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Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens

Album: Teaser And The FirecatReleased: 1971Charted:
6
9
  • Stevens got the lyrics from a hymn book he found at a bookstore while looking for song ideas. It was a children's hymn by Eleanor Farjeon, who also wrote a lot of children's poetry. Stevens explained on The Chris Isaak Hour: "I accidentally fell upon the song when I was going through a slightly dry period and I needed another song or two for Teaser And The Firecat. I came across this hymn book, found this one song, and thought, This is good. I put the chords to it and then it started becoming associated with me."
  • Children in England would have heard Farjeon's hymn in primary school. Scottish children sang the old Gaelic hymn, "Child in a manger, Infant of Mary" to this tune. This hymn predated "Morning" and was written in Gaelic by Mary MacDonald before being translated into English. For Scottish children it was a Christmas hymn. (thanks, marjorie - san jose, CA)
  • Rick Wakeman, who later became a member of Yes, played keyboards. He claims he was never paid for his work.
  • This was Stevens' first single that did better in America than in England. "Peace Train" and "Wild World" were not released in the US.
  • This song is set to a Scottish tune entitled "Bunessan," a melody that was named for a small island town in Scotland. (thanks, Annabelle - Eugene, OR)
  • Neil Diamond recorded this in 1992 for his Christmas album (yes, Diamond is Jewish). His version went to #36 in the UK.
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Comments: 26

Taken from Original Rolling Stone 'Teaser and The Firecat' LP Review [December 9, 1971]: "The only lyric on the album that makes a really sophisticated, coherent statement about the world is "Morning Has Broken." As Cat announces at his concerts, "Morning Has Broken" was a "hit hymn" of the Victorian Age. It is a gorgeous hymn, offering God respect and gratitude in suitably sentimental formal language. It has a grandeur of diction which no contemporary song can match. The hymn is absolutely right for Cat; it expresses his optimism, his reverence, his sentimentality more fluently than he himself can. He sings it about as well as it can be sung and gives it a dignified piano/guitar/muted chorus arrangement that is perfect."Deethewriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
Sung nicely much later by Christian singer Michael Card, but not as well as Cat did. Pity he turned his back on its meaning.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
The melody for the song was a traditional Scottish tune and can be found in "The Songs and Hymns of the Scottish Highlands" by Lachlan MacBean - published in 1888. You can view the actual music from this publication online at http://www.archive.org/stream/songshymnsofscot01macb#page/24/mode/1up
The music goes with the hymn "Leanabh An Aigh" by Mary McDonald, who died in 1872. So obviously the tune itself goes back a lot further than 1872.
Incidentally the hymn, which was in Gaelic, was translated by Lachlan MacBean as "Child in the Manger" and he named the tune "Bunessan" after Mary McDonald's home village on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
Derek - Auckland, New Zealand
I heard a hymn at my church with this tune, but different words. So whilst everyone else was following along with the words in the book, I was blasphemously singing the words to this song. xDSarah - Eastern Passage, Ns
Dan in Fort Collins, CO, as I am a musician, I believe you're wrong about the "Whole Note" thing. As the song is in either 3/4 or 6/8 time, what you and the churchgoers sang is not whole notes, but is actually dotted half notes. Whole notes would be, for example, if the song was in 4/4 or 12/8 time, covering the whole measure for one syllable. For example: Since we're talking 3/4 time, here's what it would sound like in your case. Mor-ning has (Three Quarter Notes) Bro-Ken (Two Dotted Half Notes), Like The First (Three quarter notes) Mor-Ning (Two Dotted Half Notes), Etc.Annabelle - Eugene, Or
This song is in our church hymnal. I absolutely love it!!!Farrah - Elon, Nc
This song to me PROVES that Rick Wakeman cannot play simple, expressive keyboards. All the song really needed was simple piano style, like Paul McCartney, Elton John, Roger Hodgson, Billy Joel, etc. Instead, the piano is played very stiffly and baroquely, with trills and 32nd notes and the whole 9 yards. Rick Wakeman is a very competent player, but oddly enough he can't play simple ballads or rock and roll. Listen to "Release, Release" off the Tormato (Yes) album. It's just a 3-chord bar tune, and he still is playing his arpeggios and trills.Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
Wild World was released in the US and was my favorite song at the age of 13. This was the first song I heard by Cat Stevens on the radio and I was hooked from that moment on. I even play his music for my 3 year old grandaughter.Floria - Us, Sc
WE PLAYED THIS SONG AT MY MURDERED BROTHER'S FUNERAL SERVICE.EVERYONE WAS IN TEARSTheo - Johannesburg, South Africa
This song is often sung as a hymn in our church.
Mary, Arizona
Mary - Yuma, Az
Adam - Oops... I've found out since my last post that I got it wrong, Charles Stanford translated the prayer St. Patrick's Breastplate from Gaelic into English and transformed it into the two hymns sung to the same tune as "Morning Has Broken", but since then I've discovered that the tune he set the words to was not actually composed by him... I think you may right about the origin of the tune. My mistake! :-)Dave - Cardiff, Wales
The songs "Peace Train" and "Wild World" were, in fact, released in the US and were #7 and #11 hits. I think the intent was to say that they were not released as singles in the UK.

