Hymn: Day by Day
While many people know and love female hymnists such as Charlotte Elliott, Frances Havergal, Anne Steele, and Fanny Crosby, it is unfortunate that the name of Lina Sandell is known by so few.
Lina Sandell (1832-1903) was a Swedish hymn writer who grew up as a Lutheran pastor's daughter in Fröderyd. As a young adult, she witnessed tragedy when her father fell overboard and drowned during a boat trip. The Lord used this dark season to grow her faith.
Sandell wrote over 650 hymns that were used by the Lord to revive the evangelical movement in Sweden. Because guitarist Oskar Ahnfelt set her lyrics to music, her hymns can be adapted by guitarists today.
Many of her best known songs, including "Children of the Heavenly Father" and "Day by Day," were brought to America by Swedish immigrants in the 1800s. Some of these immigrants planted First Swedish Baptist Church in Minneapolis, later renamed Bethlehem Baptist Church, where I now work. Our church often sings this hymn at a service where children are dedicated.
1. Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
2. Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.
3. Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.
The hymn represents a simple statement of trusting God through all of life's circumstances. Sandell's lyric reminds us that our circumstances come "from a Father's hand." The Heidelberg catechism's teaching on God's care for his creation affirms this truth, saying,
God's providence is his almighty and ever present power (Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28), whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures (Heb. 1:3), and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty (Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; Jn. 9:3; Prov. 22:2), indeed, all things, come to us not by chance (Prov. 16:33) but by his fatherly hand (Mt. 10:29).
When considering how to celebrate God's goodness at all times, I commend these Scriptures to our study and this hymn to our singing.
Matthew Westerholm, PhD, (@mwesterholm) serves at Bethlehem College & Seminary as Assistant Professor for Music and Worship and at Bethlehem Baptist Church as a pastor for worship and music at the downtown campus. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three sons.