STJ#1000, Morning Has Come

I AM SO EXCITED I could plotz!

Not only am I cracking the cover of the next hymnal this morning, I am singing one of my top ten favorite hymns, composed by the delightful Jason Shelton.

This venture into Singing the Journey will look a little bit different than our time with Singing the Living Tradition. First, our main resource shifts from Between the Lines to a Song Information page at the UUA website. Second, in a number of cases, I am friends with the composers, thanks to my activity in the UU Musicians Network. Hopefully some of them will offer additional insights. It will be interesting to look at the “teal hymnal”, still considered new by many congregations’ standards, yet even in 12 years since publication will already show the same aging that we noticed in STLT; things like our language expanding and our cultural understanding deepening.

But first and foremost, as always, this remains a spiritual practice, where I get to sing.

And OH how I love to sing this one. While written in 4/4, the rolling triplets call for a 12/8 feel, which brings energy and vibrancy to the piece. The soaring phrase in the chorus beckons the sun and our energy, which is – not surprisingly – intentional. As noted on the Song Information page,

This song was composed for and debuted at a morning worship service during the 2001 UUMN conference at the Mountain in Highlands, NC. As the story goes, it had been rainy and gray all week long, but when the time came to debut this song the sun came out and shone gloriously through the chapel windows. Ah, the power of music!

It is, for me, the perfect opening hymn more times than not, and I have to resist the urge to not overuse it.

Morning has come, arise and greet the day!
Dance with joy and sing a song of gladness!
The light of hope here shines upon each face.
May it bring faith to guide our journey home.

A new day dawns, once more the gift is giv’n.
Wonder fills this moment shared together.
The light of peace here shines upon each face.
May it bring faith to guide our journey home.

Open our eyes to see that life abounds;
open hearts to welcome it among us.
The light of love here shines upon each face.
May it bring faith to guide our journey home.

And okay, yes, it doesn’t do a lot more than set the scene for the day. I know I have gotten annoyed at songs that just sit there not doing any work, and I suppose a case could be made for this song being the same way, except then you’d have to toss out the Kalidasa reading we all love too – because “look to this day! For it is life, the very life of life” does the same amount of work as this song. Namely: ‘wake up! We’re here! Hurrah! Now open up and get ready for all that will come.’

And that’s plenty of work for a hymn to do, especially since it sits at the open door of this hymnal, welcoming us onto this journey too. I mean, they could not have chosen a better first song, right?

This hymn… yeah. It works for me on so many levels.

I just love it.

2 Comments

  1. I like this one as well. The language is just grand enough without going overboard. I don’t like how the triplet feel drops out after the intro, though. I don’t often have a percussionist who can maintain the groove during the verses, so I have to kind of improv a piano part that maintains that triplet feel, while banging out the melody too. But that’s nitpicking a pretty good song.

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