Morning has broken

It's no strange thing for me to suddenly fall in love with a hymn. One that's old, but new to me. One that maybe I'd heard before but holds new meaning in a more matured heart.

This week, that love of the old hymns resurfaced through none other than Cat Stevens.

You can't deny the beauty of this hymn (which pre-dates Stevens by a good four decades, by the way), no matter how unconventional the bearer here.

My iTunes was also graced with a few more hymns from a less unsuspecting group last week.

Gungor, that interpretive, liturgical post-rock, apophatic, uber-talented, (whatever else they are) mess that they are, released a few tracks to their e-mail newsletter from what I understand were songs that didn't quite fit on this mysterious upcoming record. These tracks were none other than some beautifully done hymns. Something about Gungor doing hymns, knowing their history and journey and artistic stances, and knowing their roots in church music, makes the hymns so reverent. There's an air of sacredness to the rendition, every time. I can't explain it.

I guess there's a sort of similarity between Gungor and Cat Stevens. I know that Stevens certainly didn't live a Christian lifestyle, and eventually turned to Islam (which silenced his musical career... interesting). Gungor, as a group, continues to explore artistically with their work, and that's bringing them into all kinds of new places. I think their connection to their roots is still evident in the recent release of these hymns, and perhaps Stevens's hymn cover was meant to show a gospel root.

Maybe the beautiful thing is a wandering, exploring soul momentarily returning to where they've been. Or maybe it's where they're going. Perhaps it's just where they belong.

I like to think so. I like to reverence that sense and longing for homecoming as something that was ingrained into our spirits, and is stirred by the fragrance of holiness.

I think that returning is holy.

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 ev'ry morning,
God's recreation of the new day.

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