Keeping the Hymns Close By

Day By Day

Author – Lina Sandell Berg, 1832- 1903
English Translation – Andrew L. Skoog, 1856 – 1934
Music – Oscar Ahnfelt, 1813 – 1882

Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: For the Lord Thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Joshua 1:9

Lina Sandell was born on October 3, 1832 at Froderyd, Sweden. She was a daughter of the pastor of the parish church of that community. Being a frail youngster, she usually preferred to spend her time in her father’s study rather than play with her friends. When she was twenty-six years of age, she accompanied her father on a journey to Gothenburg, but tragedy occurred before the destination was reached. The ship gave a sudden lurch and Lina’s father fell overboard and drowned before they eyes of his devoted daughter.

Although she had written hymns prior to this tragic experience, more songs began to flow out of her broken heart which reflect a simple, child-like trust in Christ and a deep sense of His abiding presence in her life.
The remarkable popularity attained by her hymns has been due, to a large extent, to the simple but melodious music written for them by such musicians as Oscar Ahnfelt. He was known as a “spiritual troubadour” in his day. Not only did he possess the gift of writing pleasing melodies that the Swedish people enjoyed, but he also traveled from place to place throughout the Scandinavian countries singing these folk-like songs to the accompaniment of his home-made ten-string guitar. Miss Sandell once said, “Ahnfelt has sung my songs into the hearts of the people”.

Andrew L. Skoog, the translator of this hymn was well-known to the immigrant Swedish community in Midwestern America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was born in Sweden and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, at the age of twelve. He had only a sixth grade education, yet he edited seven hymnals, numerous works of the masters, and wrote a textbook on theory. He was associated with Pastor E. August Skogsberg. The two men were frequently described as the Swedish counterpart of the D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey team.

Lina Sandell was married to a Stockholm merchant, C.O. Berg, in 1867, but she continued to sign her hymns with the initials “L.S.” by which she was affectionately known throughout Sweden. She has often been called the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden” for her many fine contributions to gospel hymnody.

Taken from 101 Hymn Stories Copyright © 1982, 2012 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.