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Choral ~ General ~ with Keyboard



“Simple Gifts”  (“'Tis a Gift to Be Simple”)

(An arrangement of the American Shaker song)



SOUND CLIP   /   YOUTUBE VIDEO   /   SCORE SAMPLE

SCORING:  SATB (some divisi), acc. by piano

DURATION:  ca. 4:35   —   DIFFICULTY:  3/5   —   PAGES IN PDF SCORE:  17

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In this arrangement of the beloved Shaker song, the first two verses are soft and gentle, as you might expect. However, the next two verses provide a welcomed contrast.

In the third verse, the chorus sings sturdily in four-part harmony (with some open fifths), recalling the style of a shape-note song.

And the majestic music of the fourth verse acts as a “summing up” of the song's message — a celebration of the gifts of simplicity, freedom, and love.

However, the piece ends softly, with the chorus singing these words, gently and confidently: “'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be!”

Simple Gifts

Verses 1 & 4:  American Shaker text  /  Verses 2 & 3:  by Peter Bloesch

Complete text:

’Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free,
’Tis a gift to come down where we 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 gained,
     
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
      To turn, turn, will be our delight,
      Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

’Tis a gift to be gentle, ’tis a gift to be wise,
’Tis a gift to see God’s wonder with our eyes.
And when we find ourselves in the heart of Love,
We will share our desire for peace from above.
      (Refrain)

’Tis a gift to be loving to our neighbor and friend,
’Tis a gift to be in union to the end.
And when we have the grace to stand in the light,
We will lavish our neighbors with love and delight.
      (Refrain)

’Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free,
’Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
      (Refrain)

’Tis a gift to be free!
’Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be!