Simple Gifts Lyrics and Melody

 

The melody of the Shaker hymn Simple Gifts was used by Aaron Copeland in his Appalachian Spring ballet suite, which in turn was used as the theme music for the CBS Reports television documentary series. The melody has long been a favorite of mine, but until recently I could not remember the lyrics to the song beyond the first two lines, having only ever heard it sung once. As it turns out, the lyrics are, I think, an eloquent statement of a sentiment with a universal appeal.

 

Simple Gifts

 

'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.

Refrain: 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 o-thers what we try to live each day,

Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

 

Refrain:

 

'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. Refrain:

 

Click here to listen to the Simple Gifts melody