The Byrds — Turn! Turn! Turn! — song & exercises

«Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)» — often abbreviated to «Turn! Turn! Turn!» — is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as «To Everything There Is a Season» on The Limeliters‘ album Folk Matinee and then some months later on Seeger’s ownThe Bitter and the Sweet.

Below are a few exercises connected with this song.

  1. Listen to the song. Do you like it? What do you think is the style of the song?
  2. Before you listen again, read the lyrics (you will fill in the gaps later). Do you know what the words in bold mean? You may check yourself with the help of an online dictionary, for example, Cambridge Learner Dictionary.

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be ____, a time to die
A time to _____, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to _____, a time to weep

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build _____, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of _____
A time of war, a time of _____
A time you _____ embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to _____
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

  1. Now listen to the song again and fill in the gaps (you can find the complete lyrics here).
  2. Match the words on the right with prepositions and adverbs they are used with on the left.
    • Purpose
    • Cast
    • Gather
    • Refrain
    • Gain
    • Sew
    • Of
    • About
    • On
    • For
    • Away
    • Together
    • From
    • To
    • By
    • Now fill in the gaps in these sentences:The Economist must refrain ________ doing this dirty work like British colonialists. Please refrain ____________ smoking in this area.
      When the Apple iPad was released, many believed there was no purpose ______________ the gadget. Why did people need a huge device that was identical to their mobile phone? It didn’t even make phone calls!
      The American economy saw a gain _____________ 14 cents last week and 20 cents a week before that, a positive for Mr Obama.
      I try to cast ________ such thoughts, but still from time to time I get an impression that we shouldn’t do this job.
      She will use scraps of material and sew them ________ into different things.
      They will gather ________ in the open air, singing, dancing, and telling stories.Select the following black part to see the answers: from / from / for / of / away / together / together
    • Write your own sentences with these word combinations.
  3. Answer the questions:
    What is the main idea behind the song? Do you agree with it?
    Do you know any other songs that carry the same message? Do you like any of them?
    Can the message of this song be applied to the current situation in the world?
  4. Now imagine you are taking part in the president elections in your country. Write 3-5 election campaign promises using «(It’s) time to …» stucture, e.g. now is a time to crack down on crime.

If you want to improve your English, you can also have both online and offline lessons in Accent Language Center.

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