Savior Teach Me Day by Day

Savior, Teach Me Day by Day was written by Jane Eliza Leeson in 1842 and it has been included in Hymns & Scenes of Childhood. It is considered a hymn of obedience to God.

Jane Eliza Leeson was born in 1807 or 1808 in Wilford England. She was christened at St. Mary’s Church in Nottingham and then converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult. She died on November 18, 1881 in Leamington, Warwickshire. Leeson was a prolific hymnwriter, published many collections of hymns, and published English translations of hymns that were originally written in Latin.


Savior, Teach Me Day by Day is currently in public domain. One of my favorite lines includes “loving Him who first loved me” which ends each stanza. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us” and this Bible scripture appears to be a primary source for the hymn. Other Biblical references are numerous. lists quite a few. Matthew 11:29 makes reference to learning from God and John 14:15-18 offers instruction for obedience to the commandments of God. Both concepts are present in this hymn.

I chose to use the words and re-set the tune. It is set in the key of D, and within a range that is easy for most choirs and congregations, using 4-part harmony. I love congregational hymn singing so it was important to me that it didn’t feel uncomfortable for a congregation to sing. It can be sung a cappella or with piano accompaniment. I also added a 2 measure Amen at the end. As I have said before, I love an Amen at the end of a hymn. If you are interested, my version can be found here.

Dementia Sucks

The title really says it all. Dementia sucks. This is more than a general observation. Like so many others, dementia has touched my family. According to the Alzheimer’s Association more than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease, one form of dementia. 73% of them are age 75 or older. About 1 in 9 people age 65 and older (10.7%) have been diagnosed. That is a lot of families mourning the loss of their family members even while those family members are still alive.

It is only a matter of time until my mother will no longer know who I am. She usually doesn’t remember where I live or what I do for a living. She only intermittently knows who her sisters are, and sometimes she insists that she doesn’t have siblings at all. She has trouble remembering her grandchildren. This is very hard to watch. She looks like my mother, but there is very little that is otherwise recognizable. She can still sing most of the hymns she has ever known, some patriotic songs, and songs from old Broadway musicals. Only when we sing together does this feel like my mom.


There is some evidence that the disease begins 20 or more years before the memory symptoms begin. Looking back, I can now identify signs and symptoms that were present but easily overlooked. Typical symptoms include memory loss, problems with planning and problem solving, difficulty completing tasks, confusion about time and place, problems with visual and spatial relationships, problems with language, misplacing items, decreased judgment, withdrawal, and changes in personality and behavior. It basically destroys the person you love right in front of your eyes.

Like me, you might not even notice the symptoms at first. For a while the afflicted person might be able to deny the symptoms or make plausible excuses. Eventually there is no way to explain the changes away. While current medications may slow the progression, they don’t cure the disease.

Dale Bredesen, MD does offer some hope. His book, The End of Alzheimer’s, describes a program of diet, exercise, supplements, and life style change that appears to have been helpful to many people, particularly when the symptoms are mild. Replications of his studies are underway. Am I believing because I want to? Possibly. But Dementia sucks. Yes, I want to have hope.

The Lord Be With Us As We Walk

Anybody feeling stress recently? Loneliness? Anxiety? The Lord Be With Us As We Walk is a hymn offering comfort that we are not facing the trials of living alone. God is always with us. The words to this hymn were written by John Ellerton. You can find a brief bio of John Ellerton here.

This is another hymn that I chose to write a new melody and harmony for since I liked the words but was unfamiliar with the music. In this particular arrangement I added the Amen. I’ve always liked a good Amen at the end of hymns and I don’t really understand why they have been left out of newer hymnals.

The prayer for God to walk with us along our homeward road seems to have two different meanings. This could refer to our daily travels and activities, or perhaps our journey toward our heavenly home that we reach at the end of life. There is also a reminder that we should be mindful of God in our thoughts and our conversations.

Asking God to be with us through the night also makes a lot of sense. The fear of dying in one’s sleep is really pretty common. The belief that bad things are more likely to happen at night is also prevalent. All of the verses appear to be a prayer for comfort and safety, and acknowledging our need for God in our lives.

My setting of this hymn is generally in a comfortable range for non-professional singers. It also has alto, tenor, and bass parts that compliment the melody and generally emphasize the text with moving parts.

If you are interested in viewing the entire hymn click HERE.

Where Is Home?

Where Is Home

Where is home? It seems like this would be a pretty easy question to answer, but it turns out to be more complicated than I had initially thought. offers multiple definitions of home, including:

  • A place where one lives; a residence; the physical structure within which one lives
  • A dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it
  • A household
  • An environment offering security and happiness
  • A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin
  • The place where one was born or has lived for a long time
  • The native habitat, as of a plant or animal.
Where is Home

The above list of definitions adds very little clarity about what home is.

Consider these quotes:

“The ache for home lies in all of us, the safe place here we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~ Maya Angelou. In this quote the word home may not actually refer to the place we were born and raised. For some people that was not a safe place. Questioning and judgment may have be prevalent. But, that home could have been with a friend, neighbor, other family member, or somewhere else.

Where is Home

“Home is where one starts from.” ~ T.S. Eliot. While this appears a simple statement about the place you lived in childhood, I think there may be more to it. How one defines the word “start” could have significant impact. Did I start from a place, a family, a mindset, or even a culture?

“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.” ~ Tad Williams. I particularly like this one. It allows a lot more freedom and doesn’t have ties to something from the past that might have been unpleasant or unhealthy and also suggests individual agency and responsibility.

Home has meant different things to me at different stages of my life. At times it has been a house where I lived, and other times it has been a feeling of safety. Currently home is more of a sanctuary that puts distance between me and the drama and chaos that seem to be everywhere around me. That said, I am working toward the Tad Williams definition. How about you? How do you define home? Is it the same as how you defined it when you were younger? How and why did it change? That is a topic I plan to explore more in my morning journal.

This is the Light of Day

When I started composing choral music I spent time going through old hymnals (I have a lot of them) and picking hymns that I didn’t know, were in public domain, and I liked the words. That seemed like a good place to start. One hymn I discovered was This is the Light of Day by John Ellerton. I really liked that it was a description of the Sabbath. He included light, rest, peace, prayer, and first of days as the characteristics of Sabbath.

John Ellerton was born in London in 1826. He graduated from Trinity College at Cambridge in 1849 (B.A.) and 1854 (M.A.) and was ordained in the Church of England in 1851. Ellerton served in many capacities including Curate of Easebourne Sussex, Lecturer of St. Peters, Brighton, and Vicar of Crewe, Roding. He also worked as a hymnologist and wrote or translated about 80 hymns.

My favorite line is in verse one. O Dayspring, rise upon our night and chase the gloom away. I had to look up the word dayspring. The dictionary indicates that it is an archaic word for dawn. One source suggested that sunrise/dawn is a symbol of God’s intervention into our world. I think that fits well with this text. The other image that popped into my mind was a lighthouse. People often compare Jesus to a lighthouse that guides us to safety. The metaphor of night and gloom seems representational of all the chaos in our world that will be dispelled with the return of Jesus to our lives.

Interested in seeing the full hymn (my version)? Click HERE.


I’m Back…Again

Hi everyone. I’m back. I know I’ve said this many times. I always mean it too. Then life gets busy and I fall off the path. That sounds like life has been a struggle, but in many ways I’m living my dream. While I’m still working a full time job, and a part-time job, the rest of time is dedicated primarily to music; playing music, and listening to music, and composing music.

sign of encouragement

In May I had the intense pleasure of hearing my choir sing several of my compositions and in June I submitted a composition for publication. Yesterday I uploaded some compositions to for sale. This really is a dream come true. It just goes to show that one is never too old to reach for their dreams. It just sometimes seems like it. Do I wish that I had done more sooner? Of course, but all of this life experience has brought me to this moment. I just can’t feel sorry about that.

Some days my most difficult choice is whether I’m going to play piano, write music, play my hammered dulcimer, or play my mandolin in my free time. This is a really great problem to have. What about you? Do you have a dream or ambition that you feel ready to pursue? If you don’t quite feel ready, what is holding you back? For me, it was self doubt. I’m glad I kicked that way of thinking to the curb. If I can do it, you can too.

So, I said that I’m back. You might wonder what that means. It means that I have made a commitment to myself to return to regular posts on this blog. Some of the posts will be about my music. Other posts will continue to be insights on daily living. I’m asking for your help in this. Feedback is an important part for me and it helps to keep me motivated. If you like something, please tell me. If you have questions, please ask me. I really would like to hear from you.

Black-eyed-susans with Embrace New Beginnings sign