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Jesus Loves Me and Day by Day--Skeel

Watching a local production of Godspell, the 1971 musical based loosely on the Gospel of Matthew, I found myself thinking of the similarities between “Jesus Loves Me,” the ubiquitous Sunday School and church song, and “Day by Day,” the most famous song from the musical. Both are simple, strongly rhymed, and centered on the singer’s relationship with Jesus.

I’ve always disliked “Jesus Loves Me.” My first memory of the song/hymn dates back to college, when an intellectual, progressive minister told us that Karl Barth, when asked to name the most profound theological insight he knew, said “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I couldn’t agree more with Barth that it all comes down to Jesus. But somehow he seemed to be slumming it. The song has always struck me as caught uncomfortably between the worlds of children and adults, much like the “children’s sermon” in a church.
 
“Day by Day” is even simpler, repeating the same lines: “Oh dear Lord/ three things I pray/To see thee more clearly/love thee more dearly/follow thee more nearly.” Yet I’ve always found it profoundly moving, and unavoidably worshipful.  Perhaps I’m betraying a little envy of those who came of age in the 1960s—Godspell has a distinctly 1960s flavor, at least to me—but “Day by Day” seems to get close to the heart of my faith.
 

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Comments ( 2 )

Nice reflections. I love both songs. But I guess Jesus would too since he loved children and thought we had to be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus loves me this I know is more about our certainty that we are loved and cherished by God. Whereas Day by Day is more about my need to love God more. We need both prayers.

it is interesting that "Jesus loves me" is about Jesus doing the loving but the "Day by Day" is asking for the power for us to do the loving. Just a small, but significant difference.