In 1848, Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. (1797-1882) a member of a sect known as the Shakers, located in Alfred, Maine, wrote the words and the tune to “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, t’will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained, 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.” 1
This was originally one of the dance songs of the Shaker sect, whose full name was the “United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.” Their founder was a prophetic figure known as Mother Ann Lee.
The group began in Europe (first France and then England) and eventually moved to the New York in the 1700’s. The Shakers were basically Christian in their beliefs, following the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus. They lived together in communities with a strict rule about celibacy, and they held all property in common. The movement swelled to 19 communities across northeastern parts of the United States in the 1800’s; and at its heyday they had more than 6,000 community members.