Click to enlargeSimple Gifts (brass quintet)

Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr., a Shaker from Gorham, Maine, probably wrote this in 1848 as a dance song, rather than a work song or hymn, given that the lyric seems to have some dance instruction built in near the end.

When Aaron Copeland used this tune as the basis for one of the movements of his ballet Appalachian Spring in 1944, it became famous the world over. In 1963, an alternate lyric, Lord of the Dance, was written and quickly became popular as well. So, an alternate title for this piece would be LORD OF THE DANCE.

Here the tune is presented as a short concert piece for brass quintet. The parts seem easy, as all but the french horn part get progressively more difficult as the piece goes along. Still, the parts are not so difficult that a high school brass quintet should have any problem with this piece.

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'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 bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

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MP3 sound sample: entire piece (synthesizer/midi).



SIMPLE GIFTS, a hymn tune by Joseph Brackett, Jr., arranged by Tom Kirkland for brass quintet consisting of two trumpets, F horn, trombone, and tuba, comes in a pdf file of 350K, with a seven-page score, five two-page parts, and a license page, eighteen pages in all. Performance time is approximately 2:30.


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Last update: 27 September 2017