Monday, February 25, 2013

Down in the Valley (Are You Dwelling in the Sunlight?)

Praise for the Lord #127

Words: Mary Barrett, 1922
Music: Leonard Daugherty, 1922

This is the only gospel song I can find attributed to Mary Barrett. We will likely never be sure who wrote these lyrics, but at least two possibilities are worth mentioning. "Mary Barrett" was the pseudonym of Mary O. Nutting (1831-1910), who wrote fiction and non-fiction books for children, as well as magazine articles and Sunday School literature. She was the first librarian of Mount Holyoke College (Nutting Papers, Mt. Holyoke Archives). I have found no reference to poetry or songwriting by Nutting, but she was a nationally known "Mary Barrett" with connections to religious journalism.

Mary P. Barrett of Barrett's Switch near Hartford, Kentucky is another possibility. She was born in 1899 (1920 U.S. Census), and was baptized into Christ at the New Baymus Christian Church on 11 August 1913 (Hartford Herald 13 August 1913 page 5). Leonard Daugherty led singing at a meeting in Hartford during April of 1906 (Hartford Republican 6 April 1906 page 5), and had been in Hartford for at least one earlier meeting (Hartford Herald 27 June 1888 page 3). Mary's education was at Bethlehem Academy, a Catholic girls' school with an outstanding reputation, which certainly would have encouraged any literary gifts she possessed. This school was located just outside Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Daugherty's home town and longtime residence (8 September 1905 page 4). Barrett married Henry Moorman Crider of Louisville in early 1921 (Hartford Herald 2 February 1921 page 4). This is pure speculation, since I have no evidence of her writings, but she was probably at least within Daugherty's circle of acquaintance.

Stanza 1:
Are you dwelling in the sunlight?
Is your path with roses strewn?
Do you walk with buoyant gladness
In the steps that you have hewn?
Have you reached the top of Pisgah?
Climbing always firm and true?
Don't forget that in the valley
There is someone needing you.

The three stanzas of this song ask the same question in different words: Are you in one of the easy stretches of life? If so, the poet suggests, you should take advantage of your blessed position to help those who are not. If we live very long at all, we learn that there are easier and harder times in our lives. My wife and I still speak of 2006 as the annus horribilis, when she was in surgery on two different occasions, both unexpectedly, and with a difficult recovery period after each. Compared to that year, most of our "hard times" have paled in comparison! We have been very blessed over the years with good health and steady employment, assuring that the physical wants of life are covered. But we know that can change in a moment, and the person "in the sunlight" can be "in the valley" in an instant.

Another key point here is seen in the refrain--the person in the valley is "a brother," who is "striving hard and true."  Sometimes people in bad circumstances have brought them on themselves through bad choices, but we all know good Christian people who, like Job, seem to be magnets for disaster and heartache. The person in the valley is not to be looked down upon, however much the metaphor might suggest it.

The person "dwelling in the sunlight," then, is simply one who is experiencing the sunny, unclouded times when life is going smoothly. We should not read too much into the metaphor and suppose that it necessarily means "walking in the light" as that idea is used in 1 John, because the brother in the valley is walking in that light as well. But there are times when life is easier, at least for most of us; here is described a time when your path is "with roses strewn," and you "walk with buoyant gladness." By contrast, the brother in the valley finds his path strewn with obstacles, with each step a struggle. You, the Christian on the sunlit road, are traveling in "steps that you have hewn," perhaps in the sense that you have already cleared many of the obstacles from your way (or more likely, God has cleared them for you) during your own previous struggles. The brother in the valley is still in that hard process of making his way.

The imagery of "the top of Pisgah" is an interesting choice, since it almost certainly refers to Moses in Deuteronomy 34:1, when he viewed the Promised Land from that summit but was not allowed to cross over the Jordan River. In this case, however, the poet probably just means that you, the Christian on the easier path, have reached a place where heaven seems within sight. The brother in the valley, with his head bowed in weariness, can see only the next step he must take.

Here then is the simple point of this hymn: If you are blessed to be in such good circumstances, use your position of strength to help brothers and sisters who are struggling. We place a lot of emphasis on our individual relationships with God, and rightly so. But God did not mean for us to walk with Him alone; He "added us to the church" (Acts 2:47). Just as we were born into a physical family without any personal choice in the matter, we are born into a spiritual family of brothers and sisters who are just as imperfect as we are ourselves. Some are weaker, and some are stronger; but we are  all here together to serve God's purpose in our generation (Acts 13:36).

Lend a hand to help a brother
Who is striving hard and true,
Don't forget that in the valley
There is someone needing you.

