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 world

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
God’s re-creation of the new day

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 world

Story of Morning Has Broken Lyrics

The “Morning Has Broken” lyrics were written by children’s book writer Eleanor Farjeon.  As a hymn-tune it’s usually called “Bunessan”,  to be found in hymnbooks to the words of a carol, “Child in the Manger”,  written by Mary Macdonald (Dhughallach) who was born in 1789 at Torranuachdrach near Bunessan (1789–1872).  She spoke only Gaelic.   A monument to her can be seen near the crofting village of Ardtun, on the road towards Craignure, just after the Knockan crossroads.  The ruins of the house she lived in are also nearby.

Sometime before 1927 Alexander Fraser heard the melody from a minstrel 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 hymnbook Songs of Praise requested Eleanor Farjeon to write a further hymn text to the tune.  This was “Morning Has Broken” and since 1931 the Scottish folk tune has become most familiarly identified with this hymn.[5]

Geography of Bunessan

Suidhe, a peaceful ruined township on the hill west of Bunessan pier is a scheduled monument of national significance showing occupation and changing use over hundreds of years

From the pier head, walk through the gate stile above the road and head west up the hill following the rough track through the fields. As you climb, looking to the north and east the panoramic seascapes of the islands, north Mull, The Burg cliffs with Ardtun in the foreground are spectacular especially in the early evening summer sun which lights up the dark moody Burg cliffs.

Near the top of the hill in a hollow there are five ruined buildings some with rounded gables and one with squared upper course. The ‘square’ building would be newer than the others possibly with a tin corrugated roof rather than the traditional thatch. In one building there are the remains of a byre – the stone pen dividers are still clearly in evidence.

Perhaps Suidhe was the ‘capital’ of the Ross of Mull at one time – a place to rest and stay en-route to Iona. Geologically it is the transition point from the typical Mull Basalt to the pink Ross of Mull granite. At Suidhe there is a seam of Schist and Quartz which can be easily identified.

The Original Song:

Child in a Manger:

Child in the manger,
Infant of Mary,
Outcast and stranger,
Lord of all!

Child who inherits,
All our transgressions
All our dements
On him fall.

In Gaelic:

Leanabh an aigh
An leanabh aig Mairi
Rugadh san stàbull
Righ nan dùl
Dh’fhulang nar n-àite

A longer version:

Leanabh an àigh, an Leanabh aig Màiri
Rugadh san stàball, Rìgh nan Dùl;
Thàinig do’n fhàsach, dh’fhuiling ’n ar n-àite
Son’ iad an àireamh bhitheas dhà dlùth!

Ged a bhios leanabain aig rìghrean na talmhainn
An greadhnachas garbh is anabarr mùirn,
’S geàrr gus am falbh iad, ’s fasaidh iad anfhann,
An àilleachd ’s an dealbh a’ searg san ùir.

Cha b’ionann ’s an t-Uan thàinig gur fuasgladh
Iriosal, stuama ghluais e’n tùs;
E naomh gun truailleachd, Cruithfhear an t-sluaigh,
Dh’éirich e suas le buaidh o ùir.

Leanabh an àigh, mar dh’aithris na fàidhean;
’S na h-àinglean àrd’, b’e miann an sùl;
’S E ’s airidh air gràdh ’s air urram thoirt dhà
Sona an àireamh bhitheas dhà dlùth.

Here is another, different, citation:

Although caroling at Christmas is an English and not a Gaelic tradition, Gaelic Scotland has produced many beautiful Christmas hymns and songs. One of the best known is “Leanabh an àigh” – “Child of wonder” – written by Mull poetess Màiri NicLùcais, or Mary MacDonald, who was born about 1790-1800 and died in 1872. She was very active in the Baptist church on Mull…

Here is the first verse:

Leanabh an àigh
An leanabh bh’aig Màiri,
Rugadh san stàball,
Rìgh nan dùl;
Thàinig don fhàsach
Dh’fhulang nar n-àite,
Son’ iad an àireamh
Bhitheas dha dlùth.

Child of wonder
The child of Mary,
Born in a stable,
King of all;
He came to the desert
Suffered in our place,
Happy is the host
Who are to him faithful.


Nature is the best storyteller.  A quote From Black Elk Speaks:

“A man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see.”