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Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)", often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!", is a song adapted entirely from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible (with the exception of the last line) and put to music by Pete Seeger in 1959.
urn! Turn! Turn! is the second album by the folk rock band The Byrds and was released in December 1965 on Columbia Records (see 1965 in music). Like its predecessor, Mr. Tambourine Man, the album epitomized the folk rock genre and continued the band's successful mix of vocal harmony and jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar. The album's lead single and title track, "Turn! Turn! Turn!", was a Pete Seeger adaptation of text from the Book of Ecclesiastes that had previously been arranged in a chamber-folk style by the band's lead guitarist Jim McGuinn, while working with folksinger Judy Collins. The arrangement that McGuinn used for The Byrds' version utilized the same strident folk rock style as the band's previous hit singles.[
Seeger waited until 1962 to record it, releasing the song on his The Bitter and The Sweet album on Columbia Records. 45% of the royalties for the song are donated to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, due, in Seeger's own words, to the fact that "[in addition to the music] I did write six words.
The lyrics are taken almost verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes, as found in the King James Version (1611) of the Bible(Ecclesiastes 3:1), though the sequence of the words was rearranged for the song. Ecclesiastes is traditionally ascribed to King Solomon and for a time, the book was prohibited by the rabbis, who deemed it too cynical and depressing.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
The Biblical text posits there being a time and place for all things: laughter and sorrow, healing and killing, war and peace, and so on. The lines are open to myriad interpretations, but as a song they are commonly performed as a plea for world peace, with an emphasis on the closing line: "a time for peace, I swear it's not too late." This line and the title phrase "Turn! Turn! Turn!" are the only parts of the lyric written by Seeger himself.
The song is notable for being one of a few instances in popular music in which a large portion of scripture is set to music, other examples being The Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon", Sister Janet Mead's "The Lord's Prayer", and U2's "40".
The song was published in illustrated book form by Simon & Schuster in September 2003, with an accompanying CD which contained both Seeger & The Byrds recordings of the song (ISBN 0689852355 & ISBN 978-0689852350). Wendy Anderson Halperin created a set of detailed illustrations for each set of opposites which are reminiscent of mandalas. The book also includes the Ecclesiastes text from the King James version of the Bible.