Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prayer for Today's Needs: "Just for Today"


Lord, for tomorrow and its needs
I do not pray;
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin.
Just for today.

Let me both diligently work
And duly pray;
Let me be kind in word and deed.
Just for today.

Let me be slow to do my will,
Prompt to obey;
Help me to mortify my flesh,
Just for today.

Let me no wrong or idle word
Unthinking say;
Set Thou a seal upon my lips,
Just for today.

Let me in season, Lord, be grave,
In season gay;
Let me be faithful to Thy grace,
Just for today.

And if today, my life
Should ebb away,
Give me Thy Sacraments divine,
Sweet Lord, today.

In Purgatory's cleansing fires
Brief be my stay;
Oh, bid me, if today I die,
Come home today.

So for tomorrow and its needs,
I do not pray;
But keep me, guide me, love me, Lord,
Just for today.

~ From Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1887 ~

It is interesting to me that the above lyrics are available from many sources on the Internet, but some have less stanzas or are arranged in a different order. What is usually omitted is the stanza that mentions the Sacraments or the one that mentions Purgatory, or both. Instead of "In Purgatory's cleansing fires" as written above, the source I am quoting from below says "In pain and sorrow's cleansing fires".

Information about the hymn's author:

The text was written by Sybil Farish Partridge, who was born around 1856 at London in Middlesex, England. Originally in eight four-line stanzas, it is dated 1876 and first appeared in the Jan., 1880, issue of The Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1881, she was a governess of a school in Liverpool while living in the convent of Notre Dame on Mount Pleasant. Frederick M. Steele, a Presbyterian minister from Chicago, IL, visited her, known then only as Sister Mary Xavier or S. M. X., to meet the author of "Lord, for tomorrow and its needs." She gave him her name but said, "It would be my preference that the great world outside should not know it till after I am gone." Sometimes the author’s name is erroneously listed as E. R. Wilberforce. The text’s first appearance in America seems to have been in the 1888 Songs of Rejoicing edited by Fred A. Fillmore.

In the Nov. 11, 1920, issue of The Continental, Lee wrote of his earlier visit with Partridge, saying, "I learn she recently has passed away, so I am at liberty now to tell the story." Thus, she must have died somewhere around 1910 to 1920, probably at the convent of Notre Dame in Liverpool, England. The tune (Vincent) most commonly used was composed for this text by Horatio Richmond Palmer (1834-1907). Though copyrighted in 1887, it first appeared in his 1892 Garnered Gems of Sunday School Song. Palmer is best remembered for "Yield Not to Temptation." Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, a version of "Just For Today" appeared in the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 with both words and music arranged by editor Lloyd Otis Sanderson (1901-1992). The same tune was used in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 with Robert Walmsley’s hymn "The Sun Declines O’er Land and Sea." (


Valerie said...

Thank you so much for this information. I just came across a little pamphlet that the Sisters at the Carmelite Monastery in Des Plaines, IL printed about "the Daily Decalogue of Blessed John the XXIII" and it reminded me of a passage I had read in Dale Carnegie's book How to Stop Worrying. Carnegie attributed the list to Sibyl F. Partridge and so I was wondering about the background. This adds clarity. As the Carmelite sisters say: "May god reward you."

Valerie said...

One other interesting note, from the Vatican's website, specifically from a homily of Cardinal Bertone, comes this quote: "The Church's holiness and human wisdom are expressed very clearly in what is called "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII." The occasion was the "Eucharistic Concelebration Commemorating Pope John XXIII on his Memorial." I'd guess the Cardinal wasn't aware of the background information you've shared or maybe just thought it not relevant.

one grateful heart said...

Thanks for your comments and information, Valerie. I hadn't known about "The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII". I'll include it in a future post. Thanks and God bless you for sharing.

Unknown said...

What does " Let me in season, Lord, be grave , in season gay; mean?

one grateful heart said...

Susan, my understanding of "Let me in season, Lord, be grave, in season gay" means there is a right time (in season) to be serious (grave) and a right time (in season) to be cheerful( gay). There are times when these emotions are appropriate to the occasion and times when they are not.

Unknown said...