Rare field recordings with Shaker musicians
The Shakers are America's oldest surviving religious communal sect, having begun in the 1780s. For over two centuries they composed thousands of songs, hymns and anthems. In the 1970s and 1980s, a series of interviews with Shaker singers took place at the two then remaining Shaker communities of Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
The booklet was first published in 2011 and reprinted in 2013 with corrections. This is the new 3rd edition with additional pictures of Shakers and their music, plus recordings of the interviews with the Shakers. It was written and edited by ethnomusicologist, Roger Lee Hall, one of the foremost authorities on Shaker music having researched and performed it for over 40 years. Read more about his extensive Shaker music research and publications -- CLICK HERE.
The booklet (PDF) contains historical information about his early research in Shaker music in Ohio and kentucky, rare Shaker manuscript illustrations, and his interviews from the 1970s and 1980s with past Shaker musicians from two Shaker communities: Eldress Bertha Lindsay and Sister Lillian Phelps from Canterbury, New Hampshire;
and Sister Mildred Barker from Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
Also, there are several bonus features:
Image gallery with pictures from Canterbury and Sabbathday Lake, and rare music manuscripts.
Audio: field interviews with Shaker sisters at Canterbury and Sabbathday Lake between 1972 and 1987.
All of this material is "blended together" and titled after a favorite Shaker song...
The disc title is named after a song by Elder Joseph Holden (1851-1919) from Mt. Lebanon, New York.
The late Sister R. Mildred Barker said in an interview that this was a favorite song at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community and was sung there for many years.
These interviews with the Shakers took place at Canterbury, New Hampshire in 1972 and 1987; at
Cleveland and Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1974; and at Sabbathday Lake, Maine in 1980:
1. Song: Blended together as one we stand -
Sister Mildred Barker & Sister Frances Carr, Shaker Heights, OH, 1974
2. Song: Mother says O rise be glad -- Eldress Bertha Lindsay, 1972
3. Interview with Eldress Bertha Lindsay in Canterbury, NH, 1972
4. The reed organ
5. The Shaker orchestra
6. Canterbury Shaker singers
7. Canterbury hymnal
8. Elder Henry Blinn
9. Shaker school
10. Song: I will go on my way -- Eldress Bertha Lindsay, 1972
11. Song: May I softly walk and O tarry not 'mid worldly strife, 1972
12. Sister Lillian Phelps tells about her hymn, O tarry not, 1972
13. Shaker dances and marches
14. Shaker "letteral" music notation
15. Sister Lillian tells about her musical training
16. Shaker gift songs
17. Skipping song
18. Shaker dances
19. Song: In the days when I shall comfort thee
20. Song: I want to be clean and holy all over
21. Just enough cross by the way and 'Tis the gift to be simple
22. TV Interview with Eldress Bertha Lindsay - Cleveland,1974
23. Song: O my sweet Shaker home
24. Song: O we're a band of sisters and happy are we
25. Song: Simple Gifts - Eldress Bertha's 90th birthday party, 1987
26. Song: Who will bow and bend like the willow - Shaker Heights
27. Song: I must live must have my being - Sister Mildred Barker
28. Interview with Sister Mildred at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, 1980
29. Hymn: The Shakers - Sister Mildred and Sister Frances,1980
30. Song: We will all go home with you -
Shaker Heigts, OH, 1974
All the information is contained on a CD-ROM playable on your CD-DVD computer drive or compatible format.
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Roger Lee Hall will be presenting a paper at the 2017 Communal Studies Association Conference
in Zoar, Ohio on October 6.
This is the title of his paper about communal singing in Ohio:
"Heavenly Music": Evolution of communal singing at Kirtland,
North Union and Zoar
For more information about this conference -- CLICK HERE
This attractive coloful music broadside
is available at the
A Sampling of Shaker Music
Many of the Shaker songs and hymns are available in performing editions and arrangements by Roger Lee Hall, a composer and ethnomusicoloist who has researched and performaed Shaker music for over 40 years. His editions and arrangements are listed at these links:
Shaker music archive
Shaker music arrangements
Celestial Praises: A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals
You can order a download of the music arrangements by
Roger Lee Hall from this album at CD Baby:
Gentle Words: A Shaker Music Sampler
Includes 24 premiere recordings including a newly discovered version of the best known Shaker song, "Simple Gifts," and music sung by Shaker sisters from taped field recordings. These are rare performances by Shaker sisters and were recorded live on site.
Read more and how to order at this link:
Gentle Words CD
These two CD releases on Rounder Records, with 40 Shaker spirituals each, are the most extensive ones featuring the Shakers singing and speaking about their music...
Early Shaker Spirituals (Rounder Records)
A CD collection, originally released on LP in 1976, with 40 Shaker spirituals sung by The United Society of Shakers, Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Many of the spirituals are sung by Sister R. Mildred Barker, the foremost Shaker singer of her time. The spirituals include laboring songs, gift songs, prayer songs, a hymn and anthem and several interviews with Sister Mildred Barker. Extensive notes and texts for all the music are provided by Daniel W. Patterson.
