Morning has broken
Like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!
Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing
Fresh from the word!
Sweet the rain's new fall
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
Of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness
Where his feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light
Eden saw play!
Praise with elation,
Praise every morning,
Of the new day!
Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) © Gervase Farjeon.
From The Children's Bells (OUP)
IT'S a poem. It's a song. It's a beautiful prayer of praise.
"Morning has broken", by Eleanor Farjeon, was first published in
1931 under the title "A Morning Song (For the First Day of
Spring)". It quickly became a popular hymn. It is usually sung to
the traditional Gaelic tune Bunessan, which it shares with
the 19th-century Christmas carol "Child in the Manger".
Numerous musicians have since recorded it. In 1971, Cat Stevens
(before he became Yusuf Islam) took it to number six in the US pop
chart, as part of his album Teaser and the Firecat. It has
now become associated with children's services, but I think
deserves a wider audience.
I must confess that I find it hard to find words of genuine
praise when I pray. A few thank-yous, and I'm on to a list of
requests, whether for myself or for others. Perhaps the example of
this prayer might help.
Farjeon is overwhelmed by the beauty of the morning. She
describes the sound of birdsong, sees the sparkle of sunlight on
droplets of dew, and smells the sweetness of the grass. In this
morning, the whole of nature is shot through with the presence of
God, from the references to the first garden in Eden to the image
of Jesus's feet passing across the grass.
But, for Farjeon, this is much more than a hymn to nature. She
later became a Roman Catholic, and described her faith as "a
progression toward which my spiritual life moves rather than a
conversion experience". With a light touch, she alludes to the
source of all these beauties as "springing fresh from the Word" -
from Christ the creator and sustainer of all things. Her sense of
joy and gratitude is palpable. Her response is to "praise with
She also claims the morning as her own, recognising it to be, in
some sense, God's recreation. It brings to mind the verse from
Lamentations 3, favoured by Victorian and Edwardian embroiderers; I
remember it vividly because my mother had a framed version hanging
in her bedroom: "For his compassions fail not, they are new every
morning." Each morning brings a new start, new possibilities, new
Of course, we may not be morning people. Our homes might not be
surrounded by verdant gardens. But, when our moments of joy come
along - the poignancy of a saxophone solo, perhaps, or the smile of
a baby - they can be moments of recreation, and we can turn them
into praise. In fact, they are praise. Among the more prosaic or
disturbing experiences that we might encounter, they become our
So take this poem, song, and prayer as a starting point. Rejoice
in "God's re-creation of the new day", whatever it brings.