The text of the refrain is the same as the second half of stanza 2, which suggests that Barrett's original poem was just the three stanzas. Daugherty may have chosen this section for the refrain because it opens with an imperative to take action, in contrast to the reflective nature of the rest of the text. The responsibility of Christians toward each other is an active engagement, as seen in the many "one another" statements in the New Testament:
  • "Outdo one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10).
  • "Live in harmony with one another" (Romans 12:16).
  • "Welcome one another" (Romans 15:7).
  • "Instruct one another" (Romans 15:14).
  • "Care for one another" (1 Corinthians 12:25).
  • "Comfort one another" (2 Corinthians 13:11).
  • "Serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).
  • "Be kind to one another" (Ephesians 4:32).
  • "Encourage one another and build one another up" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • "Exhort one another every day" (Hebrews 3:13).
  • "Stir up one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24).
  • "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another" (James 5:16).
  • "Show hospitality to one another" (1 Peter 4:9).
  • "Love one another" (first spoken by Jesus in John 13:34; repeated in more than a dozen other passages).
There is a great value to spending periods of time alone with God, but obviously it is not His will that we spend our Christian lives as hermits. Working together with other Christians causes us to put our faith into practice, testing and strengthening the virtues we all desire to possess. And lest we forget, while we are on the "rose-strewn path," we either have needed in the past, or will someday need, a helping hand extended to us!

Stanza 2:
Is your day one round of pleasure,
From the morn till set of sun?
Know you not of pain or sorrow?
Are your victories all won?
Lend a hand to help a brother,
Who is struggling hard and true,
Don't forget that in the valley
There is someone needing you.


It is hard for me to know how to take the poetic imagery used in this hymn to describe the more fortunate Christian. The "rose-strewn path" and "buoyant gladness" of the first stanza seemed like the usual pseudo-Victorian excesses of many an amateur poet. But in the second stanza this flowery verbiage reaches such a pitch that I begin to wonder if it is meant ironically. I cannot read the four questions with which this stanza opens without hearing a sarcastic echo of Rosa Dartle from David Copperfield: "Is it really?" The Christian whose life can be described in such terms of ease needs to be wary; as Jesus said in Luke 6:26, "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you!"

If I am a servant of Christ, I will get my hands dirty, literally and figuratively. I need only look to my Master to learn this; here was the One who took on the role of a servant and washed feet (John 13:14), who touched the leper (Mark 1:41), and who sat down to eat with the rejects of society (Mark 2:15). His true followers will not find a path that is "one round of pleasure!" Paul even described the Lord's apostles, that holy fellowship, in the following words:
To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things (1 Corinthians 4:11-13).
Peter said that his responsibility to his brothers and sisters lasted, "as long as I am in this body" (1 Peter 1:13). Our "victories" are not "all won" as long as there is one brother or sister left in the valley. On the contrary, we need to remember the words of Paul: "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Corinthians 12:26).

In that same passage, speaking of members of the physical body, he noted that "the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable" (1 Corinthians 12:22). Could it be that a brother or sister in the valley of despair is critically needed for God's work? I am reminded of the relationship between two great English hymn writers, William Cowper and John Newton. Cowper was a man plagued with severe depression, who had spent time in an asylum. Newton, as is well known, was a former sea captain, whose turn to the ministry had hardly dampened his energetic personality. When Newton came to the village of Olney and moved in around the corner from Cowper, the former reprobate and the bookish recluse became best friends, engaging in long walks and lively conversation. Together they compiled the famous Olney Hymns, in which Newton's "Amazing grace" and Cowper's "God moves in a mysterious way" were first published. What would the world have lost, if not for Newton's determination to support and encourage his friend?

Stanza 3:
Sweet it is to dwell in sunlight,
Where the shadows never rise,
Where the balmy wafting breezes
Kiss the blue, o'er-hanging skies;
But there's always in the shadow
Some poor mortal, brave and true,
Don't forget that in the valley
There is someone needing you.


The third stanza returns to a less accusatory tone, admitting that it is only human to prefer the sunlit times of life. There is good and honest enjoyment in God's blessings, as is seen throughout the Proverbs. Even amid the somber pronouncements of Ecclesiastes we read: "I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--this is God's gift to man" (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).

But if we are blessed with such quiet and prosperous periods of life, let us make good use of them; as the saying goes, "Make hay while the sun shines." In times of prosperity, let us help those who are in need. In times of youth and vigor, let us help the weak and aged. In times of spiritual strength, let us reach out and help the weaker brother or sister. We are all just a crisis away from being on the other side of the equation.

The letter to the Romans, which has much to say in its closing chapters about the relationship between the spiritually strong and weak, caps off the discussion with the following:  "We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves" (Romans 15:1). It was Jesus himself, of course, who gave us the greatest example: "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14).

