Written and composed by New York City-born songwriter Chip Taylor, "Angel of the Morning" was originally offered to Connie Francis to sing, but she turned it down because she thought that it was too risqué for her career. The song's narrator describes the breakup of a presumably illicit love affair: "If morning's echo says we've sinned, well, it was what I wanted now."
Taylor produced a recording of the song with Evie Sands but the financial straits of Cameo-Parkway Records, which had Sands on their roster, reportedly prevented either that version's release or its distribution. Other early recordings of the song were made in 1967 by Danny Michaels for Lee Hazlewood's LHI label and by UK vocalist Billie Davis.
"Angel of the Morning" finally became a hit in 1968 via a recording by Merrilee Rush made that January at American Sound Studios in Memphis with Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill producing. Rush had come to Memphis through the group she fronted, the Turnabouts, being the opening act for a Paul Revere and the Raiders tour. While in Memphis, the Raiders recorded the album Going to Memphis at American Sound Studios, an association which led to Rush's discovery by Tommy Cogbill who had been hoping to find the right voice for "Angel of the Morning" - he had kept a tape of the demo of that song constantly in his pocket for several months. Rush recorded the song and the tracks which would comprise her Angel of the Morning album with the American Sound houseband although the single and the album would be credited to the group Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts. The "Angel of the Morning" single was released in February 1968 to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 that June peaking at No. 7. A No. 1 hit in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, "Angel of the Morning" also afforded Rush a hit in the Netherlands (No. 4). "Angel of the Morning" earned Rush a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Rush would cut a new version of the song for her 1977 eponymous album release. Rush's version of "Angel of the Morning" would be featured on the soundtrack of the 1999 film Girl, Interrupted - whose time frame is 1967-68 - in which composer Chip Taylor's niece Angelina Jolie had a starring role.
In the United Kingdom where the Merrilee Rush version had failed to reach the Top 50 stalling at No. 55, "Angel of the Morning" reached No. 29 in August 1968 via a rendition by P.P. Arnold who had sung background on the 1967 Billie Davis version; Arnold's version was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. In 1977 Mary Mason also had a UK Top 30 hit with her version (in fact a medley of two Chip Taylor songs: "Angel of the Morning - Any Way That You Want Me"), which reached No. 27. British act Guys 'n' Dolls had a hit in the Netherlands in 1977 with "Angel of the Morning", their version reaching No. 11 on the Dutch chart.
The most successful C&W version of the song - tying with the Juice Newton version discussed in the paragraph below - is the 1978 release by Melba Montgomery which reached No. 22 on the Billboard C&W chart. Previously "Angel of the Morning" had appeared on the Billboard C&W chart via a rendition by Connie Eaton (No. 34, 1970).
The highest-charting and best-selling version in the United States was recorded and released in 1981 by country-rock singer Juice Newton for her album Juice, released on Capitol Records. Newton remade the song at the suggestion of Steve Meyer who promoted Capitol Records product to radio stations and felt a version of "Angel of the Morning" by Newton would be a strong candidate for airplay.  Newton would state that she would never have herself thought of recording "Angel of the Morning", and although she immediately recognized the Merrilee Rush hit when Meyer played it for her (quote): "I [hadn't been] really aware of that song because...when [it] was popular I was listening to folk music and R&B and not Pop, and that was a very Pop song."  Newton's version reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 22 on the Billboardcountry music chart, and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboardadult contemporary chart in April of that year. The recording also earned Newton a Grammy nomination in the same category as Rush's 1968 hit. More than 1 million units of Newton's single of the song were sold in the United States, and the single reached the Top 10 in a number of other countries, including Canada and Australia. In the UK, this recording reached No. 43 on the UK Singles Chart, marking the song's third appearance on that chart without becoming a truly major hit. Newton recorded the song again in 1998 for her The Trouble with Angels album.
The song "Angel", by reggae artist Shaggy, heavily samples "Angel of the Morning", using the melody with different words for the sung refrain. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending March 31, 2001.
Swedish singer Jill Johnson released "Angel of the Morning", with lyrics in English, in 2007 from her cover album Music Row. This version peaked at No. 30 at the Swedish singles chart.
In Finnish as "Kaipuu" a 1968 single by Pepe Willberg and also as "Jos Itket Silloin" recorded by Pirjo Lehti for her 1985 Se On Rakkautta Oikeaa album.
In Italian as "Gli occhi verdi dell'amore" which was a 1969 hit in Italy at No. 9 for I Profeti.
In German as "Der Engel der Verdammten" by Juliane Werding on her 1975 album Wenn du denkst, dass du denkst, dann denkst du nur, du denkst and also as " "Ich bin dein Engel bis zum Morgen" a 1981 single by Suzanne Klee.
The Toyota Highlander "Kid Cave" commercial, aired from late 2010, features a young boy who is embarrassed by his parents' singing of the song while he is riding with them in a car.
The song features in an episode of ABC's sitcom Modern Family, "Regrets Only" (Series 2, Ep 16), when Gloria, portrayed by Sofia Vergara, is singing along to it on a karaoke machine. A karaoke version of the song is also featured in the second season finale of the HBO series The Leftovers.