I Bless the Day


A simple SATB/piano setting of a lovely, lesser-known Shaker song about a deeply cherished spiritual “turning point,” with violin obbligato.

A licensed copy is required for each member performing.



I bless the day that I did see
the glorious light of liberty;
The day that I my sin confessed,
And in my soul found peace and rest.

In 1994 I spent a year in Brethren Volunteer Service.  My first project placement was in western Massachusetts at Gould Farm, a residential community with a mission to care for people with mental illness in a wholesome, family-like setting.  One of the friends I made at Gould Farm had a mother who was a Shaker historian, and through her, I became aware of the great body of Shaker song. There are thousands more where Simple Gifts came from! We formed a small choir that presented concerts of Shaker music, and I learned many gems, including I Bless the Day.

The scriptural allusion in this song is “the woman caught in adultery” to whom Jesus responds with compassion; he asks the assembled accusers to examine their own hearts, and to cast the first stone if they should find themselves free of any sin.  No one comes forward, and the condemning crowd disperses.

But for the Shaker community, there was a much closer precedent; the founder of the Shakers, known as Mother Ann, had a special musical gift.  Her singing was of great spiritual power, and newly-arrived converts recount stories of transformation upon first meeting her, and being prayed and sung over by her.  Thus the “savior” figure for this song — as it was originally conceived — is Mother Ann herself.  For the Shakers, “sinning no more” would have also included the taking up of a celibate life.  But one can find value in the sentiment of the song without taking things quite that far!

I have notated the song in such a way that it can be sung with traditional Christian imagery to refer to Jesus, or with traditional Shaker imagery to refer to Mother Ann.  Either way, surely many can identify with the general sense of the song: the relief at having shared a long-held shame with a compassionate friend, and the new-found freedom that follows the laying down of a heavy burden.

I bless the day that I did see
the glorious light of liberty;
The day that I my sin confessed,
And in my soul found peace and rest.

O then I found a Savior dear,
A tender mother [brother], kind and dear,
Who cleansed and healed, though bruised and sore,
Said “Go thy way, and sin no more.
Sin no more, no, go thy way and sin no more.”

Additional information


SATB piano, violin, Violin

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