“DAY BY DAY”

Wayne S. Walker

“Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits…” (Ps. 68.19)

     INTRO.:  A song that expresses thanks to God and encourages
dependence on God for the daily benefits with which the Lord provides us
is “Day By Day” (#147 in “Hymns for Worship Revised”).  The text was
written by Carolina Vilhelmina Sandell Berg, who was born at Froderyd in
Smaland, Sweden, on Oct. 3, 1872, the daughter of Jonas Sandell, a
Swedish Lutheran minister.  As a young child, she was stricken with a
paralysis that confined her to bed with little chance of recovery, but by
age twelve she had improved so that she was able to walk.  From this
experience, she began jotting down verses to express her gratitude to
God, and at age sixteen she published her first book of such poems.  One
of her most famous hymn texts, “Children of the Heavenly Father,” comes
from her teenage years and is a testimony to the spiritual upbringing
that she received in her home.

     In 1858, at the age of 26, Lina, as she was commonly called, was
accompanying her father aboard a ship from Jonkoping to Gothenberg across
Lake Vattern.  The ship gave a sudden lurch which caused her father to
fall overboard and drown before her very eyes.  Then in 1860 her mother
also died.  The following year, she took up residence in a home
maintained by the Evangelical National Foundation and joined their
editorial staff becoming acquainted with the Swedish musician Oscar
Ahnfelt (1813-1882).  This hymn, with reminiscences of her own father’s
untimely death, was produced in 1865, between the time of her mother’s
death and her marriage at age 35 to Carl Oscar Berg, a wealthy merchant
and leader in the Swedish temperance movement, in 1867.  It was first
published as a poem in “Korsblomman,” a yearly volume of stories and
poems which she edited, in 1866.  The tune (Bott en dag or Ahnfelt) was
provided by Ahnfelt, and the song first appeared in his “Andeliga Sanger”
in 1872.

     Carolina authored more than 650 hymns in her lifetime, many of which
were brought to America by Swedish immigrants, and she has been called
“the Fanny Crosby of Sweden.”  Her marriage was a happy one, although her
first son died at birth.  Her best hymns resulted from tragedies such as
this and reflect a simple, child-like trust in the Savior with a deep
sense of His abiding presence.  She and her husband founded a sailor’s
mission in Sweden.  In spite of her frail body, she lived to be 71 years
of age and died at Stockholm, Sweden, on July 27, 1903.  The English
translation was made in 1921 by Andrew Skoog (1856-1934).  The son of a
tailor whose family had migrated from Sweden to the United States, he
became a publisher, musician, and hymnbook editor.  Among hymnbooks
published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of
Christ during the twentieth century, this hymn can be found in the 1977
“Special Sacred Selections,” the 1986 “Great Songs Revised,” the 1992
“Praise for the Lord,” and the 1994 “Songs of Faith and Praise,” as well
as “Hymns for Worship.”

     This hymn encourages us to put our trust in God on a daily basis.

I. In stanza 1, we are told to trust in God’s kindness and presencewherever we go.
“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 who’s 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.”
  A. God has promised His people strength to meet their trials in this
life: 2 Cor. 12.9
  B. He assures us that we need not be afraid or dismayed because He will
guide us as long as we seek to do His will: Josh. 1.9
  C. Therefore, we can look to Him to give us day by day what He deems
best for the renewing of our spirits: 2 Cor. 4.16

II. In stanza 2, we are told to trust in God’s protection and pledge to
provide for our needs.
“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 Power.
The protection of His child and treasure Is a charge that on Himself He
laid;
‘As your days, your strength shall be in measure,’ This the pledge to me
He made.”
  A. God has promised that He will be with us that He might provide
protection: Isa. 41.10
  B. Therefore, we can be confident that He does care for us: 1 Pet. 5.7
  C. Because He cares for us, He will protect us and provide us with
strength to meet whatever challenges our days bring us: Deut. 33.24

III. In stanza 3, we are told to trust in God’s care and concern for us
as our Father.
“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 I reach the promised
land.”
  A. We are most certainly going to experience trials and tribulations,
toils and troubles, in this life: Jas. 1.2-12
  B. However, just as any good father is concerned about his children, so
we can know that our heavenly Father cares enough about us to give us
good things to help us: Matt. 7.7-12
  C. Thus, we can trust in Him to lead us, day by day, on our journey to
the promised land where we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever:
Ps. 23.1-6

     CONCL.:  The first time that I saw this hymn (in an
inter-denominational hymnbook, “Great Hymns of the Faith,” published in
1968 by Singspiration, then a division of Zondervan Publishing House), I
fell in love with it and have wished that it had been included in more of
our books through the years.  Many people are apprehensive about the
future, wondering when some health problems or financial difficulties may
strike.  Even God’s people never know when times of sorrow or difficulty
may occur.  But those who are truly Christians find strength to cope with
the challenges and difficulties of today by trusting in God, and they can
also leave tomorrow to the Lord.  Therefore, we can express a deep and
peaceful trust in the Lord as we ask Him for His help “Day By Day.”

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