A major 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 Hall, 1983
Mr. Hall presented an illustrated music talk with singing
focused on Shaker women composers
on August 5, 2017
at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire.
The title of his paper was:
"Give Good Gifts"
The Simplicity of Shaker Music
For more information about the day long event,
"Shaker Inspirations - A Day of Music and Dance" -- click here
"GIVE GOOD GIFTS" (PineTree Press, 2015) contains a summary of music research collected and edited during the 20th century 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. Read about his many research projects and publications -- click here
The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing (better known as the Shakers), originated in the area around Manchester, England and led by Mother Ann Lee, who emigrated to the USA in 1774. Their first settlement was at Niskayuna (later: Watervleit), New York and their first organized Shaker community was in 1787 at New Lebanon, New York. 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 Eldress 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. The song has been edited and arranged by Mr. Hall and performed on several CDs: "Gentle Words" and "Celestial Praises."
[photography courtesy of The Shaker Collection, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York]
--"Give Good Gifts" (f.l.: Give good gifts, one to another) - a late 19th century Shaker Gospel song, formerly thought to be by an unidentifed Shaker composer, has now been identified by Mr. Hall as composed by Sister Martha Jane Anderson [shown in picture seated on the left side] in the Eldresses Shop at the Mount Lebanon, NY Shaker community. This song has been featured on National Public Radio and other media outlets and was first recorded by The Sampler Chorus on the CD: "Joy of Angels: Shaker Spirituals for Christmas and The New Year" --click here
--"A Prayer for the Captive" (f.l.: Dark is the cloud that rest over the nation)- a pacifist hymn received in a dream by Sister Cecilia DeVere in 1862 and reportedly sung at all Shaker communities on the ocassion of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral in 1865. For about this hymn -- click here
--"Simple Gifts" (f.l.: 'Tis the gift to be simple) - the best known Shaker song, composed by Elder Joseph Brackett Jr. at Alfred, Maine in 1848 and made popular by 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.
This Shaker dance song was creditted to Elder Joseph in an article by Sister Mildred Barker in 1967 -- click here
Contents of the "Give Good Gifts" 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) -- a book 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, click the links for music streaming (listening only):
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*
PIANO VARIATIONS ON A SHAKER MARCHING TUNE*
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*
* = arranged by Roger lee Hall
- Articles and Papers:
--"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 Good Gifts: The meaning of 'gifts' in two Shaker songs." presented at the
Spring Shaker Forum in Enfield, 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)
performed by Shaker sisters, Plymouth Church Choir, The Sampler Trio, a concert pianist,
and a high school chorus.
"Willow Tree" - an album of Shaker music arrangements
by Esta Blood,
Roger Lee Hall,
Marleen Montgomery, Ruth Morriss and others.
Concert videos of Shaker spirituals
by Roger Lee Hall:
"May I Softly Walk"
"My Shaker Home"
"We Will All Go Home With You"
"Variations on a Shaker Marching Tune" - for piano
All six Shaker spirituals are also available on a CD
with many Premiere Recordings:
Celestial Praises - A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals
This informational DVD (PTM 1035)
contains the illustrated lyrics book,
sheet music collection,
two music albums and
six video clips
All this materials for one low price!
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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 dated 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