Like “Oh Shenandoah,” “Simple Gifts” is a traditional American song that I first learned during my choir years. It’s another folk song that has stuck with me because I still find it beautiful.
“Simple Gifts” is a Shaker dance spiritual that was written in the 1800s. I love its catchy melody and message of freedom, flexibility and minimalism: It encourages you to unburden yourself and be joyful.
Here are the lyrics to the song:
‘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.
When true simplicity is gain’d
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
My version is an acoustic guitar instrumental that mimics a choral “round.”