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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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