song as they sang, and I thought the song really reflects what the school is all about. I'm sure that is why they chose it.
'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,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,'
Til by turning, turning we come round right
'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the 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.