About the music; or this time, actually, About the musician:

From Churches of Christ: a biographical,
historical, and pictorial history
, page 653.
Leonard Daugherty (1859-1951) was a prominent songleader and songwriter in the U.S. Restoration Movement, during that unfortunate period that revealed the growing divide that manifested itself in the early 20th century in two distinct fellowships, known generally then as the Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ. A native of Kentucky, Daugherty was right along the fault line between the more liberal and urban congregations of the Midwest and the more conservative and rural congregations of the South. His career shows the complexity of such relationships during this period--to my knowledge he is the only music editor to claim the distinction of editing hymnals for both the Christian Standard and the Gospel Advocate, whose respective editors, Isaac Errett and David Lipscomb, were two of the most influential leaders on each side of the division.

Daugherty was the third of nine children, born to a farming family in the vicinity of Elizabethtown, Kentucky (just south of Louisville). He was living at home until 1880 (see Daugherty family records in References). It is not clear where he received his music education, but there was an excellent private music teacher in Elizabethtown, Mrs. Eliza Vertress, who was educated at the Bethlehem Academy and was also a member of the local Christian Church (Haycraft 161, 167).  He was referred to as "Professor Daugherty" by the editor of the Southern School Journal (December 1901 page 12), which seems to indicate a diploma, perhaps from a "music normal," an institution for training leaders of singing schools (at that time most colleges in the U.S. did not offer professional studies in music). "Professor" could also have been a courtesy title, such as "Maestro," since Daugherty was teaching for the College of the Bible in Lexington at the time; but the use of this honorific by an education journal tends to indicate more legitimacy.

By the age of 25, at least, Daugherty had found his calling as a "singing evangelist" and hit the road with none other than James A. Harding, co-founder of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the man for whom Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas is named. During the 1880s Harding's more settled academic life was still in the future, and he was preaching on a nearly daily basis in evangelistic meetings across the nation (Harp "Harding"). Daugherty joined him for a meeting held in Scottsboro, Alabama in January 1884, at which they were required to purchase coal, stoke the fires, trim the lamps, and open the building for those they hoped would attend. By the end of the meeting their expenses had totaled $35.60, and local Christians had supported them to the amount of only $1.50. Had it not been for an unexpected check from Kentucky that arrived on the day of their departure, they would not have been able to leave town for their next meeting (Sears, 42, 51).

Despite the occasionally less-than-ideal circumstances, Daugherty was received with considerable acclamation as a songleader. The practice of evangelists bringing along a songleader was not just insurance against possible deficiency in the local talent; Moody and Sankey had proven in the 1870s that a skilled gospel singer could be a major attraction for gathering crowds. Daugherty was known to sing solos in these meetings as well (and not the unintentional solos I have sometimes sung when leading an unfamiliar hymn). The correspondent of the Semi-Weekly Interior Journal of Stanford, Kentucky, described the experience as follows:
The splendid solo singing by Mr. Leonard Daugherty, of Elizabethtown, who has been fitly styled "the sweet singer of Israel," is by no means a minor feature. The congregation listen to him with rapt attention and silence reigns supreme while his rich, melodious voice fills the church (16 December 1887 page 8).
The Hartford (Kentucky) Herald praised him to the same degree: "Prof. Daugherty enjoys the distinction of being one of the finest solo singers in Christian choirs, and will doubtless enrapture our people with his well-trained voice" (27 June 1888 page 3). Apparently the people of Hartford were not the only ones enraptured with him; on 7 March 1888 the 29-year-old bachelor secured a license to marry Essie Bonner of Floyd County, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville. She was an able singer herself, and later joined him in singing at meetings (Hickman Courier (Hickman, Ky.) 24 May 1895 page 3).

During the years approaching the end of the century Daugherty was becoming recognized not only regionally, but nationally. In the 1890s he was widely sought after in his own state, and in the South. He led singing for the 1894 convention of the South Kentucky Christian Missionary Society (Hartford Herald 9 May 1894 page 2). He sang for gospel meetings held in Tennessee by the prominent minister and educator Hall L. Calhoun (Christian Evangelist 2 September 1897 page 556), and in Illinois with Victor W. Dorris of the prominent congregation in Georgetown, Kentucky (Christian Evangelist 13 December 1900 page 1589). And in the fall of 1901, he was invited to lead singing for one of the devotional periods at the General Missionary Convention held in Minneapolis (Christian Evangelist 19 September 1901 page 1205).

Even more significantly, that same year he was appointed the first regular instructor of vocal music at the College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky (Kentucky University 1900-01, 1901-02 Catalogs page 46page 48). Today known as Lexington Theological Seminary, the College of the Bible was the oldest and most influential college associated with the Restoration Movement, and at that time was under the presidency of the influential J. W. McGarvey. Putting the icing on the cake, the Southern School Journal, the official paper of the Kentucky State Board of Education, announced that "Professor Leonard Daugherty, the eminent teacher of music in Kentucky University will contribute a song to each number of the School Journal in 1902, if space permits" (December 1901 page 12). (In a complex arrangement that was eventually dissolved, the College of the Bible functioned at that time under the umbrella of the fledgling Kentucky University.) Daugherty contributed at least one song, an arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (July 1902 page 9).

