A major new publication
with an extensive amount of music material!
The publication is dedicated to the memory of...
Sister Ruth Mildred Barker (1897-1990)
Sabbathday Lake, Maine
© Photograph by Gail M. Hall, 1983
"GIVE GOOD GIFTS": Shaker Music in the 20th Century (PineTree Press, 2015) is a summary of the research collected over many years by Roger Lee Hall, an ethnomusicologist, composer and singer.
He is one of the foremost authorities on Shaker music, having studied and performed it for over 40 years.
For his many achievements in preserving American music from the past Mr. Hall was honored to be included in these distinguished directories:
Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in America
The United Society of Believers, better known as the Shakers, are America's oldest surviving communal society, and began back in the 1780s. The last remaining Shaker community is located at Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
All the items for this publication are available on an informational DVD with 200 files, including two music albums and six video clips.
Several of the Shaker spirituals which Mr. Hall has researched have become quite popular:
"Welcome, Welcome Precious Gospel Kindred" - a greeting song by Sister Rosetta Cummings sung frequently at Friends of the Shakers Annual Meetings at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, and at Shaker Seminars and other events held at various locations.
"Give Good Gifts" - a Shaker gospel song composed by Sister Martha J. Anderson probably in the early 1890s at the Mt. Lebanon, NY Shaker community.
"A Prayer for the Captive" - a pacifist hymn received in a dream by Sister Cecilia DeVere and reportedly sung on the day of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral in 1865. For more about this hymn -- click here
"Simple Gifts" (aka: "Tis the gift to be simple") - the best known Shaker song by Elder Joseph Brackett at Alfred, Maine in 1848 and made popular from Aaron Copland's arrangement in his ballet score, Appalachian Spring, in 1944. An excerpt from Mr. Hall's interview with Aaron Copland is on the "Gentle Words" music album listed below.
Contents of the DVD with files in Microsoft Word and mp3 audio:
- Image gallery - pictures including 20th century Shakers at Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine; Shaker music manuscripts and edited music, and music collections.
- Lyrics book:
"Gentle Words" (PDF) with background notes for 25 representative Shaker spirituals
performed and recorded
during the 20th century. Also, an exclusive interview in 1980
with the distinguished composer, Aaron Copland, about his arrangements of "Simple Gifts."
These are the Shaker spirituals included in the book:
1. WELCOME, WELCOME
2. COME LIFE, SHAKER LIFE
3. MOUNT ZION
4. RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE
5. ODE TO CONTENTMENT
6. WHILE WE'RE MARCHING
7. SIMPLE GIFTS
8. COME LET US CHANT THE MELODY SWEET (DOXOLOGY)
9. A DREAM
10. A PRAYER FOR THE CAPTIVE
11. MILLENNIAL PRAISE
12. GENTLE WORDS
13. LOVE IS LITTLE
14. CELESTIAL PRAISES
15. CELESTIAL CHOIR
16. MAY I SOFTLY WALK AND WISELY SPEAK
VARIATIONS ON A SHAKER MARCHING TUNE (music: Roger Lee Hall)
18. LIVING SOULS, LET'S BE MARCHING
19. PROGRESSION (PROGRESS)
O MY SWEET SHAKER HOME
I WANT TO BE LIKE THE LILY
22. O WE'RE A BAND OF SISTERS
23. GIVE GOOD GIFTS
24. THE HUMBLE HEART
25. WE WILL ALL GO HOME WITH YOU
- Articles and Papers:
All of the articles and papers in this section were written by Mr. Hall between 1975 and 2015.
There are four articles:
--"Religion in song"
--"Shaker hymnody: An American Communal Tradition"
--"The Story of ' Simple Gifts'"
--"Singing at Shaker Village Work Camp"
Also two scholarly papers by Mr. Hall:
- "Inside-Outside: Two Kentucky Shaker Songs," presented at the Communal Studies Association Annual Conference in South Union, Kentucky in 2011
- "Give Godd Gifts: The meaning of 'gifts' in two Shaker songs." presented at the Spring Shaker Forum at Enfield Shaker Museum in New Hampshire in 2015.
- Sheet music collection:
1. "A Welcome Song" -- Polly M. Rupe, Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, 1869
2. Hymn: "Typical Dancing" --
Richard McNemar/ tune: Polly M. Rupe, Pleasant Hill, 1809
3. Hymn: "Farewell Vain World" -- Samuel Hooser, Pleasant Hill, 1833
4. Song: "I Want to be Living & Free" -- South Union, Kentucky
5. Hymn: "The Morning Sun" -- South Union, 1847 (arr. Roger Hall)
6. Hymn: "The Millennium" -- South Union, 1847 (arr. Roger Hall)
7. Hymn: "How Happy Are They" --
Watervliet, Ohio, 1833
8. Hymn: "Invitation to Souls" -- Matilda A. Butler, White Water, Ohio, 1846
9. Hymn: "On The Birthday of Mother Ann" --
James S. Prescott, North Union, Ohio, 1850
10. Song: "A Dream" -- Harvey L. Eades, Union Village, Ohio
11. Hymn: "Doxology" -- Oliver C. Hampton, Union Village, 1856
12. Song: "My Dear Companions Let's Move On" -- Union Village, 1850s
- Two music albums:
"Gentle Words" - A Shaker Music Sampler (same 25 titles as listed above)
"Willow Tree" - an album of Shaker music arrangements
by Esta Blood, Jack Bomer,
Bill Crofut, Roger Lee Hall,
Marleen Montgomery, and Ruth Morriss.
Also on the DVD are videos of six Shaker spirituals, arranged by Roger Lee Hall:
"A New Year's Prayer"
"May I Softly Walk"
"My Shaker Home"
"We Will All Go Home Woth You"
All six Shaker spirituals are also available on a CD with many Premiere Recordings:
Celestial Praises - A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals
This informational DVD contains illustrated lyrics book,
sheet music collection,
two music albums and
six video clips
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Give Good Gifts DVD
For any questions, write to:
Give Good Gifts DVD
Another informational computer disc is available
about the best known Shaker song, with music examples and video clips,
A letter from October 19, 2015:
"Thanks so much for the donation of your reproductions of Shaker music for the Center for Communal Studies. I had an opportunity to show them ("Give Good Gifts" and "Simple Gifts" DVDs) to the Center Board when it met. Everyone was so pleased with your thoughtfulness and generosity."
Donald E. Pitzer, Acting Director
Center for Communal Studies
University of Southern Indiana
See other publications at
Shaker music books and articles