Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the 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.

Joseph Brackett’s 1848 Shaker dance song wasn’t well known until composer Aaron Copland used it in Martha Graham‘s ballet, Appalachian Spring, first performed in 1944. Since then, the song has been adapted by many folk singers and composers. This first sentence has been broadened from Brackett’s original religious meaning to refer to the whole simplicity movement, or the path away from material possessions.

I remember singing Simple Gifts in middle school choir. I’ve always believed in the point of simple living in today’s context: knowing the difference between needs and wants, enjoying nature and family, spending time consciously. It’s an ongoing process to weed out what is not important — it’s like a writer editing a sentence.

One comment

  • Anonymous
    May 30, 2008 - 10:37 pm | Permalink

    There’s a big difference between wanting something and needing something and many people can’t tell the difference. The “wants” keep us from feeling contented even when we have all the “needs”. We all must learn to live more gently on the earth. We don’t need nearly as much “stuff” as we think we do. Remember, you never really dispose of anything. It’s merely moved from one spot on the earth to another.

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