Daugherty's songleading work continued at a steady pace during the new century as well. One evangelist with whom he often traveled was James Small, who said of Daugherty, "He is beyond all odds the best leader I have met in the South" (Christian Evangelist 12 January 1905 page 59). With Small and others, Daugherty began to hold meetings outside the Restoration Movement strongholds in the Midwest and South. He went with Small to Danbury, Connecticut (Christian Evangelist 4 May 1905 page 582), and to Yakima, Washington with R. R. Hamlin (Yakima Herald (North Yakima, Washington Territory) 13 February 1907 page 13). Daugherty's work at these meetings must have been dazzling; at times he even used stereopticon shows as backdrops to the song service, predating the use of PowerPoint in songleading by nearly a century! (Hartford Republican 6 April 1906 page 4).

But however kind these decades of the 1890s and 1900s were to Daugherty's career, they were troublesome times for the churches of the Restoration Movement. Several flashpoints of division emerged, in particular the use of musical instruments in worship and participation in missionary societies. Behind these was a fundamental issue of hermeneutics and Bible authority. And I suggest that hiding behind this was an equally important question of how the churches would deal with the rising tide of theological liberalism in general, and with the growing desire to be more socially acceptable as the once-frontier regions became more urbane. Daugherty's relationship to these issues can be seen at least in part by his relationships with publishers.

I have made a WorldCat list of Daugherty's publications, and from what I have found, his first editorial credit was in Christian Hymns, published by David Lipscomb's Gospel Advocate in Nashville in 1889. GA editor Elisha G. Sewell shared top billing in this work with Rigdon McIntosh, the well-known hymnal editor for the Methodist Church (South) and a resident of Nashville; but immediately under their names appears the phrase, "assisted by Leonard Daugherty," advertising the involvement of this popular songleader. James A. Harding, one of Daugherty's earliest evangelistic partners, recalled both Daugherty and Lipscomb being present at his own first meeting with Sewell in Nashville (Sears 246). (This seems to have been just prior to Harding's and Daugherty's 1884 meeting in Alabama, previously mentioned, but Sears is not explicit about the year.)

In 1895 Daugherty self-published a small songbook called Voice of Praise, and his standing in Gospel Advocate circles was further confirmed by the publication that year of a combined "flip-over" book with Christian Hymns on one side and Voice of Praise on the other (WorldCat #37550112). But the trouble brewing over instrumental music, in particular, may have spelled the end of that collaboration. As early as 1887 his former partner James A. Harding had lost his pulpit at the Court Street congregation in Winchester, Kentucky, because he refused to go along with the inclusion of instruments (Sears 80). And by 1895, at least, we find record that Daugherty led singing with the accompaniment of an organ at the 10th Street Christian Church in Paducah, Kentucky (Harp "Calhoun").

Like many church members during this time, Daugherty may not have come to a firm opinion on these matters, or determined how to deal with the problems they created. J. W. McGarvey, for example, opposed the use of instrumental music in worship, but accepted the missionary society; many other preachers declared they were personally opposed to one or the other, or both, but would continue in fellowship with those who accepted the innovations. Even as late as 1901, David Lipscomb himself did not seem to consider this an irreconcilable problem; he and James A. Harding met with Hall L. Calhoun (who preached for the 10th Street congregation in Paducah, where the organ was used) about the possibility of the latter's teaching at the Nashville Bible School (Harp "Calhoun"). Though their differences ultimately caused Lipscomb to abandon the idea, it shows that he was open to discussion. It also suggests that he might have been willing to use Daugherty as a hymnal editor, even if they disagreed on the instrument issue, since they were obviously closer on most points than were Lipscomb and McIntosh, the Methodist editor.

Even in Voice of Praise, however, we see Daugherty's growing connection with the more progressive movement of the urban Midwest. He included a large number of songs by James H. Rosencrans, a hymnwriter and author of Sunday School material for Standard Publishing of Cincinnati ( This was the publishing arm of the Christian Standard, the leading journal among the "progressive" congregations, which had lately been edited by Isaac Errett, David Lipscomb's opposite number in the issues of the day. And from 1900 on, Daugherty seems not to have done any further work with the Gospel Advocate or its partner, McQuiddy Publishing, but instead edited hymnals for Standard Publishing and other publishers in Cincinnati. Several were co-edited with Rosencrans:
  • Crown of Beauty (Standard Publishing, 1902)
  • Union Gospel Songs (Standard Publishing, 1907)
  • Praise Triumphant (Triumphant Publishing, 1915)
  • Chimes of Glory (Powell & White, 1921) 
According to biographical notes at the Enos E. Dowling Hymnal Collection site, Daugherty served as the music editor for Christian Standard for a number years, presumably from the first decade of the century forward.

