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Words: Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, aka Lina Sandell (b. Oct. 3, 1832; d. July 27, 1903); English translation by A. Samuel Wallgren (b. June 27, 1885; d. Aug. 6, 1940)
Music: Wilhelm Theodor Söderberg (b. Oct. 6, 1845; d. Nov. 1, 1922)
Note: The author was the daughter of a Lutheran pastor in Sweden. Not physically strong as a child, she often stayed inside in her father’s study, while friends were out playing. Her poetic gift appeared early. Lina published her first book of poems when she was only fifteen.
In 1867, she married Stockholm merchant C. O. Berg, and used a hyphenated last name afterwards. Known to some as the Fanny Crosby of Sweden, she wrote over six hundred hymns–some created while she was still in her teens. A number of these have been translated into English, including her song about how to begin the day. The hymn was published in 1884.
As to where one should begin, we have the comic wisdom in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: “Begin at the beginning,” the king said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” (Any preacher who tends to ramble on and on should consider that advice!)
As to the importance of beginning a task, we learn that from Mary Poppins, who said, “Well begun is half done”–though the saying didn’t originate with her. Aristotle said it, about three centuries before the time of Christ. Even earlier, Pythagoras expressed it this way: “The beginning is half of the whole.” In other words, to make a good start is to be well on the way to achieving the end result.
When we turn to the word of God, we find a great deal said about beginnings. Some form of the word is used 133 times, Old Testament and New, from the first verse of the Bible, to near the end of the last chapter of Revelation, where the Lord Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:13)
The Bible opens with, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). In connection with that, John affirms the deity of Christ, whom he calls the Word. “ In the beginning was the Word [i.e. He already existed at the beginning of creation], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1; cf. vs. 14).
Four times, in the book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” (e.g. Rev. 1:8). These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is as though the One called “the Word” is declaring that all words–all truth–is wrapped up in Him. So if we are to begin at the beginning we must begin with Him. No wonder Proverbs tells us, “The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10).
Christians sometimes refer to having daily devotions, or a daily quiet time. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. To open the Scriptures and read what God has to teach us there, and to spend time in prayer before Him. Some use a devotional book or magazine as a guide. That’s fine. But make sure you keep the focus on the inspired Word of God. Follow a system that you find helpful. The important thing is to get into the Scriptures. To the extent we do that, in thoughtful sincerity, we are beginning the day with Him.
Lina Sandell wrote a hymn about that. It says:
CH-1) I with Thee would begin, O my Saviour so dear,
On the way that I still must pursue;
I with Thee would begin every day granted here,
As my earnest resolve I renew
To be and remain Thine forever.
CH-3) Let Thy Word all divine be my lamp in whose light
I may constantly keep to Thy way;
And each day wouldst Thou cleanse me anew, make me white
In the blood shed for me on that day
The cross Thou didst suffer, Lord Jesus.
As a final thought, the author recognizes that the Lord Jesus was not only the “Alpha,” where to begin each day, but He is also the “Omega,” the wisest way to end it. With that in mind, she writes:
CH-4) I with Thee would begin–yea, and hear one more prayer,
I would close with Thee, too, my brief day,
And when daylight has failed, let me sleep in Thy care,
Until waking Thy child Thou dost say,
“Come, live with Me ever in heaven.”
1) What method of daily devotions have you found particularly effective?
2) Is there someone you could share this method with, encouraging them to do the same?