Morning Has Broken

Album: Teaser And The Firecat (1971)
Charted: 9 6


  • Stevens got the lyrics from a hymn book he found at a bookstore while looking for (public domain) 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, where Stevens grew up and attended church, could 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, which is based on a melody called "Bunessan" (named for a small island town in Scotland), predated "Morning" and was written in Gaelic by Mary MacDonald before being translated into English. For Scottish children it was a Christmas hymn. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Marjorie - San Jose, CA
  • Rick Wakeman, who was a session musician at the time, played the piano on this track, marking the first time he appeared on a hit single. He joined Yes a short time later.
  • In America, if you heard a British singer-songwriter on the radio in the early '70s, it was most likely an ex-Beatle. If not, it was probably Cat Stevens.

    In 1967, when he was 18, Stevens had a string of hits in the UK that got little notice in America, but he caught on in 1971 with the hit singles "Wild World" and "Peace Train." With demand for his back catalog, four of his albums charted in 1971, and that momentum carried into 1972 with "Morning Has Broken," which went to #6. He remained one of the most popular solo artists in the US until 1977, which he converted to Islam and took the name Yusuf Islam. He released one more album as Cat Stevens in 1978, but then stopped making secular music. In the late '90s, he started re-issuing and performing his Cat Stevens songs again - at least the ones that jibed with his faith (no "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun"). "Morning Has Broken," despite being based on a Christian hymn, is one he embraced.
  • Neil Diamond recorded this in 1992 for his Christmas album (yes, Diamond is Jewish, but he loves Christmas music). His version went to #36 in the UK.

Comments: 30

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI have a very pleasant memory of this song: My clock radio came on playing it and for a short time, the gentle music and words merged with my semi-conscious mind and for a short time, I dreamt that I was floating over a misty field, watching the sun rise. I'm grateful for any song that can create such a memory as this one did.
  • Chris from Germany Not my favorite song of Cat Stevens.

    Such a great singer but I think Wild World and other songs are better than this. At school we had to sing this song in English lessons.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaThank you for telling us who played that lovely piano part, it is soo inspiring.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 26th 1972, "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #78; eight weeks later on May 21st, 1972 it would peak at #6 {for 2 weeks} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on May 7th, 1972 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart; it peaked at #4 in three different countries {Canada, Australia, and Norway}...
    Between 1971 and 1979 he had fourteen Top 100 records; with four making the Top 10, his other three Top 10 records were "Peace Train" {#7}, "Oh Very Young" {#10}, and "Another Saturday Night' {#6}...
    He just missed having a fifth Top 10 record when his debut record, "Wild World", peaked at #11 in 1971...
    Cat Stevens, born Steven Demetre Georgiou aka Yusuf Islam, will celebrate his 67th birthday in four months on July 21st {2016}.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationTaken 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."
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxSung nicely much later by Christian singer Michael Card, but not as well as Cat did. Pity he turned his back on its meaning.
  • Derek from Auckland, New ZealandThe 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
    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.
  • Sarah from Eastern Passage, NsI 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. xD
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrDan 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.
  • Farrah from Elon, NcThis song is in our church hymnal. I absolutely love it!!!
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThis 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.
  • Floria from Us, ScWild 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.
  • Mary from Yuma, AzThis song is often sung as a hymn in our church.
    Mary, Arizona
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesAdam - 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! :-)
  • Adam from Philadelphia, PaThe 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."
  • Derek from Cambridge, New ZealandQuite simply, a beautiful song sung brilliantly!
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrAnne 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.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyAnn -- "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".
  • Randy from Lexington, KyThis 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.
  • Michael from Tasmania, AustraliaBeautiful 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
  • Lynn from Honolulu, HiAnnabelle,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.:)

  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThe 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"
  • Don from Wilmington, DeThis 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...
  • Hallie from San Diego, CaWhen I die, this song will be the main one for my wake (if I decide to have one.) It says it all.
  • Keith from Slc, UtThe "shaggy-dog" version:

    "Morning has broken, call the repairman!"
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhen 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!
  • Edward Pearce from Ashford, Kent, EnglandThe lyrics come from a children's hymn written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1930 which was based on Psalm 118.
  • Dan from Fort Collins, CoFunny 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.
  • David from Adelaide, United StatesMade famous by Cat Stevens, but not written by him.
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