AUTHOR: Susan Palo Cherwien
COMPOSER: Gaelic melody SOURCE: Worship & Song
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3086
SCRIPTURE: Luke 24:13-35; 2 Corinthians 4:15
TOPIC: bread; church; compassion; creation; doubt; Easter; Emmaus; fear; grieving; heart; Holy Communion; hope; hospitality; invitation; presence; promise; Resurrection; sadness; signs; strangers; walking; wine
Susan Palo Cherwien (b.1953) studied church music and voice at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1975. In 1993 she graduated with a Master of Liberal Studies from Mundelein College, Chicago, Illinois, concentrating on spirituality, ritual, and the arts. She has had additional study at the Hochschule der Kuenste Berlin, where she studied with Irmgard Hartmann-Dressler. She represented the Hochschule at the International Mendelssohn Competition, Berlin, and the International Pavarotti-Philadelphia Opera Competition in Modena, Italy, and has sung oratorio and lieder concerts throughout the United States and Europe. Her collections of writings and hymns have been published by Augsburg, AugsburgFortress, and Morningstar. She continues as a freelance writer and musician in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband and two sons. She is the author of "In the Desert, on God's Mountain," also in Worship & Song, no. 3029.
Bunessan (Scottish Gaelic: Bun Easain) is a small village on the west coast of Scotland. The Christmas song, "Child in the Manger," written by Gaelic songwriter and poet Mary M. Macdonald (1789-1872), was set to a tune named after the Scottish village of Bunessan for the 1888 Scottish collection, Songs and Hymns of the Gael. After the tune came to the attention of Percy Dearmer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw, they requested writer Eleanor Farjeon compose a new text for BUNESSAN, and "Morning Has Broken" was published with the tune in their 1931 Songs of Praise collection. English folk and pop singer Cat Stevens recorded "Morning Has Broken/BUNESSAN" in 1971. It became a bestseller and popularized the hymn and tune around the world.
Stanza one briefly recalls the events on the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24) where two unnamed disciples are walking, discussing the recent events that led to Jesus' crucifixion and the talk of his resurrection. He joins them on the walk. Upon reaching their destination and sitting down for a meal, Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave the bread, and in those actions, "Christ is made known."
Stanza two identifies us today with those unnamed disciples on the way o Emmaus. We also often go about our walk, filled with doubt, dread, and sadness; but Christ is ever with us, always waiting for our invitation to remain with us.
Stanza three proclaims that Christ is always with us "in bread and wine" when the church gathers.
Stanza four offers a prayer that Christ will remain with us, offering hope in our journey, opening our eyes, setting our hearts to burn for the redemption and resurrection of all creation.
The BUNESSAN tune seems to have the ability to carry and support texts that are either quiet, contemplative, and meditative or more robust and celebratory. The tune works equally well when accompanied by either style of music, and we have both uses in our songbooks. United Methodist Hymnla editor, Carlton Young, who also composed the arrangement for "Morning Has Broken" (no. 145) that is used for "Day of Arising" in Worship & Song, writes of this dual character: "Our harmonization reflects the spirit of Farjeon's hymn of praise and is an alternative to David Evans's gentle rocking lullaby in The Church Hymnary, 1927 rev. ed." Given Young's statement and the fact that "Day of Arising" is a hymn celebrating Christ's victory over death and the risen Christ's presence among us, choose a suitably celebratory volume and tempo for this music.
- Bunessan (Wikipedia)
- NetHymnal, Child in the Manger
- Susan Cherwien on the website of St. John's Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
- Susan Palo Cherwien information on Augsburg-Fortress website
- Information about Susan Palo Cherwien on Luther College's website
- Young, Carlton, Companion to The United Methodist Hymnal. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993.