Simple Gifts

One of America’s most popular folk songs is Simple Gifts.  It was sung at the inaugurations of three presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama).  It was written by a Shaker church leader, Joseph Brackett, Jr.  Brackett wrote only one verse and other verses were added by non-Shakers.  It was written for a quick dance, not as a hymn.  Males would form compressed concentric circles and explode outward.

The Pride of West Virginia, the WVU Marching Band, adopted Simple Gifts as part of its pre-game show.  It is a fan favorite and when the band moves into the concentric circle formation, fans start their applause.  When the band then explodes from the circle formation, led by the trumpets, you know you have seen something special.  Even fans from the opposing school stand and applaud.

Simple Gifts in this troublesome time is not just a song, but a call for a change in how we live our lives.  We place greater value on what is really important to us:  our health, our family, time for reflection, and memories of special moments in our life.  These are simple gifts that we often don’t even think about in normal times.

Of course, there are the simple gifts that we can no longer enjoy:  the smile of a close friend, saying goodbye to a loved one who has passed away, hands across shoulders singing Country Roads after an athletic victory, and even something as simple as a hand shake.

For Mountaineer fans, we will all miss the goose bumps that we have when the Pride begins the Simple Gifts formation.  Perhaps watching the video at can be a reminder that better times are ahead.  But let’s not forget the simple gifts of life that we have taken for granted.

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“The simple things in life are the greatest gifts.” – Unknown

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