Shaker Music Scholar
Roger Lee Hall
For over forty years Mr. Hall has researched, performed, and arranged many Shaker spirituals.
He has also discovered and edited many original Shaker songs and hymns for publications and recordings.
See the information below for more details about his extensive work in Shaker music.
Article - "Simple Gifts":
The Discovery and Popularity of a Shaker Dance Song
New publication for 2017
An article from The Lewiston Journal, 18 July 1987...
Music Programs and Papers
On Saturday, April 23, 2016, Roger Lee Hall gave a PowerPoint presentation at
the Enfield Shaker Museum Spring Shaker Forum in Enfield, New Hampshire.
The title of his presentation was "My Shaker Home"
An arrangement of this last Shaker song
composed at Canterbury, New Hampshire
is on this CD:
Celestial Praises - A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals
On Sunday, November 15, 2015, Roger Lee Hall presented a music program for The Bedford Lyceum
the First Parish Unitarian-Universalism Church in Bedford, Massachusetts.
The program was titled: "Give Good Gifts - The Simple Gifts of Shakers Music."
A quartet from the church performed several of the Shaker spirituals that Mr. Hall discussed.
Read about the multi-media informational DVD:
"Symbols and Symmetry: Shaker Music, Art and Architecture"
An audio-visual program presented by Roger Lee Hall
Monday, September 14, 2015
Enfield Shaker Museum
Spring Shaker Forum
April 26-28, 2013
"Break forth into singing”:
Evolution of an Enfield Shaker Anthem
A paper discussing the evolution of the popular Shaker anthem,
"Millennial Praise (Break forth into singing)"
Elder James G. Russell.
This anthem is available on the CD:
Gentle Words - A Shaker Music Sampler
If you wish to write and discuss a possible music program with Mr. Hall -- click here
Shaker Music Publications
The Shaker music pages on this American Music Preservation website were compiled and written by Roger Lee Hall, a composer, ethnomusicologist and singer, and one of the leading authorities on Shaker music, having researched it for over 40 years.
Here are the 20 Shaker music collections he has written and edited:
A WESTERN SHAKER MUSIC SAMPLER - Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio, 1976
"Shaker Song Series" in The Shaker Messenger magazine, 1981-1996 (56 Shaker songs and hymns)
"The Happy Journey" - 35 Shaker spirituals compiled by Miss Clara Endicott Sears - Fruitlands Museums, Harvard, Massachusetts, 1982
The Story of 'Simple Gifts': Shaker simplicity in song - The World of Shaker, 1987; 1990; 1992
"LOVE IS LITTLE" - A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals - Sampler Records Ltd., 1992/ 2nd ed, 1996
"JOY OF ANGELS" - Shaker Spirituals for Christmas and The New Year - Sampler Records Ltd., 1995
A GUIDE TO SHAKER MUSIC - With Music Supplement - PineTree Music (6 editions, 1996-2006)
Joseph Brackett's 'SIMPLE GIFTS': Evolution of a Shaker Dance Song - PineTree Press, 1997/ 2nd ed, 2001
"LET ZION MOVE": Music of the Shakers - Rounder Records 2 CD set with 72 page booklet, 1999
"COME, LIFE, SHAKER LIFE" - The Life and Music of Elder Issachar Bates - PineTree Press, 2004
Joseph Brackett's Shaker Dance Song - PineTree Press, 2006; 2009; 2010
"HOW HAPPY ARE THEY" - Twelve Shaker Spirituals From Kentucky and Ohio - PineTree Press, 2007
For the Love of Zion - 30 Shaker Spirituals arranged by Jack Bomer - PineTree Music, 2007
"GENTLE WORDS" - PineTree Press, 2009
"MAY WE EVER BE UNITED" - Music of the North Union, Ohio Shakers,
PineTree Press, 2012
A SHAKER MUSIC MISCELLANY - 10 books - Multi-media DVD - PineTree Productions, 2012, revised, 2014
"SIMPLE GIFTS" - Great American Folk Song - Multi-media DVD - PineTree Productions, 2014
"GIVE GOOD GIFTS" - Shaker Music in the 20th Century - Multi-media DVD - PineTree Productions, 2015
"THE HUMBLE HEART" - A Forty Year Survey of Shaker Music - Multi-media DVD - PineTree Productions, 2016
"Blended Together" - Interviews with The Shakers - Multi-media CD - PineTree Press, 2017
Roger and his wife, Gail [seated in the front row at right and left sides in the above picture] are Founding Members of the Friends of the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Several of the songs he edited, "Welcome, Welcome" and "We Will All Go Home With You" have been sung at the annual meetings of the Friends of the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake and at Shaker Seminars held each year in different locations.
Roger has edited or arranged hundreds of Shaker tunes, written over 700 pages on the subject in various music books and collections, and has presented many music lectures and workshops on Shaker music.
