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!
I cannot hear the words to Eleanor Farjeon’s joyful, resplendent words above without hearing the voice of Cat Stevens! This morning I was praying the Morning Office, using the highly recommend (by me) Mission of St. Clare web-site (see https://www.missionstclare.com/), when I came across a particularly beautiful rendition of Morning Has Broken, sung by the St. Mary’s Cathedral Choristers (Edinboro, Scotland). The song, set to an old Gaelic melody, never fails to remind me of God’s ever re-creating love and the beauty of the world that she/he, our untamable and grace-filled Creator, has made. And the song, as I looked out the window of my church office, took me outside into the sun, the blue skies, and the sound of birds.
Some folks discourage getting too idyllic or idealized about God’s planet earth which, we all know, is under assault by the forces of climate change, pollution, and human greed trumping the care-taking of the world that sustains us. I am reminded that we all must do all that we can to advocate for cleaner fuels, higher mileage standards, green energy, and the like. But we should not forget to circle back and engage the earth that we claim to advocate for in the first place. Eleanor Farjeon’s gorgeous hymn reminds us that the earth itself sings to God and that we are, blessedly and blissfully, a part of the world that God has made and given us control over. No other organism on the planet can make conscious choices about either sustaining and nourishing “this fragile earth, our island home” (see Prayer C in our Prayer Book) or, instead, following our own worse instincts to place commerce, financial gain and, frankly, convenience, over the welfare of this beautiful, life-giving planet.
My favorite parts of my sabbatical trip to England were those times when I was engaged with mother earth. Whether on horseback riding up to a plateau where I could see the Irish Sea; walking on the rocky coast of Lindisfarne on the North Sea; hiking the Canterbury Way with my wife through nearly endless fields of barley and wheat or looking out over a mountain lake with waterfalls in North Wales, I was captivated by the goodness of God, the love of God, and the spectacular gifts of God. Morning Has Broken ends “Ours is the sunlight! Ours is the morning; born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God's recreation, of the new day!” This is the day - and the universe - the Lord has made. We are here for a short while and are called to drink in the magnificence of God in every way, “to have life, and to have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Yes, we are faced by challenges and yes, humanity can be difficult sometimes. But we are people of the earth and there is much to rejoice in. Let us rejoice, in our seeing, our breathing, our hearing, and in our doing.