"FATHER, LEAD ME DAY BY DAY"
"Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness…; make Thy way straight before my face" (Ps. 5:8)
INTRO.: A song which asks God to lead us by His righeousness in the way that is straight before His face is "Father, Lead Me Day by Day." The text was written by John Page Hopps, who was born on Nov. 6, 1834, in London, England. After attending the General Baptist College in Leicester, England, he served as a minister at Hgglescote and Ibstock, both in Leicestershire, then in 1856 he became assistant minister with George Dawson at the Church of the Savior in Birmingham. Following four years there, he worked with Unitarian churches in Sheffield, Dunkinfield, Glasgow, Leicester, and London, retiring in 1909. The author of several books an pamphlets, including volumes of sermons and lectures, he also edited the monthly Truthseeker from 1863 to 1887 and helped to compile a number of hymnbooks, such as Hymns for Public Worship and the Home in 1858; Hymns of Faith and Progress in 1865; Hymns for Public Worship in 1873; One Hundred Hymns for Sunday Schools in 1873; Hymns, Chants, and Anthems for Public Worship in 1877, which first included "Father, Lead Me Day by Day" in seven stanzas under the heading "A Child’s Prayer for Divine Guidance;" The Children’s Hymn Book in 1879; The Young People’s Book of Hymns in 1881; and six different editions of Hymns for Special Services before his death at Shepperton in Middlesex, England, on Apr. 6, 1911.
John Julian noted that Hopps himself produced various hymns, some of considerable merit, which appeared in Congregational, Bapatist, Unitarian, and other collections, listing five among the best known. The other four are "Cold and Cheerless, Dark and Drear;" "Father, Let Thy Kingdom Come;" "God Bless the Little Children;" and "We Praise Thee Oft for Hours of Bliss." Several tunes have been used with "Father, Lead Me Day by Day" including one (Lyne) from the 1760 Magdalen Chapel Hymns, another (New Calabar) by John D. Farrer, and still another in 1928 by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel. The only one of our books to have the hymn used a tune (Posen) that was composed by Georg Christoph Strattner (1655-1704). It was first published in the fifth edition, dated 1691, of Joachim Neander’s Bundeslieder, which Strattner edited. The modern arrangement was made by Johann A. Freylinghausen (1670-1739). It is dated 1705. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the same tune was used with the hymn "Prince of Peace, Control My Will" by Mary Ann Barber in the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson.
This lovely song looks to God for guidance in several areas of our lives.
I. Stanza 1 seeks God to lead us in our daily lives
"Father, lead me day by day Ever in Thine own sweet way.
Teach me to be pure and true; Show me what I ought to do."
A. Serving God is something that must be done day by day as Jesus says that we must take up the cross daily: Lk. 9:23
B. Every day God has a way in which He wants to lead us: Matt. 7:13-14
C. Therefore, we must look to Him to learn what we ought to do: Acts 10:6
II. Stanza 2 seeks God to lead us in danger
"When in danger, make me brave; Make me know that Thou canst save.
Keep me save by Thy dear side; Let me in Thy love abide."
A. There are times when all of us find ourselves in situations which are dangerous: Acts 27:9
B. In those times, we need to ask the Lord to help us to be strong and of good courage: Josh. 1:6-9
C. The Lord will do this if we strive to abide in His love: Jn. 15:10
III. Stanza 3 seeks God to lead us in temptation
"When I’m tempted to do wrong, Make me steadfast, wise, and strong;
And when all alone I stand, Shield me with Thy mighty hand."
A. All of us are tempted to do wrong from time to time, so we should pray that the Lord will lead us away from temptation: Matt. 6:13
B. Instead of yielding, we should pray that the Lord will give us wisdom to help us endure temptation: Jas. 1:5, 12-15
C. In this way the Lord will be our shield to protect us: Ps. 3:3
IV. Stanza 4 seeks God to lead us in joy
"When my heart is full of glee, Help me to remember Thee,
Happy most of all to know That my Father loves me so."
A. There are time when our hearts are full of glee: Jas. 5:13
B. However, we must be careful not to be like Israel and when we are experiencing the joys of life forget God: Deut. 6:10-12
C. Rather, we should always take our greatest delight in the fact that God loves us so: Jn. 3:16
V. Stanza 5 seeks God to lead us in our relations with others
"May I see the good and bright, When they pass before my sight;
May I hear the heavenly voice, When the pure and wise rejoice."
A. While we are responsible to God as individuals, no one lives or dies only to himself because the Lord has made us so that we have relationships with others: Rom. 14:7
B. Therefore, when we see good in others, we should approve the things that are excellent: Phil. 1:10
C. And we should rejoice in all good things with those who rejoice: Rom. 12:15
VI. Stanza 6 seeks God to lead us in our journey to heaven
"May I do the good I know, Be Thy loving child below,
Then at last go home to Thee, Evermore Thine own to be."
A. Not only must we approve what is good in others, we must do that which is good ourselves: Jas. 4:17
B. This is what is required of those who would be identified as children of God below: 1 Jn. 3:1
C. And if we live as His children here, we can at last go home to be with Him in heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
CONCL.: Most books that have the hymn omit the final three stanzas, although the Gabriel version omits stanzas four, five, and six. The omitted stanza here is number five:
"When my work seems hard and dry, May I press on cheerily;
Help me patiently to bear Pain and hardship, toil and care."
Armin Haeussler said of this song, "The words are simple: the sentiment is childlike; the spirit, one of untroubled faith in the Heavenly Father. It is the most popular hymn by this author." Indeed, when both a child and an adult, as I travel along life’s pathway, I should be making constant request of God, saying, "Father, Lead Me Day by Day."