Also, he has performed Shaker music in concerts and on the best-selling CD: Love is Little: A Sampling of Shaker Spirituals.
Over the past four decades, Roger Lee Hall has studied the entire Shaker music repertory from the West (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana) and the East (New York State, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine), from the 18th century to the 20th century.
One of his most extensive research projects has been concerning the best known Shaker song, "Simple Gifts." He has written several articles and publications about the song and has completed a book with audio and video bonus features on a multi-media DVD and it is titled,
"Simple Gifts" - Great American Folk Song. For more information on the multi-media DVD -- CLICK HERE
Roger Lee Hall's first research project was a Master's Thesis at Binghamton University in 1972 titled, The Shaker Letteral System: A Practical Approach to Music Notation. It included several Shaker songs and hymns which he transcribed from the singing of the Shakers at Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
On 17 January 1973, he presented his first Shaker music program which was announced in a newspaper column by Bill Randle, the Cleveland disc jockey who had introduced Elvis Presley on national television in 1956. Mr. Hall worked for Randle as his assistant while at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Hall's first program was titled: "Songs and Dances of the Shakers."
On 9 November 1974, Roger had the honor of introducing the distinguished composer,, Aaron Copland, who had arranged "Simple Gifts" in his award-winning ballet score to Appalachian Spring, to the Sabbathday Lake Shakers for the first and only time in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Read more about it -- CLICK HERE
Two years later, Mr. Hall's first edition of Shaker music with 12 Shaker songs, hymns and anthems from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and titled, A Western Shaker Music Sampler, was published by the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland.
In 1976 at Washington, D.C., Mr. Hall presented a scholarly paper about the first prominent Shaker tunesmith, Issachar Bates, at the American Musicological Society National Meeting in Washington, D.C.
In 1980, Roger wrote the first article about the best known Shaker song, "Simple Gifts," published in The Shaker Messenger magazine. He also interviewed the American composer, Aaron Copland, about his arrangements of "Simple Gifts." In addition, Hall interviewed Sister Mildred Barker of the Sabbathday Lake Shakers about their music. These interviews are available in the book, "Simple Gifts": Great American Folk Song.
Two years later, he edited a second music collection, The Happy Journey: Thirty-Five Shaker Spirituals Collected by Miss Clara Endicott Sears, from her book, Gleaning from Old Shaker Journals. She knew the last of the Harvard Shakers and also began the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts. This music collection was "Publication No. 1" in the Fruitlands Museum series and published in 1982.
In 1987, the World of Shaker published Hall's short pamphlet on the popular Shaker song, "Simple Gifts," including a copy of the original music manuscript, an edition of the song, and the interview with Aaron Copland.
Also in 1987, Roger presented his first of several Shaker music workshops at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine and he received a thank you note from Sister R. Mildred Barker, who attended part of that workshop. A local newspaper story was written about his Shaker music workshop and headlined: "Shaker music speaks to the heart." He gave Shaker music workshops again at Sabbathday Lake in 1988 and 1989.
Roger Hall's music editions have been used on numerous CDs, including Love is Little (1992) and Joy of Angels (1995) from Sampler Records.
He also met with musician Joel Cohen and encouraged him to record Shaker music. That resulted in the best-selling CD by the Boston Camerata and Sabbathday Lake Shakers titled, Simple Gifts, and also a second CD, The Golden Harvest.
Between 1981 and 1996, Hall compiled and edited 56 Shaker tunes for The Shaker Messenger, a magazine devoted to Shaker culture. The titles of the Shaker songs and hymns he edited are listed here.
In 1999, Rounder Records released a 2 CD set titled, Let Zion Move: Music of the Shakers, compiled and edited by Roger Hall, with a 72 page booklet containing biographical information about Shaker musicians and the words to all the music plus interviews with Shaker sisters, recorded in 1960, 1972 and 1980.
Some of Roger's vast research was included in the reference book, A GUIDE TO SHAKER MUSIC (6 editions, 1996-2006), the most extensive resource guide about Shaker music collections and recordings.
(book originally published in 2009)
collection, "Give Good Gifts"
A best-selling CD featured arrangements by Kevin Siegfried performed by the Tudor Choir on the CD, Gentle Words - Shaker Songs (Loft Records, 2001). Some of these arrangements were based on Roger Hall's editions. These are his editions selected by Kevin Siegfried:
"In yonder valley"
"All is summer"
"Love is little"
"Followers of the Lamb"
"Angels of heaven"
"Prayer for the captive"
In 2004, he was a presenter at the popular John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. He led the singing of Shaker songs in Morning song and also gave a lecture titled, "The Humble Heart: The Craftsmanship of Shaker Music." The lecture included 15 Shaker spirituals that were sung and played from recordings.