The song "Joy" was a US hit in 1972.

Wikipedia lists Mary MacDonald as having set the words of "Child in a Manger" to an existing tune later called "Bunessan." It says that she died in 1872, thirty years before Stanford is said (above) to have composed his tune. "Child in a Manger"/"Bunessan" definitely sound like "Morning."
Adam - Philadelphia, Pa
Quite simply, a beautiful song sung brilliantly!Derek - Cambridge, New Zealand
Anne in New Jersey, the song "Morning Has Broken" is set to a Scottish tune entitled "Bunessan", a melody that was named for a small island town in Scotland. I don't exactly know the name of the writer of this melody, but I'm 100% positive that it is a Scottish tune.Annabelle - Eugene, Or
Ann -- "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" is by J.S. Bach, not Brahms. It is decidedly not the melody of "Morning Has Broken". "Jesu" is often used at weddings as the bridal party enters, as is Pachabel's "Canon". In the 80's, a studio group called "Apollo 100" did a rock version of "Jesu", calling it simply "Joy".Jerry - Brooklyn, Ny
This song is great for smoking in the morning, i can just picture it now....the morning is breaking and i got a J in my hand. You da man Cat.Randy - Lexington, Ky
Beautiful song
for me the morning and sunrise is the most beautiful part of the day, just the thought of waking up to the sounds of the birds and the sun shininhg through th trees makes me remeber the world isnt all that bad
Michael - Tasmania, Australia
Annabelle,do you think Red Cross should use this song for the Hurricane Katrina victims?.I do.Whenever I hear this song I want to cry myself!.It's a tossup between this and John Lennon's "Imagine".Creative poetry.:)Lynn - Honolulu, Hi
The lyrics of "Morning Has Broken" were indeed written by Eleanor Farjeon, but a little known fact is that the tune to which the words for "Morning Has Broken" are sung is actually a tune by Charles Stanford that he wrote in 1902 as a means of adapting the traditional Irish prayer St. Patrick's Breastplate by Cecil Francis Alexander (who also wrote "all Things Bright and Beautiful" and "Once In Royal David's City") into plainsong, from which the older, lesser known hymns "Christ Be Beside Me" and "This Day God Gives Me" - which are sung to the same tune as "Morning Has Broken" - come. Hence the songwriting credits should actually read "Farjeon/Stanford" rather than "Trad arr Stevens"Dave - Cardiff, Wales
This song was in our hymnal, a standard hymnal among Unitarian churches. My mother loved the song dearly and probably never heard of Cat Stevens. If Rick Wakeman played the keyboards on Stevens' recording, it placed him in his natural element, a stable mid-position between the classical and the rock-and-roll ear. My mother would sing the "whole" quarter notes, but clearly with the same mood emphasis as Stevens' laughing, celebratory eighth or 16th note version. Stevens does it to revel in the glory of revelation coming to earth from above, and there is nothing that need be unholy about this...Don - Wilmington, De
When I die, this song will be the main one for my wake (if I decide to have one.) It says it all.Hallie - San Diego, Ca
The "shaggy-dog" version:

"Morning has broken, call the repairman!"
Keith - Slc, Ut
When Cat Stevens sings this song, it sounds so sweet. To me, the song sounds like the perfect little lullaby, because he sings it so slowly and softly. This song can calm your little son or daughter and comfort him or her when he or she is crying. The reason why I say this is because I know the truth, he's a guy that can sing from the heart! Way to Go, dearest Cat Stevens!Annabelle - Eugene, Or
The lyrics come from a children's hymn written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1930 which was based on Psalm 118.Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England
Funny story: When I was a child, we used to sing this song in church in Detroit. However, the Stevens version differed slightly from what we sang: Stevens's version included a fancy little thing with the last word of the first line of each verse, using 16th notes (i.e., " . . .like the first mo-o-o-orning.") In church, we sang the word "morning" on whole notes only (" . . .like the first mor-ning.") I asked the pastor why, and he told me that churchgoers need to sing it as the holy song it was meant to be, not as some rock song by some hippie.Dan - Fort Collins, Co
Made famous by Cat Stevens, but not written by him.David - Adelaide, United States