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'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you 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 gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come out right.

'Tis the gift to have sympathy between me and you,
'Tis the gift to keep at what you ought to do;
And if you have your eyes on the skies above,
'Twill be in the valley of joy and love.

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Source: Singing Together, Spring 1974, BBC Publications

No source is quoted in the pamphlet.

Daniel W. Patterson's The Shaker Spiritual gives more information, as you would expect:

This song gave a title to Edward D Andrew's pioneering study of Shaker songs and a theme to Aaron Copland's ballet suite "Appalachian Spring." These men made it the most widely known of the Shaker Spirituals. It has also had popularity among the Shakers. More than fifteen manuscripts preserve the tune, and it survives in oral tradition.

The manuscripts identify the song as a Quick Dance, but give conflicting word of its origin. One written at Lebanon says that it was received from a Negro spirit at Canterbury. Andrews reports seeing it described as "composed by the Alfred Ministry June 28, 1848." I have been unable to find his authority but several manuscripts do record the song from the singing of Elder Joseph Brackett and a company from Alfred, who visited a number of societies in the summer of 1848. In her youth at Hancock, Mrs Olive H Austin heard that it was Elder Joseph's own song. Eldress Caroline Helfrich there remembered seeing him sing it in a meeting room, turning about "with his coat tails a-flying."

Patterson's version does not include the second verse.

The tune was of course adapted by Sydney Carter for "Lord of the Dance" in 1963 which has in its turn been used for a pagan version.


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