Title: Morning Has Broken
Author: Eleanor Farjeon
Illustrator: Tim Ladwig
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (September 1996)
Audience: ages 4 and up
Summary: A beautifully illustrated rendition of the popular hymn, this book celebrates the beauty of God’s creation through the eyes of a young boy and his grandfather who greet the day with smiles of wonder followed by an enjoyable walk in the park.
Literary elements at work in the story: People of all ages instantly recognize the memorable melody and powerful lyrics of this popular song as recorded by Cat Stevens in 1971. But few people know that the text (set to the traditional Scottish Gaelic tune “Bunesan”) was originally written some 40 years earlier in 1931 by British poet Eleanor Farjeon. Taking inspiration from Psalm 118:24, Farjeon wrote “Morning Has Broken” for a hymnbook entitled Songs of Praise and later included it in one of her collections of poems entitled The Children’s Bells.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Tim Ladwig, known for his realistic artwork in Psalm Twenty-Three, has given us illustrations that are lush, full of rich color, warm tones, and an eye for detail that brings life to the hymn in a style that is truly striking and speaks volumes to the incredible beauty of nature. From the first page, the connection of the little boy to his grandfather is depicted in a loving and inspiring way. As the two walk together through the rain to the park you feel the love that is shared between them. The generational gap is nonexistent as two people, one young and one old, experience the magnificence of God’s creative power in every detail of life.
Theological Conversation Partners: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and we stand in awe and wonder at the power and majesty of that creation. When there was nothing – God was already there. Where there was nothing – God was already at work. The creation stories in Genesis 1-2 do not answer all the scientific questions of “how” the world was created (questions that have been debated and argued throughout time in both scientific and religious communities), but rather give tribute and praise to our Almighty God as the Creator of all that was and is in the world. The Psalmist helps us stay focused on what is important in Psalm 118:24 by declaring, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” While the exploration of the “hows” may be intriguing to some, our focus as God’s children is to be upon God, our Creator.
Faith Talk Questions:
- The boy begins his day by looking at the sunrise and giving God praise. How do you begin your day?
- This hymn was inspired by Psalm 118:24. Read this verse from your Bible and commit the words to memory so that you can say them several times during your day as a way to give praise to God for all of creation.
- How can you honor and care for God’s creation? Talk with your family and friends about ways you can take care of all that God has created. Think about nature, creatures, and relationships with others.
- The little boy went on a walk with his grandfather. Who do you like to share time with? What do you like to do with that special person?
This review was written by regular contributor Krista Lovell and is part of a series of reviews of books for children based on hymn texts.
Morning Has Broken by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.