Monday, December 18, 2006

The Simple Song

Good Monday morning, y'all! I'm enjoying a bit of early morning quiet as Max patrols the backyard and the son is still asleep. Hubby is off to the office. All is well. So far so good.

Yesterday I read an article in the newspaper that told of a parent singing an old Shaker song with her child. This brought many memories flooding back for me of the days when our son was small.

I read to our son every night at bedtime and it was our routine. I started this before he was even born, believing he could hear my voice and this pattern would be familiar to him when he was born. I'm not a scientist but I read obsessively. Somewhere along the line when I was pregnant, I read something confirming this belief of mine.

The husband was not home every night due to work in the real world for him. He has always been gone for varying lengths of time for work purposes and this is a normal way of life, even for our son. When the husband was home, he wanted to do something special with son as part of the bedtime routine that would just be theirs. The male bonding thing. So, he and the boy would recite the Lord's Prayer together then they would sing The Simple Song.

Son learned the Lord's Prayer at a very early age, thanks to his dad. The song I referenced is not really named the Simple Song, but it is a part of the verse - "Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free". It is so lovely and good advice, too. It is a Shaker song. I don't know the song's real name.

I love hearing their voices wafting down the hall.

Several years ago the husband was doing an extended assignment in the State of Maine. He was on site at a shipyard in Portland as a rig was being built and he was in charge of making sure it was commissioned. Son and I joined him for about a month that summer.

One of the most memorable sites we saw in Maine was a Shaker village. We visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, on Route 26, in New Gloucester. This village is the only functioning Shaker community in the world.

With a father and mother who love history, the son was pre-destined for this visit. Fortunately he is not as bored by this sort of field trip as some young people are. I see him as a budding history buff.

This village is so interesting. There are 18 structures in the village and 6 are open to the public. It is a look into the life of a Shaker village. The museum was started in 1931 by two of the women members of the community. As I said, it is still functioning so tours and such are worked around daily life there.

The community is known for its herb gardening skills. We bought packages of salad herbs, herbal teas and potpourri from a recipe developed in 1858. The gift shop provides income for the community and they also have a mail order catalog for their goods. We purchased a couple of books about the Shaker history and a frameable poster of an arrangement of Shaker chairs. The beauty is in the simple starkness of the chair construction.

Tis a gift to be simple.


Anonymous said...

I think that Shaker community sounds wonderful!

srp said...

The title is "Simple Gifts". My brother included that song as part of his Junior voice recital in college. It was beautiful. Being the comic he is, he also included the children's song.... "I Bought Me A Cat"... It has lines that add up akin to "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Each verse starts with I bought me a ______, my _____ pleased me. I fed my _________ under yonder tree, my ___________ said (insert sound effects)

So first was the cat who said fiddle eye fee.
Then the other animals and their sounds... the last line becoming longer and longer as the animals counted down to the cat.

In the last verse... I bought me a wife, my wife pleased me, I fed my wife under yonder tree. My wife he got into the wife character with his long and high pitched Hoooonnnnnnnnnnnney! Hooooooooooonnnnnnnnneeeyy! and a pause then launched into the other countdown. But that "Honey! Honey!" brought down the house and left his professor shaking his head and holding his sides. Only my brother would add this to his classical opera pieces and hymn presentations.

Anonymous said...

What a nice story and family memory. I am liking your son and your husband, very much.

I had friends once who had a sign on the barn door, "Hands to Work, Hearts to God". That always reminded me of Simple Gifts.

Beverly said...

Your post brings back similar memories or reading to my children while in the womb. Every night when I would rock my daughter to sleep, I would recite verses of Scripture. When she was very small, I'd be rocking, start a verse and then stop, and she would pick right up where I left off.

A fellow blogger a couple of months ago posted about a Shaker village in Kentucky. She has some wonderful photos and descriptions of her visit.