Morning Has Broken

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Morning Has Broken
by same composer as for Bunessan
Eleanor Farjeon (Элеанор Фарджон).jpg
Eleanor Farjeon
GenreChristian hymn
TextEleanor Farjeon
Meter5.5.5.4 D
MelodyBunessan (hymn tune)
Performed1931 (1931)

"Morning Has Broken" is a popular and well-known Christian hymn first published in 1931. It has words by English author Eleanor Farjeon and was inspired by the village of Alfriston in East Sussex, then set to a traditional Scottish Gaelic tune known as "Bunessan"[1] (it shares this tune with the 19th century Christmas Carol "Child in the Manger"[2]). It is often sung in children's services and in funeral services.[3]

English pop musician and folk singer Cat Stevens included a version on his 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat. The song became identified with Stevens due to the popularity of this recording. It reached number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, number one on the U.S. easy listening chart in 1972,[4] and number four on the Canadian RPM Magazine charts.


The hymn originally appeared in the second edition of Songs of Praise (published in 1931), to the tune "Bunessan", composed in the Scottish Islands. In Songs of Praise Discussed, the editor, Percy Dearmer, explains that as there was need for a hymn to give thanks for each day, English poet and children's author Eleanor Farjeon had been "asked to make a poem to fit the lovely Scottish tune." A slight variation on the original hymn, also written by Eleanor Farjeon, can be found in the form of a poem contributed to the anthology Children's Bells, under Farjeon's new title, "A Morning Song (For the First Day of Spring)", published by Oxford University Press in 1957. The song is noted in 9
time but with a 3

"Bunessan" had been found in L. McBean's Songs and Hymns of the Gael, published in 1900.[5] Before Farjeon's words, the tune was used as a Christmas carol, which began "Child in the manger, infant of Mary", translated from the Scottish Gaelic lyrics written by Mary MacDonald. 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.

Cat Stevens recording[edit]

"Morning Has Broken"
Morning Broken Cat Stevens.jpg
Single by Cat Stevens
from the album Teaser and the Firecat
Released7 Jan 1972 [6]
GenreSoft rock, gospel
Songwriter(s)Lyrics: Eleanor Farjeon
Music: Bunessan (traditional)
Additional music: Rick Wakeman
Producer(s)Paul Samwell-Smith
Cat Stevens singles chronology
"Peace Train"
"Morning Has Broken"
"Can't Keep It In"

Writing credit for "Morning Has Broken" has occasionally been erroneously attributed to Cat Stevens,[7] who popularised the song abroad. The familiar piano arrangement on Stevens' recording was composed and performed by Rick Wakeman, a classically trained keyboardist best known for his tenure in the English progressive rock band Yes.

When shaping "Morning Has Broken" for recording, Stevens started with a hymn, which took around 45 seconds to sing in its basic form. Producer Paul Samwell-Smith told him he could never put something like that on an album, and that it had to be at least three minutes, though an acoustic demo of an early Stevens version lasts almost three minutes.[8] Prior to the actual recording Stevens heard Wakeman play something in the recording booth. It was a rough sketch of what would later become "Catherine Howard". Stevens told Wakeman that he liked it and wanted something similar as the opening section, the closing section and, if possible, a middle section as well. Wakeman told Stevens he could not as it was his piece destined for a solo album, but Stevens persuaded him to adapt his composition.[9][10]

The familiar piano intro and general structure of the piece may be attributed to Stevens or to Wakeman.

In 2000, Wakeman released an instrumental version of "Morning Has Broken" on an album of the same title. That same year he gave an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live in which he said he had agreed to perform on the Cat Stevens track for £10 and was "shattered" that he was omitted from the credits, adding that he never received the money either.

On his return to performance as Yusuf Islam, Stevens made a payment to Wakeman and apologized for the original non-payment, which arose from confusion and a misunderstanding on the record label's part. On a documentary aired on British television Wakeman stated that he felt Stevens's version of "Morning Has Broken" was a very beautiful piece of music that had brought people closer to religious truth. He expressed satisfaction in having contributed to this.[11] Wakeman included a 3:42 version on his 2017 album of piano arrangements, Piano Portraits.

The song changes keys back and forth four times. The first, second, and fourth verses of the song are played in C major, while the instrumental introduction, third verse, and the instrumental ending are played in D major.

Chart history[edit]

Other versions[edit]

Although some sources report that the song was released on Floyd Cramer's 1961 album Last Date, discographies of the artist demonstrate that the song is not on that album. In fact, Cramer did not record the song until 1972, when he used the arrangement that he attributed to Cat Stevens.[21]

The song has been recorded by numerous other artists, including The New Seekers, Steven Curtis Chapman, Judy Collins, Michael Card, Floyd Cramer, Dana, Neil Diamond, Órla Fallon, Art Garfunkel, Ellen Greene, Esther Ofarim, Daliah Lavi, Joe Longthorne, Jojje Wadenius & Anni-Frid Lyngstad (2010),[22] the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Nana Mouskouri, Aaron Neville, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, Joseph McManners, Sister Janet Mead, Mary O'Hara, Demis Roussos, Third Day, The Brilliance, Pam Tillis, Hayley Westenra, Roger Whittaker, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Libera (choir),[23] Richard Souther and Dana Winner.

In November 2008, the Teaser and the Firecat album was re-issued in a deluxe CD version that includes the original demo of "Morning Has Broken".

More recently, "Morning Has Broken" was used in a television advertisement for London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The song has been translated or adapted into many languages, including German ("Schön ist der Morgen", performed by Nana Mouskouri among others), French ("Matin brisé", performed by Eva on her 1972 album L'orage), and others.[24]

In other media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Morning Has Broken". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Child in the Manger". Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Ed. (Billboard Publications),
  5. ^ Percy Dearmer, Songs of Praise Discussed, p.16
  6. ^
  7. ^ Moore, Roger (30 October 2014). "Radcliffe swaps magic wand for skull protrusions in 'Horns'". Retrieved 1 November 2014. When you set aside time for sex scenes, a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken” treated as a hymn in church and drag out the post-climax ending, you’re overstaying your welcome.
  8. ^ "Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (Demo)". YouTube. 2013-11-16. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  10. ^ "Rick Wakeman telling the story of recording Morning has Broken with Cat Stevens". YouTube.
  11. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  12. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Morning Has Broken". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  15. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 15 May 1972
  16. ^
  17. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  18. ^ Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart Archive, May 13, 1972
  19. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, June 10, 1972
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Floyd Cramer". Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  22. ^ "Reconnection / Georg Wadenius" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  23. ^ Recorded on the album Angels Sing: Libera in America
  24. ^ Secondhand songs page lists about 10 adaptations.
  25. ^ "Smell of Success". The CW.

External links[edit]