Morning Is Here
The beautiful songs and sounds of nature
by The Revd Alan M. Barker (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore and celebrate the songs and sounds of nature.
Preparation and materials
Have available some recordings of birdsong and the dawn chorus, and the means to play these during the assembly. The dawn chorus recording is 10.04 minutes long:
- birdsong, available at: http://www.british-birdsongs.uk/
- dawn chorus, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jR2VjukqE0
You will also need some images of birds to accompany these recordings, such as images of the blackbird, collared dove, blue tit, rook or cuckoo.
Ask the children if they have ever been woken up by the sound of birds singing. Explain that birds respond to the first light in what is called the ‘dawn chorus’. Each species (or ‘kind’) of bird has a different song, but they all join together in welcoming a new day.
Introduce the songs and/or images of three or four familiar birds, such as the blackbird, collared dove, blue tit, rook or cuckoo. See if the children can identify a bird simply by listening. When they have made a few guesses, confirm the identity of each bird.
Reflect that we don’t always listen to the sounds of nature as much as we might. We may be asleep or we may simply not be listening! Traditionally, the first Sunday in May is International Dawn Chorus Day. On this day, people all over the world get up very early (in the UK, at just after 4 a.m.) to listen to the dawn chorus. However, we can listen to the dawn chorus any time!
Explain that you are going to play a dawn chorus for everyone to hear. How good is everyone at listening? Will a blackbird be heard?
Ask the children to listen carefully as they listen to ‘nature’s music’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jR2VjukqE0
Allow the children to respond to what they have heard and ask the following questions.
- Have you ever been awake and outside at dawn?
- How did you feel?
Daybreak can fill us with a sense of awe and wonder. It can be the start of us wanting to join in with a chorus of praise.
It may remind us of the passage in the Bible where we read about the creation of the world. In this story, God said ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.
Introduce the song, ‘Morning has broken’. If the children are not familiar with this song, read it as a poem. The song arises from the experience of listening to the dawn chorus (which includes a blackbird), and the delights of a spring morning.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to listen again to the sounds of birdsong. Ask them how it makes them feel. What pictures come to their minds as they listen?
Open our eyes to see the beauty of the Earth
And our ears to hear the music of creation.
Open our minds to grasp new experiences
And our lips to gladly sing your praise
Today and every day.
‘Morning has broken’ (Come and Praise, 1)