"MOMENT BY MOMENT"
"…The promise of life which is in Christ Jesus…" (2 Tim. 1.1)
INTRO.: A hymn which discusses the constant nature of the relationship that we have in our lives with Christ Jesus is "Moment By Moment" (#242 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Daniel Webster Whittle (1840-1901). The tune (Whittle) was composed by his daughter, May Whittle Moody, who was born at Chicago, IL, on Mar. 20, 1870. Her father was a revival evangelist and associate of Dwight L. Moody. Originally named Mary, she preferred to be called "May." At age fifteen, she attended the Girl’s School which was established by Moody in Northfield, MA. Later, she was educated at Oberlin College in Ohio and at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England. Having a fine singing voice, she often assisted Whittle and Moody in their evangelistic campaigns.
In 1893, when Whittle was at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, an English preacher named Henry Varley remarked to him that he did not care for the song "I Need Thee Every Hour" because he felt that he needed the Lord every moment of the day. After he reflected a while on this remark, Whittle, who had authored several other gospel songs such as "I Know Whom I Have Believed," penned these words and his daughter provided the music. It was first printed that year as a leaflet, but was later published in the 1894 Christian Endeavor Hymns, and was also included in Sacred Songs No. 1 of 1896 edited by Ira D. Sankey, James McGranahan, and George C. Stebbins.
To be fair, when Mrs. Annie Sherwood Hawks wrote "I Need Thee Every Hour," she did not necessarily mean that she needed Christ at 3:00 but did not need Him again until 4:00. Rather, this was just her way of saying that she needed Him all the time. The year after the "Moment By Moment" was produced, Miss Whittle married William R. Moody, the son of D. L. Moody. They were the parents of six children, two of whom died in infancy, and they lived in Northfield, MA, where her husband was the head of the Northfield Schools and the Mount Hermon Conference Center founded by his father. May Whittle Moody was co-editor with Charles M. Alexander of the Northfield Hymnal, No. 3. After living a long and fruitful life at Northfield, she died there at the age of 93 on Aug. 20, 1963.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for us in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. Today it may be found in the 1977 edition of the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as Sacred Selections.
This hymn reminds us of the blessings that accompany our daily life with Christ.
I. Stanza 1 says that we belong to Him.
"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."
A. Christians belong to Jesus because they have died with Him in baptism: Rom. 6.3-4
B. After this, they have been raised with Him as new creatures: 2 Cor. 5.17
C. And throughout their lives, they can look to Jesus as their guide: Heb. 12.1-2
II. Stanza 2 says that He cares for us.
"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."
A. He cares for us in our trials: 1 Pet. 4.12
B. Because He cares for us, He promises to help us bear our burdens: Ps. 55.22
C. And we can trust in Him to share all our sorrows: Jn. 16.20-22
III. Stanza 3 says that He thinks on us.
"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 on His own."
A. He thinks about us in our heartaches and groanings: 2 Cor. 5.2-4
B. He thinks about us when we are weeping and moaning: Ps. 56.8-11
C. He thinks about us in any danger, and because He is on the throne we can go to Him to find help: Heb. 4.14-16
IV. Stanza 4 says that He abides with us.
"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."
A. Jesus has promised to abide with us in our weaknesses: 2 Cor. 12.9-10
B. He has promised to abide with us when we are sick, offering healing for both body and mind: Jas. 5.13-15
C. In fact, He has promised throughout life, in both good and bad, to abide with us: 1 Jn. 3.23-24
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us that Christians can have these blessings at all times.
"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."
Of course, as John says, if we want Jesus to abide in us, we must abide in Him by keeping His word. But when we do this, we can have the blessed assurance that He will be with us and bless us "Moment By Moment."