Daugherty's involvement with the missionary societies and other para-church organizations grew during the 1900s as well, further distancing him from the editors of the Gospel Advocate. Daugherty was featured prominently at the General Convention of the Christian Church held in New Orleans in 1908, where he directed the music for the final evening assembly (Christian Evangelist 29 October 1908 pages 1379, 1382).

Music directors at the 1908 General Convention.
L to R: Daugherty, Hackleman, and Van Camp.
Christian Evangelist 29 October 1908 page 1392

I have found very little concerning Daugherty's life past the early 1920s, perhaps because the digital resources to which I have access are much more extensive in the public domain era (published prior to 1923). I look forward to hearing from anyone who has further resources on this interesting transitional figure in the Restoration Movement of the early 20th century.


Nutting, Mary O. MS collection 0572. Finding aid. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, 1998.

Household of Joseph W. Barrett. 1920 U.S. Census, Ohio County, Kentucky.

Local news. Hartford Herald (Hartford, Kentucky) 13 August 1913 page 5.

News item. Hartford Republican (Hartford, Kentucky) 8 September 1905 page 4.

News item. Hartford Herald (Hartford, Kentucky) 2 February 1921 page 4.

Churches of Christ: a biographical, historical, and pictorial history, edited John T. Brown. Louisville, Ky.: Morton, 1904.

Harp, Scott. "Hall Laurie Calhoun." The Restoration Movement,hl.htm

Harp, Scott. "James A. Harding." The Restoration Movement.,jamesa.htm

Catalog, 1900/01 & 1902/03, Kentucky University.
p. 48 Daugherty taught a vocal music course in the College of the Bible

Sears, Lloyd Cline. The eyes of Jehovah: the life and faith of James Alexander Harding. Nashville, Tenn.: Gospel Advocate, 1970.

Haycraft, Samuel. A History of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and its surroundings (written 1869). Elizabethtown, Ky. : Woman's Club of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, 1921.

"Hymnal Writers, Compilers and Publishers: Their Illinois Connection." Hymnals of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Enos E. Dowling Hymnal Collection

Daugherty newspaper articles ( and

News item. Semi-Weekly Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) 16 December 1887 page 8.

News item. Hartford Herald (Hartford, Ky.) 27 June 1888 page 3.

"Missionary Society." Hartford Herald (Hartford, Ky.) 9 May 1894 page 2.

News item. Hickman Courier (Hickman, Ky.) 24 May 1895 page 3.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 2 September 1897 page 556.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 13 December 1900 page 1589.

Program of the General Missionary Conventions, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Christian Evangelist 19 September 1901 page 1205.

Current events. Southern School Journal December 1901 page 12.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 30 April 1903 page 356.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 5 November 1903 page 594.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 12 January 1905 page 59.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 16 February 1905 page 228.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 4 May 1905 page 582.

Evangelistic reports. Christian Evangelist 1 June 1905 page 711.

News items. Hartford Republican 6 April 1906 page 4.

Local notes. Yakima Herald (North Yakima, Washington Territory) 13 February 1907 page 13.

News from many fields. Christian Evangelist 9 July 1908 page 884.

"Meeting at Biardstown, Texas." Christian Evangelist 3 September 1908 page 1136

"Convention notes and comments." Christian Evangelist 29 October 1908 pages 1379, 1382.

News notes. Montezuma Enterprise (Montezuma, Indiana) 4 August 1921 page 1.

Religion column. Bourbon News (Paris, Ky.) 21 July 1922 page 4.

Daugherty family records

George W. Daugherty household, 1860 U.S. Census. District 1, Hardin County, Kentucky, page 82.

George W. Daugherty household, 1870 U.S. Census. Elizabethtown Precinct, Hardin County, Kentucky, page 26.

George W. Daugherty household, 1880 U.S. Census. Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky.

Leonard Daugherty & Essie Bonner, marriage license, 7 March 1888, Floyd County, Indiana.

Louisville City Directory 1890 page 1187: "L. Daugherty, music teacher."

Louisville City Directory 1891 page 325: "Leonard Daugherty, clk Greenup Music Co."

Leonard Daugherty household, 1910 U.S. Census. Allison, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dying with Jesus

Praise for the Lord #126

Words: Daniel W. Whittle, 1893
Music: May Whittle Moody, 1893

Though my previous post on D. W. Whittle was devoted entirely to clearing up inaccuracies handed down in anecdotes about his life, there is good evidence that the story behind his writing of "Dying with Jesus" (or "Moment by Moment") is entirely true. It goes back to a chance encounter, and an offhand comment, at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. The massive "Columbian Exhibition," spanning five months, covering 600 acres, and hosting more than 700,000 persons at its highest daily attendance, became a landmark in American culture. (Wikipedia). The prospect of reaching this massive audience of all social classes and many nationalities prompted Dwight Moody and his fellow urban revivalists to organize an evangelistic campaign to run simultaneously with the Exhibition. Never one to think on a small scale, he enlisted the help of every evangelist he knew (including of course his old friend D. W. Whittle), even before it was clear whether they would have places to speak in the overcrowded city. Also invited as special guests were several preachers from the U.K. whom Moody had met during his recent preaching tour there (Hartzler 19).

