The Shakers in America were known for the graceful lines of their beautifully crafted furniture, which reflected the simple lifestyle of these communities. One of their hymns speaks about recognizing the gifts of grace: " 'Tis the gift to be simple, / 'Tis the gift to be free, / 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be." An instrumental elaboration on this tune occurs in American composer Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. It starts with the lilting, easily recognized phrase — grace arrives in the familiar. Then come the variations — first the strings, next the winds, then the full ensemble. All together now: simple gifts and many graces abounding.
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