These are a few of Shaker spirituals included on the CD set:
"The rolling deep" (Eldress Polly Lawrence)
"Come life, Shaker life" (Elder Issachar Bates)
"Down in the lowly vale" (Sister Polly Rupe)
"'Tis the gift to be simple" (Elder Joseph Brackett)
"I looked and lo a lamb" (anthem)
"With a new tongue" (Brother David A. Buckingham)
"O brighter than the morning star" (Ezra T. Leggett/Susanna Brady)
"O give me a little love" (Sister Sarah Fletcher)
You can order this CD directly from Amazon.com here:
Early Shaker Spirituals
Let Zion Move: Music of the Shakers (Rounder Records)
"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
This 2 CD set from 1999 includes 40 Shaker spirituals sung by the Shakers from Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine. It includes a history of Shaker music narrated by Sister R. Mildred Barker and Sister Lillian Phelps. There are also interviews with Sister R. Mildred Barker, Eldress Bertha Lindsay, and Sister Lillian Phelps.
The first interviews were done in 1960 by William (Bill) Randle. Later interviews were conducted in 1972 and 1980 by Roger Hall, who has edited and written the detailed notes for this unique collection.
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"
(all six titles by Eldress 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" (Elder Otis Sawyer)
"Prayer Universal" (Eldress Dorothy Durgin)
-- solo by Charles Thompson
The CD set includes an attractive 72 page illustrated booklet with examples of Shaker music and the words to all 40 Shaker spirituals plus a bibliography and discography, compiled by Roger Hall.
Read how these important recordings were made in 1960-61
and released commercially in 1999,
If still available, you can order the 2 CD set from Amazon.com at this link:
Let Zion Move: Music of the Shakers
The Sampler Chorus and Soloists
Joy of Angels:
Shaker Spirituals for Christmas and The New Year
(Sampler Records Ltd.)
This CD from Sampler Records in 1995 features 38 Shaker spirituals and is the only one devoted to music for Christmas and the New Year, many of them recorded for the first time anywhere. The featured performers are: Randy Folger, Colleen Liggett, Kathy Leigh Johnson, Mitzie Collins, The Eastman Bach Children's Chorus, and The Sampler Chorus. The CD title is taken from the opening Shaker Christmas hymn: "Hail, hail the beautiful morn" by Elmina Phillips from North Union, Ohio.
Also featured is the first recording of the popular Shaker song, "Give Good Gifts."
There is an accompanying songbook with all the music and extensive notes about the music and Shaker Christmas rituals by Roger Hall, plus a list of recordings of Aaron Copland's arrangements of "Simple Gifts."
"The editorial essays in the printed anthology are models of their kind, providing clear and wise guidance to students and performers alike. The performances on the recording are lovingly skillful and delightfully varied and will repay repeated listenings."
-- Ralph P. Locke , Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester
"Here is a rich lode of possibilities for all kinds of singing occasions - some for congregations at Christmas, like the wonderful regional carols - and others for specific events, such as a Shaker pageant or historical program...I love the melodic ideas - this is not what you hear every day. Congratulations to all involved."
-- George Ward , recording artist and folklorist, Albany, New York.
To order this CD --CLICK HERE
Read the description by Sister Elmina Phillips of
Christmas Music Among the Shakers in the Olden Time
Love is Little:
A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals
(Sampler Records Ltd.)
A collection of 36 Shaker spirituals, released by Sampler Records in 1992, representing all of the 18 major Shaker communities, performed by Roger Hall, Mitzie Collins and other soloists, and The Sampler Chorus. It is titled after the popular Shaker humility song from South Union, Kentucky.
There is also an accompanying songbook compiled by Roger Hall with all the music from the CD, plus music notes, a list of titles from the Shaker Song Series, and a bibliography. Included is the earliest known Shaker song with complete words and music, "In Yonder Valley" (1787).
"The recording includes a nice contrast of styles, tempi, vocal timbres and ranges. It resists the temptation to 'arrange' the music for modern performance, but lets the music speak for itself. I'd recommend both the book and recording as useful for singers and scholars, and would suggest that traditional music groups will find the collection a means of incorporating these songs into their own repertories. I'd also recommend the recording if for no other reason than that you'll enjoy it."
--- Susan Porter, Professor of Music, Ohio State University, Lima, Ohio in The Sonneck Society for American Music Bulletin, Summer, 1993.
"The excellent vocals of Mitzie, Roger and the Sampler Chorus carry this recording onto a high level of musical achievement. Anyone interested in the Shakers and their music must have this recording."
---"Andy Recommends" in Andy's Front Hall Order Catalog,
Voorheesville, New York.
To order this CD --CLICK HERE
"The Humble Heart"
A Forty Year Survey of Shaker Music
"Give Good Gifts"
Shaker music in the 20th century
Great American Folk Song
"May We Ever be United"
Music of the North Union, Ohio Shakers
Singing New Englanders:
From The Pilgrims to The Shakers
Several television programs,
including interviews with Sister R. Mildred Barker
and music and dance by the Shaker Village Work Camp singers
at Hancock Shaker Village in 1966, and a television story about
the Sabbathday Lake Shakers in 1986
with the singing of several Shaker songs
on this deluxe multi-media DVD.
Click on this link:
A Shaker Music Miscellany
Related AMP Links
Aaron Copland Meets The Shakers
Joseph Brackett's Simple Gifts
Shaker Music Books and Articles
Shaker Music News
Shaker Music Scholar
Shaker Music Preservation Series
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