Among these was Henry Varley (1835-1916), an English evangelist whose outreach to the working poor of London did much to inspire Moody's own efforts in that direction (Lewis). Hartzler, who attempted to document the frenetic activities connected with this campaign, noted that during at least part of October 1893 Varley was preaching at regular hours twice a day on weekdays, not counting Sundays and evening sessions (60-61). Varley was featured prominently in the midday programs organized by Moody at the Central Music Hall, where he shared the platform with the well-known songleaders such as Sankey and Stebbins (Hartzler 102). And on at least one documented occasion (surely there were more), Varley and Whittle spoke on the same program (Hartzler 185-187).

The occasions for conversation fostered by this association together apparently led to a pithy saying from Varley that stuck in Whittle's mind, as such sayings do. Sankey recalled that Varley happened to comment, "I do not like the hymn 'I need Thee every hour' very well, because I need Him every moment of the day." Anyone who has written a song or two can testify to the fact that some incidents or phrases will immediately suggest an idea for a lyric, and though Varley's comment surely was not meant as a serious criticism of Annie Hawks's hymn, it was a good play on ideas. According to Sankey, Varley's words suggested to Whittle the catch-phrase "moment by moment," and led him to write this hymn (Sankey 140-141).

Whittle gave the copyright of this song over to Sankey, who published it in both the U.S. and the U.K. (Sankey 141). To the best I have been able to determine, its first appearance was in Christian Endeavor Hymns, published in 1894 by Biglow & Main in New York (, and by Morgan & Scott in London (WorldCat). It caught on very quickly, earning a spot in the expanded 1200-song edition of Sankey's perennial Sacred Songs and Solos. The list of instances of this hymn in shows that it has maintained its popularity well over the decades. Interestingly, though some of Whittle's other lyrics ("I know Whom I have believed," "Why not now?," "There's a royal banner") have been widely sung among the Churches of Christ, I have only heard "Moment by moment" a handful of times in my life. Perhaps it is more popular overseas, or in other regions of the U.S. An online copy of this hymn is available here.

Stanza 1:
Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

The opening line of this hymn might have been inspired by more than one Scripture passage, since it restates a critically important truth about our salvation. I believe it is most likely referring, however, to the great 6th chapter of Romans--one of the clearest statements of the wonder of Christ's atonement. "Dying with Jesus . . . Living with Jesus" seems to come from Romans 6:8, "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him." This verse pivots around death and life, and serves as a transition from the preceding passage on Christ's death to the following passage on Christ's eternal life. The individual who passes through this process with Christ receives spiritually the same effects--death and resurrection. Leading up to Romans 6:8 we read:
We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin (Romans 6:4-7)
"Dying with Jesus" is this participation in His death, through baptism, which crucifies the old self and its sins, destroying the enslaving power of sin over our lives. But the transformation--incredible as it is even up to this point--is not complete. These verses give previews--"newness of life," and "united with Him in a resurrection"--then verse 8 shows us the flip side of our "death" with Christ: "if we have died with Christ . . . we will also live with Him." The next passage elaborates on this new life and its results:
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:9-13).
"Living with Jesus" is participation in His resurrected glory, free from the dominion of spiritual death here and now, and able to face physical death with faith in the resurrection to come. But this new life comes with strings attached! We are living "with Jesus" now. We are not to go back to the dead life of sin, and the conduct that went with it; we are to be God's "instruments for righteousness" instead of serving ourselves in selfishness. There is a "bright line," as it has been put, between spiritual death and spiritual life; the point of baptism is the clear demarcation when Christ's death and resurrection are reenacted in us. But whereas the old life of sin is brought to an end, the "newness of life" process is only just beginning!

Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;
Moment by moment I've life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Here we come to the point of the hymn--the new life in Jesus is an ongoing relationship, "moment by moment." In John 15:10 Jesus told His disciples, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." We do not need to get out the Greek lexicon to understand that "abide" does not mean once a week on Sunday, or even a specific time of prayer or worship during each day. Though all of these are good and right, abiding in Christ's love is an ongoing submission to His will in our thoughts, words, and actions. If our times of prayer and worship do not carry over into our conduct, "moment by moment," we may be occasional visitors, but we are not abiding.

The "life from above" given by Jesus is one of the themes, perhaps the greatest theme, of the gospel account by John. From beginning to end, Jesus is shown to be the source of life. In the first paragraph John declares,
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). At the thematic conclusion of the book (excepting the postscript, chapter 21), John notes "these [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31). Toward the middle of the book, Jesus makes the beautiful and profound statement, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).

