Featured Hymn: "Day by Day"

“Day by Day”

Carolina Sandell wrote this hymn several years after witnessing the sudden drowning of her father, a tragic event that caused her great distress. Having been through that experience, she still could write about God, “He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what he deems best.” In the second stanza, she refers to Deuteronomy 33:25b: “as your days, so shall your strength be” (ESV). As this hymn is sung, remember that, though no human can accurately foretell the future, God knows what will happen and is also in complete control of all coming events.


The Swedish original text of this hymn was written in 1865 by Carolina Sandell, a prolific hymn writer. Though she wrote hymns throughout her life, she was especially productive in the years following the sudden drowning of her father, which she witnessed in 1858. “Day by Day” is one of two hymns for which she is widely known in America; the other is “Children of the Heavenly Father.” Andrew L. Skoog, who was born in Sweden but immigrated to the United States as a boy, translated this hymn into English. Other translations have been made, but Skoog's is by far the most popular. Each of the three stanzas of this hymn expresses a firm belief that God will take care of the future, and that all the Christian must do is trust in Him and follow Him day by day.


“Day by Day” is always sung to BLOTT EN DAG, which is the tune written for it by Oscar Ahnfelt in 1872. The title comes from the opening words of the Swedish text, “Blott en dag, ett ögonblick i sänder.” Ahnfelt was called the “spiritual troubadour” in his day. He traveled from place to place, singing songs such as this one, accompanying himself on guitar. BLOTT EN DAG is easy to sing, with the only potential trouble spot being the leap to the high note in the third phrase. Though the tune may be sung in parts, its simplicity is best emphasized by unison singing, perhaps with simple guitar accompaniment.


View this Featured Hymn at Hymnary.org.