Posted by: rcottrill | January 6, 2012

Day by Day

Words: Karolina (“Lina”) Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg (b. Oct. 3, 1832; d. July 27, 1903)
Music: Blott en Dag (Swedish for Only a Day), by Oscar Ahnfelt (b. May 21, 1813; d. Oct. 22, 1882)

Wordwise Hymns (Lina Sandell); translator Andrew Skoog
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Wordwise Hymns blog will give you both a biography of Karolina Sandell, and a bit about the translator of this hymn into English, Andrew Skoog.

I have a poster in my office that says: “I try to take one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once.” It’s a humorous statement, but of course it’s not accurate. We can only live one day at a time–in fact, just one moment at a time. Only God “inhabits eternity” (Isa. 57:15), and can view all of time as Now. It’s our own tendency to worry and fret that adds the burdens of tomorrow (real or imagined) to the load we’re carrying today. It’s concerning just such a habit that the Lord Jesus addressed these words:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:16).

To this we can add some homely wisdom from pastor and hymn writer John Newton (Amazing Grace):

“Sometimes I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of fagots [sticks gathered for firewood], far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once; He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today, and then another which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on. This we might easily manage, if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day; but we chose to increase our troubles by carrying yesterday’s stick over again today, and adding tomorrow’s burden to our load, before we are required to bear it” (from Out of the Depths, Newton’s autobiography, p. 159).

Look again at the meaning of the Swedish name for the tune for our hymn: “Only a day.” God’s promise to Israel was, “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Deut. 33:25). The same principle applies to the Christian: daily grace for daily needs. Sufficient grace (II Cor. 12:9), but even more made available for the asking (Heb. 4:15-16). Lina Sandell’s marvelous hymn expresses this truth beautifully. It is a hymn that should be used often by the people of God.

CH-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.

CH-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 I reach the promised land.

1) What have you found to be the best practical remedy for worry and anxiety?

2) What are some Bible passages that provide “faith’s sweet consolation” for you personally?

Wordwise Hymns (Lina Sandell); translator Andrew Skoog
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Rarely does a hymn express so well the concept of the Sovereignty of God. The second stanza contains three specific references to Scripture:
    — He Whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r—from Isaiah 9:6
    — The protection of His child and treasure—from Malachi 3:17
    — “As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure”—from Deuteronomy 33:25 (nearly a direct quote; hence, the quotation marks)

    Translating a hymn is no easy task. It is one thing to write a poem with good meter and rhyme; it is quite another to take someone *else’s* poem, translate the concepts into another language, and then incorporate good meter and rhyme. Mr. Skoog did a masterful job with this hymn, however. Note that every phrase rhymes, and with the first phrase of every line, *two* syllables rhyme, thereby making the hymn very easy to memorize.
    Here is the second verse:

    Ev’ry 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.

    And a very personal comment here: I saw God’s protection of me in the last few days, with two flat tires in three days — both flats occurring in “safe” places, with help nearby.

    • Yikes! Two flats! Thank the Lord for His watch-care over you.

      I too love “Day by Day.” In my view, it deserves inclusion with the very best we have in the English language. Churches should use it often enough so folks can quote it from memory.

      You’re right about metre and rhyme. Hard enough in one language. Translated, it gets even trickier, if you’re intent on at least preserving the basic insights of the original. The other thing that’s difficult is combining sound doctrinal truths with an emotional warmth and depth of devotion. At her best, Fanny Crosby does that. And this hymn’s a beautiful example.

  2. Robert, thanks for your comment on my Day By Day blog! I blogged about your blog today, and stole your Newton quote. Hope that’s ok!

    • No problem at all–and I’m sure Mr. Newton won’t mind. 🙂 Drop by any time, and God bless.


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