But that new life once begun is not left to fend for itself; Romans 8:11 assures us that, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." This promised help is as critical to our spirits, as the air we breathe is critical to our physical bodies. In the early days of space exploration, those brave souls who dared to take the first steps outside a spacecraft had to make doubly and triply sure of the soundness of their umbilical cables that supplied air and power to their spacesuits. At the same time they were carefully monitored by a team on the ground, and usually by a partner inside the ship who was ready to come help if needed. In this sinful world, the new life of the Christian is in a spiritual environment every bit as hostile as outer space, and we desperately need that lifeline of the Spirit. Paul explained in Galatians 2:19-20,
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
It would be a very foolish space traveler who went outside the spaceship, to the very end of the oxygen line, and started pulling it to see if it would come loose. In the same way, we need to remember our "moment by moment" dependence on that spiritual nourishment from above, and live in a way that keeps us within that care.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).
Romans chapter 8 goes through a lengthy list of those things that cannot "separate us from the love of God" (v. 39). If the source of our life and strength is "hidden with Christ in God," and renewed moment by moment, what can we fear?

Stanza 2:

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment I'm under His care.


If ever a Christian could assert the truth of these sentiments, it was the apostle Paul. Toward the end of his second letter to Timothy, he recounted his own recent trials--of the literal, legal kind--and admitted that his case did not look promising. Gone were the days described in the closing chapters of Acts, when his Roman captors were somewhat bemused by the Jewish religious dispute that had been referred to Caesar. This time it involved lions.
At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
It was hardly the first time for Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 he gives a litany of the mistreatment and misfortune he had borne for the cause of Christ. But he held fast with the reassurance that, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12). He knew Who stood by him, "moment by moment," and had absolute confidence in His continued care.

Peter, too, had seen the inside of a prison cell for the cause of Christ. He had been through the persecution of the original church in Jerusalem and had seen the martyrdom of his fellow apostle and close friend James. He knew that he too would meet a martyr's death for Christ (John 21:18-19). Yet in the opening of his first letter he says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7).
Despite the years of maturity he had accumulated we can still hear the pugnacious, exuberant spirit who was once ready to take up arms for his Lord. Peter does take up arms now, but in a spiritual sense instead; he is ready for this fight, because he knows Who is on his side, "moment by moment," through the battles of life. The trials will be difficult, he says, but that makes the victory all the sweeter!

Stanza 3:
Never a heartache and never a groan,
Never a teardrop and never a moan;
Never a danger but there on the throne,
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.


The great epistle to the Hebrews, an essay on the fulfillment of the Hebrew Testament in Jesus Christ, repeatedly drives home the superiority of Jesus' high priesthood to that of the old order. He serves all the functions of a human high priest, yet without the human failing of sin; He intercedes with the Father as an equal, but He is also fully sympathetic to our human weakness. One of the best summary statements of this idea is found in Hebrews 4:14-16,
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The third stanza of Whittle's hymn touches on those very things that most show our humanity, even when we have the new, forgiven life within us--"heartaches," "groans," "tears," and "moans." In every one of these Jesus was (and still is) just as human as you and me. The shortest verse in the English Bible, John 11:35, is also one of the most meaningful in this regard--"Jesus wept." He shed tears for the grief of His friends on that occasion; in Mark 3:5 He was also "grieved" at the willful ignorance He encountered in His enemies, and in Matthew 23:37 said in sadness, "How often I would have gathered you together as hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!"

But if ever there were a question about His acquaintance with human grief, it was forever settled at Gethsemane. He knew what was coming, and wanted His friends with Him, saying, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me" (Matthew 26:38). But when He needed them, they failed Him. He went to His Father in prayer, alone, as we often must do: "And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'" (Mat 26:39). Luke, ever the careful recorder of medical detail, informs us that, "Being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44).

We all will have our Gethsemanes in this life, in one way or another, when we will have to face emotionally crushing circumstances largely on our own. Then more than ever, let us remember that we always have an Advocate before the Father who knows how we feel and will understand; "moment by moment" we will "receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Stanza 4:
Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus, my Savior, abides with me still.


The preceding stanzas of Whittle's hymn assure us that Jesus is with us through trials, and through sorrows; but these are framed largely as external pressures on the individual. The final stanza looks at the trial and sorrow of personal illness. It is significant that Satan's persecution of Job saved this for last; in fact he boasted of this to the Lord: "Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face" (Job 2:4-5).

Physical suffering tries the Christian in a number of ways. From a purely physiological standpoint, it can disrupt the soundness of our thinking. But in an emotional sense it can do much worse; it can burden us with the regret of activities in which we can no longer engage, and it reminds us of that which the flesh naturally resists the most--the inevitable end of this mortal existence.

