Keeping the Hymns Close By

Moment by Moment

Author – Daniel Webster Whittle, 1840 – 1901
Composer – May Whittle Moody, 1870-1963
Scripture Reference – Psalm 98:4
Written in 1893

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation”. Psalm 98:4


Daniel Webster Whittle

Daniel Webster Whittle was born in Massachusetts in 1840. He was named after the American politician Daniel Webster. He moved to Chicago after the Civil War to work for the Elgin Clock Company. Whittle became closely associated with Dwight Lyman Moody who successfully encouraged him to go into full-time evangelism. Whittle was also a hymn writer and wrote mostly under the pseudonym, El Nathan.

Ira Sankey, the “singing evangelist’ who accompanied D.L. Moody around the world wrote about this hymn in his book My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns. Here is what he wrote about this enduring hymn:

“While I was attending the World’s Fair in Chicago, Henry Varley, a lay preacher from London, said to Daniel Whittle: ‘I do not like the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” very well, because I need Him every moment of the day.’ Soon after Whittle wrote this sweet hymn, having the chorus:

Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine,

May Whittle

“Mr. Whittle brought the hymn to me in manuscript a little later, saying that he would give me the copyright of both the words and music if I would print for him five hundred copies on fine paper, for distribution among his friends. His daughter, May Whittle, who later married D.L. Moody’s son, Will R. Moody, composed the music. I did as Mr. Whittle wished; and I sent the hymn to England, where it was copyrighted on the same day as in Washington.

“In England, the hymn became very popular. Falling into the hands of the well-known Pastor Andrew Murray, of South Africa, then visiting London, he adopted it as his favorite hymn. A year later Mr. Murray visited Northfield, MA, and while holding a meeting for men in the church he remarked, ‘If Mr. Sankey only knew a hymn which I found in London and would sing it; he would find that it embraces my entire creed.’ I was very anxious to know what hymn it was, and when he had recited it, I said to him, ‘Doctor, that hymn was written within five hundred yards of where we are standing.’”

Of Whittle’s approximately 200 hymns, “I Know Whom I Have Believed” and “Showers of Blessing” are among the most familiar. In speaking of his hymns he once said, “I hope that I will never write a hymn that does not contain a message — there are too many hymns that are just a meaningless jingle of words; to do good a hymn must be founded on God’s word and carry the message of God’s love.”

Taken from Then Sings My Soul Keepsake Edition by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2011 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson