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Tis a Gift

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Anne McGinty

Anne McGinty

General Info

Year: 1997
Duration: c. 6:15
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Queenwood/Kjos
Cost: Score and Parts - $75.00   |   Score Only - $7.50


Full Score
C Piccolo
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet or Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Parade Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Commissioned by the Montoursville Area Hgih School Band, Montoursville, Pennsylvania, Dennis Carpenter, Director, in memory of Michelle Bohlin, Julie Grimm, and Monica Weaver.

- Program Note from score

Based on the Shaker melody Simple Gifts, this piece is a celebration of life and the eternal spirit of humanity. Lighthearted and joyous, simple yet powerful, this piece is a tribute to the three band members from Montoursville, Pennsylvania, Area High School who tragically lost their lives aboard TWA Flight 800, with the composer's royalties donated to the band's 'Tis A Scholarship Fund for music education.

The tune was written in 1848. There are two conflicting narratives of Shaker origin as to the composer of the song. One account attributes the song to a "Negro spirit" heard at Canterbury, New Hampshire, which would make the song a "gift song"; received by a Shaker from the spirit world. Alternatively, and more widely accepted, the song's composer is said to be Joseph Brackett (1797–1882) of Alfred, Maine. A lifelong resident of the state, he first joined the Shakers at Gorham when his father's farm helped to form the nucleus of a new Shaker settlement.

The song was largely unknown outside Shaker communities until Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham's ballet, Appalachian Spring, first performed in 1944. (Shakers once worshipped on Holy Mount, in the Massachusetts portion of the Appalachians). Copland used Simple Gifts a second time in 1950 in his first set of Old American Songs for voice and piano, which was later orchestrated. Copland used Brackett's original verse for the lyrics to his one-verse song:

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 gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

- Program Note compiled by Amy Birdsong for James Madison University Concert Band concert program, 2 December 2021


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class BB
  • Florida: IV
  • Georgia: V
  • Mississippi: V-A
  • New York: Concert Band V
  • Oklahoma: IV-A
  • Virginia: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Concert Band (Amy Birdsong, conductor) - 2 December 2021
  • University Wind Ensemble of Concordia University (Seward, Neb.) (Andrew Schultz, conductor) – 25 March 2018
  • University of Oregon (Eugene) Campus Band (Eric Wiltshire, conductor) – 15 November 2017
  • Colts Neck (N.J.) Community Band (Richard Grossman, conductor) – 13 November 2014
  • Concordia University Portland (Ore.) Wind Ensemble – Spring 2011

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Anne McGinty website Accessed 12 September 2021
  • McGinty, A. (1997). 'Tis a Gift [score]. Queenwood: United States.