Tonight on TV I watched a documentary about the Shakers, a group of Christians formed during the days of the United States’ infancy. They were essentially Quakers who incorporated rhythmic dancing as part of their worship (hence the “shaking”). Their interpretation of the Gospel is so very different from what most other Christians believed. The Shakers believed that their duty was to turn their entire body and soul and possessions over to God, so they lived communal lifestyles and all work and possessions were shared with one another equally.
Though their religion didn’t last (celibacy was part of the lifestyle…one could only become Shaker through conversion, not birth), they gave our modern society many interesting contributions. One thing that I find most beautiful about the Shaker way of life is their goal of simplicity. They didn’t believe in making things too complicated…not their clothing, not their architecture, not their furniture, and not their worship. Everything that was Shaker was simple.
This song, Simple Gifts, shares one facet of the Shaker way of life with us in song: simplicity.
‘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 asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
Music from the album Classic Yo-Yo, performed by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma.