|"Sweet and Low" by Jessie Wilcox Smith|
Years ago one of my favorite hymns became “Day by Day and With Each Passing Moment.” Since this was in the pre-Internet era, my future friends Google and Wiki weren’t around to provide a quick biography, but I imagined the hymn writer, Carolina Sandell Berg, was likely a busy mom as I was. Perhaps she had penned these words while rocking her youngest to sleep one night at the end of a weary day of caring for her brood. Because, of course, this song was one that I sometimes sang as I put a little one to sleep.
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.
I came to love the verse referenced in the second stanza, “As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,” which comes from Moses’ blessing to the tribe of Asher in Deuteronomy 33:25: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (KJV).
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor 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.
Matthew Henry says that this verse is a promise which also applies to all the spiritual seed of Abraham, and that:
God will wisely proportion their graces and comforts to the services and sufferings he calls them out to. Have they work appointed them? They shall have strength to do it. Have they burdens appointed them? They shall have strength to bear them; and never be tempted above that they are able. Faithful is he that has thus promised, and hath caused us to hope in this promise.
Much later I learned that my speculation on Miss (yes, not Mrs.) Berg’s life had fallen pretty far from the mark. Here's the true story, with thanks to another one of my newer friends, Hymnopedia. Paralyzed when she was 12, Carolina (Lina) Sandell Berg became a woman of great faith. Fourteen years later she was taking a trip with her pastor father when the boat they were on lurched, causing her father to be thrown overboard and drowned. Among the fourteen hymns that came from her pen in response to her grief is "Day by Day." Though Lina’s difficulties and toils were so different than mine, our needs are very much the same. Praise God that He daily provides for His children exactly what we need -- including strength as each day requires.
3. Help me then in eve'ry 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.