‘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.
This little song was written by Elder Joseph Brackett at the Alfred, Maine community of Shakers. Some will be familiar with the simple tune because of its inclusion in Aaron Copeland’s work Appalachian Spring.
It seemed so appropriate to me that composer John Williams also used tune in his composition called Air and Simple Gifts which was played at the celebratory inauguration of President Barack Obama. Itzhak Perlman on violin, Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Gabriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet had to sync their instruments because the cold weather prevented them from staying in tune, and yet the melody and sentiments could not have been more perfectly chosen.
This is a time when we are searching for simplicity, perhaps even being nudged energetically into that simplicity. We are turning and hoping that we all come down right, in the valley of love and delight.
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