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Published on Sep 11, 2008
"Morning Has Broken" is a favorite and well-known hymn, especially popular in children's services.
Pop and folk singer Cat Stevens included an acoustic version on his 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat. It became a signature song for Stevens when it reached number 6 on the US pop chart and #1 on the US adult contemporary chart in 1972.
The lyrics were written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1922 and are found in the hymnals of many denominations. The original poem can be found in the anthology "Children's Bells" under Farjeon's original title A Morning Song (For the First Day of Spring), published by Oxford University Press in 1957. The tune to which it is normally sung is called "Bunessan", based upon a Scottish Gaelic traditional melody. Before Farjeon's words, it was used as a Christmas carol which began "Child in the manger, Infant of Mary", translated from the Gaelic lyrics written by Mary MacDonald. The English-language Roman Catholic hymnal also uses the tune for the hymn "This Day God Gives Me".
Writing credit for "Morning Has Broken" has occasionally been erroneously attributed to Stevens, who popularized the song abroad. The familiar piano arrangement on Stevens' album was performed by Rick Wakeman, a classically trained keyboardist with the English progressive rock band Yes. 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" to be omitted from the credits, adding that he never received the money either.
The familiar piano intro and general structure of the piece may be attributed to Stevens or to Wakeman. 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.