2000—Sabbathday Lake
P8332w For decades, we went to every Boston Camerata concert we could find out about: Joel Cohen was and remains one of the brightest stars in our musical constellation.

Around this time, he made friends with the world’s only surviving community of Shakers, in Sabbathday Lake, Maine, and was given the privilege of opening, for the first time in the waning 20th century, a cherry-wood cabinet containing some 10,000 written-down Shaker songs.1 Concerts followed, featuring the Shakers as performers. We were charmed and delighted and purchased this CD2 that reproduces one of the joint concerts.

Come the Fourth of July, we played hooky from our customary church meetings and
drove up to Maine, where we attended the only Shaker worship meeting3 of the day. Anywhere, as far as we know. They kindly permitted me to choose one of the hymns—and even to pitch it. I selected “In Yonder Valley,” that Camerata had already taught me to love.
1You may know that Shaker songs were typically written down after a member of the congregation would rise, moved by the Spirit, and say something like, “An angel gave me this for you.” Then he would teach them the song and, often, an associated dance. Then they’d write down the song, sometimes naming the angel.
2We trust Joel and his business people will see my borrowing of the covers of this CD package as a loving attempt to advertise them and not as copyright infringement.
3We emerged saying to each other that we wished we could be part of their wonderful worship and still keep our Temple credentials and our fellowship in the One True Ward at home.
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