Carol and I saw the musical Godspell during late 1971 or early 1972 during our year living in New York City. We loved it. That is where we first heard the song "Day by Day," one of those songs, like "It's a Small, Small World," that never quite gets out of your head. The off-Broadway version that we had seen of the musical had a record album, and we nearly wore out the disk playing it over the next 20 years or so. During the 1980s, my friends Nancy Jones and Ralph Wakefield, produced and directed Godspell at our church. Walter played the fig tree and I played John the Baptist. Day by Day further embedded itself in our psyche.
I was reminded of it when Carol and I attended the worship service at St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin with Walter and his family during our recent visit. The lyric is based on a prayer of Richard of Chichester, the 13th Century Bishop of Sussex, and that prayer was part of the printed the order of service. (Why do the Episcopalians get to recite those ancient, beautiful prayers, and those passages from the Book of Common Prayer, but we other Protestants do not? Not fair.)
Here is the prayer of Richard and then the lyric from Godspell's Day by Day:
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.
Day by day,
Oh, Dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by Day.