The spiritual music of the Shakers. as might be expected, is notable for its simplicity and straightforward nature...anyone with an interest in American religious music
will find the material both interesting and moving.
--Rick Anderson, All Music Guide
LP Box Set: The Shaker Heritage (1961)
2-CD Set: Let Zion Move (1999)
The most important recorded legacy of the United Society of Believers (better known as The Shakers) began in 1960. According to Darryl Thompson, Bill Randle was asked by museum curator, Charles (Bud) Thompson at Canterbury Shaker Village to supervise and record a series of public seminars given by the Shaker sisters at Canterbury about their heritage. The lectures had been taped the previous year by Cressy Goodwin and Carl Bell but were not of sufficient archival quality. So Bill Randle offered to tape all the lectures. One of the Shaker speakers in the lecture series was Bertha Lindsay (shown in picture at left with Nancy and Bud Thompson)
Bill Randle was an influential Cleveland radio broadcaster who at one time was one of the top rated disc jockeys in the U.S.
In 1956, Randle introduced Elvis Presley for the first time on national television on "Stage Show," hosted by the Dorsey Brothers.
In 1961, Bill Randle produced the massive 10 LP box set titled The Shaker Heritage. The cover art for the LP set (shown above) was by Tom Wilson, later known for his Ziggy comic strip and also for adding (thanks to Bill Randle's suggestion) electric guitar, electric bass and drums to the Simon and Garfunkel hit, "Sounds of Silence." Randle was mostly responsible for the success of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's recording of "Battle Hymn of the Republic,"a Grammy Award winner for 1959.
Much more about him is available on this CD-ROM:
The Bill Randle Chronicles:
From Electric Elvis to The Shakers
This important 10 record set was never released commercially and the 250 copies were distributed to libraries and museums for their archives.
The Shaker Heritage LP set has been out-of-print for many years and has become a collector's item of great value.
Now all the music from the LP set (sides 13-16) plus the interview with Sister Mildred Barker (side 19) have been re-issued on...
2 CD Set: Let Zion Move: Music of the Shakers (1999)
This 2 CD collection, released by Rounder Records, includes 40 Shaker spirituals sung and played on the organ by Shaker sisters from Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Also featured are a few Shaker songs and hymns sung by Charles Thompson, then museum curator at Canterbury Shaker Village. The second CD has a history of Shaker music narrated by Sister Mildred Barker and Sister Lillian Phelps. The interviews and music were gathered over a twenty year period.
The first interviews were done in 1960-61 by Bill Randle for The Shaker Heritage LP set.
Additional interviews were conducted in 1972 and 1980 by Roger Hall.
with Eldress Bertha Lindsay and Sister Lillian Phelps in Canterbury, New Hampshire. And in 1980 an interview with Sister Mildred Barker at Sabbathday Lake, Maine. All of this material was compiled by Shaker music scholar, Roger Hall, who edited and wrote the background notes for the Let Zion Move CD set.
These are a few of Shaker spirituals included on the CD set:
"Let Zion Move"
"Let My Name Be Recorded"
"I See The Light Before Me"
"Precious Gospel Kindred"
(these five titles by Mary Ann Gillespie)
"Abiding Care" (Dorothy Durgin)
"O Tarry Not" (words: Dorothea Cochran/ music: Lillian Phelps)
"Star of Purity" (words: Susanna Brady/ music: Ezra T. Leggett)
"Lead Me On To Greater Victory" (Otis Sawyer)
"Prayer Universal" (Dorothy Durgin) -- solo by Charles Thompson
The CD set includes an attractive 72 page illustrated booklet designed by Susan Marsh, with examples of Shaker music and the words to all 40 Shaker spirituals,
plus a bibliography and discography, all compiled by Shaker music scholar, Roger Hall.
To order this 2 CD set from Amazon -- click here
See also these links for memorial tributes to past Shakers:
Sister R. Mildred Barker
Sister Marie Burgess
Eldress Bertha Lindsay
Sister Lillian Phelps
Shakers in the 20th Century
An informative illustrated book of historical material and lyrics to 25 of the best known Shaker spirituals, and also Shaker music examples are available on a multimedia CD. The book is dedicated to the memory of Sister Mildred Barker and is titled,
"Give Good Gifts"
Listen to the Shakers speaking about and singing their music
on these two CDs:
"Blended Together" - Interview with the Shakers
"Gentle Words" - A Shaker Music Sampler
If you are looking for Shaker music to perform
or to include
in an article or a book,
see the 56 Shaker songs and hymns listed at the
Shaker Music Series
Looking for arrangements to perform with a soloist or chorus?
Click this link:
Shaker music arrangements
Lectures and Workshops
Are you interested in scheduling an entertaining music program
for your school, college, church, historical society,
or other organization?
For more information, click on this link:
Music Lectures and Workshops
If you have any questions or comments,
Music of the Shakers
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