Simple Gifts will probably always be the best-known of all Shaker hymns, thanks to American composer Aaron Copland who used it as the theme of his ballet suite Appalachian Spring. Even before Copland popularized it, however, it was widely known among the Believers, well-preserved in oral tradition, and recorded in more than fifteen manuscripts, where it is identified as a Quick Song. Although its origin is not certain, it is most often described as coming from the singing of Elder Joseph Brackett of Alfred, Maine around 1848. Eldress Caroline Helfrich remembers seeing Elder Joseph sing it in a meeting room, turning about with his coat tails a-flying.
Eunice and Joseph Wyeth were converted by Ann Lee herself, but when Joseph and the children left the Harvard community Eunice found herself torn between family and faith. At the elders urging, Eunice did rejoin Joseph, who promised she could always keep her religion. She longed to return to Shaker life, and after many years, the Wyeths moved back Harvard, where Eunice spent the last five years of her life in serene contentment, blessed with her gift of song. Her melody for Lovely Love, with the lyrics by her nice, Eunice Bathrick, reflects the joy of her reunion with the Believers.
Father Joseph Meacham, by revelation of God, transformed the early Shaker dance- in which each individual freely expressed his joy in salvation in his own way-to the ordered ceremony called laboring.Square Check Tune accompanied an intricately structured square dance learned in 1837 in a vision by Ann Maria Goff of Watervliet, New York. As a consequence of its liveliness, it was taught only to the younger class-none but the sprightly could do it. When Cheer Fills The Hearts of My Friends, also known as Kindness and Love, first appeared in manuscript in 1852. The words were written in Canterbury New Hampshire; the tune in Harvard. The verse begins When Cheer fills the hearts of my friends/And brethren and sisters are kind/What joy to my bosom it sends/What peace to my troubled mind.
O' Lord Protect Thy Chosen Flock This beautiful hymn would have been perfectly appropriate for the close of an evening meeting, as described at Gloucester, when all would kneel together and sometimes sing a prayer song, often moving the singers to tears.
My Carnal Life I Will Lay Down This song comes from South Union, Kentucky, village, and is dated 1838. Andrews notes that it apparently was chiefly popular in the western communities, it only surfaced in one eastern hymnal.
Back Manner Tune #1 This and the following tune (Back Manner #2) reflect the earliest form (around 1788) of Shaker dance, or laboring exercise, which began as an entirely irregular form, in which each individual did his or her own steps and movements, each more or less alone within the group. This promiscuous style was soon made at least partly formal, and was ultimately replaced by other forms.
And Now My Dear Companions German immigrant Augustus P. Blase was a member of the Watervliet, New York community, and one of its most prolific songwriters. He wrote this hymn in three-part harmony, probably around the time of the Civil War, a time when the Shakers still generally always sang in unison. It was not till the 1870s that part-singing and instrumental accompaniment became common at Believers' services.
My Robe Is New begins My robe is new, my crown is bright/Im happy, blessed and free/I feel as little as a mite? And lively as a bee./I sip the honey from the flower/That blooms in Zion's vale/I smell the oder from the bower/That floats upon the gale. Many Shaker melodies are called Mother Ann's Song, either because they were sung by the founder herself, or were received from her spirit, as was this one.
Father James's Song The legend is that Father James sang this wordless song in Harvard in 1783 as he knelt upon the spot where he'd just been beaten by a violent mob of townsfolk; the solemn hymn appears in more than one manuscript. Treasures of the Gospel was a song that might have been sung as they marched to a holy feast site. On reaching the enclosure, ancient spirits and prophets would often come, and which none could resist. I Will Bow and Be Simple This lovely air is a variant of the old song Willow Tree, and was received at Lebanon in about 1843. This version was transcribed by the diligent Mary Hazzard around 1850 and is the more classic form.
Mother Ann's Song (No. 2) This lovely Dorian melody is ascribed to Ann Lee and dated 1782 in a hymnal transcribed by Mary Hazzard of Mount Lebanon, making it one of the earliest Shaker songs to be recorded.
Come Dance and Sing, which accompianied a spirited round dance, was received in 1838 and attributed to the spirit of the beloved leader and prolific writer Issachar Bater, Sr. The Shakers' Quick Dance lasted from 1811 into the 1870's and evolved from an unstructured promiscuous form into a circular laboring order- this lively Quick Dance melody accompianed the later, fast-paced skipping version.
A slow and reverent version of the Lord's Prayer,The Saviour's Universal Prayer was originally written for Christmas; 1845, and was usually followed by And again Heavenly Father. It became popular with many sicieties for many years, especially at mountain meetings.
Hop Up and Jump Up comes from the society in Shirley, Massachusetts, written around 1847, and probably accompanied the motions and gestures indicated: Hop up and jump up and whirl round,/Gather love, here it is, all round, all round./Here is love flowing round, catch it as you whirl round,/Reach up and reach down, here it is all round.