Also during these years, Roger Hall wrote these two collections about Shaker music in the West:
"Come Life, Shaker Life": The Life and Music of Elder Issachar Bates (2004)
"How Happy Are They": Twelve Shaker Spirituals from Kentucky and Ohio (2007)
For the 40th anniversary of his Shaker music research, Roger wrote a booklet about his music discoveries, including interviews with several Shaker sisters from Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine. This booklet and an audio album with Shaker interviews are now available on a CD-ROM disc titled, Blended Together: Discoveries Along The Shaker Music Trail (2011).
Singing New Englanders:
From The Pilgrims to The Shakers
(PineTree Productions, 2012)
Also for his 40th anniversary, Hall compiled 10 of his books and music collections with over 200 music examples and 500 files of sheet music and historical information for a Deluxe Edition DVD titled,
A Shaker Music Miscellany (PineTree Productions, 2011/ 2nd ed, 2014).
This book is titled, "Simple Gifts": Great American Folk Song (PineTree Productions, 2014), and available as a PDF document on an informational DVD or as an E-book. The DVD includes music examples and several video clips, plus audio interviews in 1980 with Sister R. Mildred Barker of the Sabbathday Lake Shakers in Maine, and with the distinguished composer, Aaron Copland, about his arrangements of the "Simple Gifts" song.
This multi-media DVD (PineTree Productions, 2015) contains an extensive amount of information
book, music albums and videos.
Read more about "Give Good Gifts" - Shaker Music in the 20th Century -- click here
In addition to his many publications, Roger Lee Hall is also an ASCAP composer and his compositions and arrangements are on several popular CDs: "Gentle Words" and "Celestial Praises."
He is currently Director of the American Music Recordings Archive (or AMRA).
For his many distinguished achievements and leadership in music,
he has been listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.
Shaker Concerts and Presentations
Two concerts for release of
Celestial Praises - A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals
Canterbury United Community Church
Canterbury, New Hampshire
November 3, 2013
Concord Community Music School
November 16, 2013
Lecture: "Celestial Praises"
Music of the New Hampshire Shakers
Date: June 7, 2012
Time: 12:10 p.m.
Bach's Lunch Series,
Concord Community Music School
23 Wall Street, Concord, New Hampshire
Speaker: Roger Lee Hall
The Shakers are America’s oldest religious communal society and they were also the most musically prolific of any American communal sect, with over 10,000 tunes composed between the 18th and 20th centuries.
The lecture included a selection of Shaker spirituals from the two communities in New Hampshire -- at Enfield and at Canterbury. Several songs will be heard as sung by Shaker sisters and also several arrangements by Roger Lee Hall.
Below are pictures of Roger Lee Hall at the lecture and display of his many music publications:
"The Humble Heart"
Music of the Harvard Shakers
Date: April 12, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Harvard Historical Society, 215 Still River Road,
Presented and performed by Roger Lee Hall
This program takes you on a musical journey through several centuries with the Shakers in Harvard, from the songs of their first spiritual leaders in the 1780s, to arrangements of Shaker tunes.
Harvard has a unique place in Shaker history because it was where Mother Ann Lee (1736-1784) spent time on her missionary journey through New England in the 1780s. A good deal of music was composed or collected at Harvard from the 1780s onward.
The program is titled after the hymn which Roger considers the best to come from the Harvard Shakers and demonstrates the sharing of creative ideas among the sexes -- a Shaker sister (Eunice Wyeth, 1756-1830) wrote the words to the hymn and a Shaker brother (Thomas Hammond Jr., 1791-1880) wrote the Shaker tune. Since the Shakers believed strongly in being humble, this hymn is titled appropriately, “The Humble Heart.”
Another hymn was first published in 1991 in an edition by Roger for the 200th anniversary of the Harvard Shaker Community. This hymn is titled, "Good Believer's Life."
A sing-along with the audience of a few Shaker songs is at the end of this musical journey through Harvard’s Shaker history.
In the above picture, Roger Lee Hall presents his gift of Harvard maps, a sheet of color slides of Harvard Shaker sites, a pamphlet (Blended Together), and Gentle Words (music book and CD) to Denis Wagner, President of the Harvard Historical Society.
Shaker Music on CDs and DVDs
compiled and produced by Roger Lee Hall
This CD includes several original compositions and arrangements by Roger Lee Hall
has received rave comments from listeners
"Celestial Praises" - A Celebration of Shaker Spirituals
This CD includes several arrangements by Roger Lee Hall
"Gentle Words" - A Shaker Music Sampler
"Simple Gifts": Great American Folk Song
The largest collection of Shaker music recordings and sheet music
A Shaker Music Miscellany
Shaker Music Editions and Arrangements
Mr. Hall has prepared editions of Shaker music for these publications: