Hymnody: “Day by Day”

Lina Sandell (1832–1903) was a Swedish hymnist and the daughter of Lutheran minister, Jonas Sandell. She greatly loved her father, and since she was a frail child, she frequently spent a great deal of time with him in his study rather than outside with her friends.

The story is told that the doctors had not given much hope for Lina’s recovery from her partial paralysis, but that her parents always believed that God would heal her. It is told that, when she was twelve years old, her parents came home one day to find her fully dressed and walking unassisted. It was from this time that she began to write hymns of gratitude to God.

When she was 26 years old, Lina accompanied her father on a boat trip across Lake Vättern to the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Jonas fell overboard and drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter. That tragedy greatly influenced her hymn writing, in which she began to pour out her broken heart in song.

Lina went on to write over 600 hymns. So prolific was she, that she has often been called Sweden’s Fanny Crosby. The revival that swept through the Scandinavian countries during the latter half of the nineteenth century was greatly influenced by her hymns.

Lina was married to C. O. Berg, a Stockholm merchant, in 1867, but continued to sign her hymns with the initials “L. S.” She died in 1903 and was buried at Solda Church in greater Stockholm.

One of the Lina’s songs, in which she poured out a broken heart, is “Day by Day,” written in 1865, just a few years after her father’s death. Originally written in Swedish, the hymn was translated into English by Andrew L. Skoog (1856–1934), with music provided by Oscar Ahnfelt.

The song speaks about God’s kind providence in allowing trials and granting grace to persevere in them. It speaks about the fact that, despite difficulties, God is committed to the protection of his people, and concludes in the final stanza with a prayer to God to help the singer persevere joyfully in the midst of trials.

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, it’s 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 I reach the promised land.

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