Here too we know that Jesus is with us, in spiritual aid and in sympathetic care. Jesus suffered far worse than we ever will, and His infinite understanding knows the griefs and sufferings of every precious soul in His world. The great Messianic passage of Isaiah 53 says, "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," and Matthew applied that prophecy specifically to Jesus' work as a healer of physical diseases and infirmities (Matthew 8:17). Malachi also prophesied of the healing power of Messiah: "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2).

God does not promise, however, to relieve us of all physical distress on this side of eternity. When Paul had his own "thorn in the flesh," he specifically asked for relief from this burden and was told, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). But we need to remember--as hard as it is to hear at the time they are upon us--these physical burdens will not last forever, nor need they hold down that eternal part of us. Paul, who knew of which he spoke, said,
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
If we are in Christ, and Christ's Spirit is in us, then "day by day" we are being renewed spiritually, and it is not too much to extend this to Whittle's phrase of "moment by moment." God never misses a beat; Psalm 121:4 tells us, "Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." When the long nights come that we cannot sleep, God is waiting up with us. He is with us in "woe or in weal ['well-being' DRH]", in the bad times and the good. Let us learn to grasp hold of that ever-present source of strength, and heed David's words in Psalm 55:22, "Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved."

About the music:

Mary ("May") Whittle Moody (1870-1963) was still May Whittle when this song was written, and it first went to press under that name. On 28 Aug 1894 she married William R. Moody, son of her father's longtime  friend (Massachusetts Marriages 535). Rather unusually for a woman in that era, May Whittle had studied music at Oberlin College in Ohio and at the Royal Academy of Music in London (Claghorn 150). As one half of this evangelistic "power couple," she served as editor of the 3rd and 4th editions of the Northfield Hymnal (, a publication connected with the Moodys' Northfield Seminary near Springfield, Massachusetts.

In addition to "Moment by moment," the following songs also have music by May Whittle Moody. Most were settings of her father's lyrics.
May Whittle Moody also composed at least one secular art song, titled: "A Loch Fyne lullaby: Softly the night-winds are rippling the sea," voice & piano, 1897 (

Her music is firmly within the style of the Victorian parlor-song, and for that reason sometimes sounds dated. That said, it is really well-written Victorian parlor music! Of course it is replete with chromatic harmonies; in "Moment by moment" there is an augmented triad at the end of the 2nd measure (F-A-C#), a sprinkling of secondary dominants and fully-diminished 7th chords, and a respelled German augmented 6th chord at the end of measure 11 (Db-G#-F-B, or B-Db-F-Ab). But what is really impressive is that these all flow naturally with the melody and the part-writing (with the exception perhaps of the augmented 6th chord, which sounds a little forced). Each part is interesting and very musically satisfying; there are frequent pairings of voices in parallel 6ths or 3rds, but these pairings are switched often and fairly equally distributed among the voices.

The refrain is the better part of the song; the simplicity of the stepwise melody suits the simplicity of the text. But it is especially interesting to compare the final eight measures of the refrain to the final eight measures of the stanza, which is nearly the same melody. At the ends of the 10th measures of the stanza and of the refrain, the melody is on an A and the bass is on an E-flat. In the stanza, this is an F-A-C-Eb chord leading to B-flat harmony and the previously mentioned augmented 6th chord (1st stanza "glory doth shine"). From that point the tag line, "Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine," is harmonized by F7 - Gmin - G7 - C7 - F.

From the 10th measure of the refrain, the composer redirected nearly the same melody to a much more dramatic finish. She took the same A in the melody and E-flat in the bass, but harmonized it as A-C-Eb-G, or Adim/m7 (half-diminished 7th), which nicely sets up the alto's F# in the following D major chord. "Glory doth shine" is harmonized by D7 resolving to Gmin this time around, at the same time introducing a high D in the soprano, the highest note in the melody throughout. The underlying chord progression to this point is Adim/m7 - D7 - Gmin. On the final line, the melody is taken down a step ("moment by moment") to fit with the continued G minor harmony, then concludes in the same fashion as the stanza. This allows the circle of 5ths progression to play out to the final tonic chord: Adim/m7 - D7 - Gmin - (G7) - C7 - F. In retrospect, the flowing harmonic progression at the end of the refrain almost makes the slightly awkward "glory doth shine" passage in the stanza sound like a point of contrast, deliberately setting up the change of style in the refrain.


Claghorn, Charles Eugene. Women composers and songwriters : a concise biographical dictionary. Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Hartzler, Henry Burns. Moody in Chicago. New York: Revell, 1894.

Lewis, D. M. “Varley, Henry (1835–1912).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed. Viewed 4 Feb 2013.

Massachusetts Marriages 1841-1915. Familysearch.

Sankey, Ira D. Story of the gospel hymns and of the sacred songs and solos. Philadelphia: Sunday School Times, 1906.'s_story_of_the_gospel_hymns_and_of_sacred_songs_and_solos

"World's Columbian Exposition." Wikipedia.'s_Columbian_Exposition