Bunessan (hymn tune)

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Bunessan is a hymn tune originally associated with the Christmas carol "Child in the Manger".[1] It is named for the village of Bunessan in the Ross of Mull.

History[edit]

Mary M. Macdonald (Màiri Dhòmhnallach in Scottish Gaelic) (1789–1872), who lived in the crofting community of Ardtun near Bunessan and spoke only Gaelic, wrote her hymn "Leanabh an àigh" to a traditional melody.[2] When the words were translated into English in the 1880s, the melody was named after the village of Bunessan by the translator, Lachlan Macbean.[3][4] A monument to Mary Macdonald can be seen about 1.5 miles east of the village, on the road towards Craignure.[5] The ruins of the house where she lived are also nearby.

The English-language Roman Catholic hymnal also uses the tune for the James Quinn hymns, "Christ Be Beside Me" and "This Day God Gives Me," both of which were adapted from the traditional Irish hymn St. Patrick's Breastplate. Another Christian hymn, "Baptized In Water," borrows the tune.

Sometime before 1927 Alexander Fraser heard the melody in the Scottish Highlands and wrote it down so that it came to the attention of Percy Dearmer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw. In turn, these editors of the hymn book Songs of Praise requested Eleanor Farjeon to write a further hymn text to the tune. This was "Morning Has Broken", and since 1931 the tune has become most familiarly identified with this hymn.[6] In 1971, a version of "Morning Has Broken" was recorded by British singer Cat Stevens, helping popularize the tune.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Child in the Manger". Cyber Hymnal. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  2. ^ MacNab, Peter (1999). Mull and Iona:Highways and Byways. Edinburgh: Luath Press.
  3. ^ Macbean, L. (1888). The Songs and Hymns of the Scottish Highlands. Edinburgh.
  4. ^ "Highland Council on-line archive".
  5. ^ Explore Mull: Mary Macdonald’s Memorial (picture and directions)
  6. ^ McCann, Forrest M. (1997). Hymns & History: An Annotated Survey of Sources. Abilene, TX: ACU Press. pp. 200, 399. ISBN 0-89112-058-0.