Praise music from the past: “Day by Day”

Latest in an occasional series of worship music, some super-reverent, others well-intended but skunky.

This is probably a generational gap thing: I had never heard of this song (and was only vaguely aware of “Godspell,” the musical from which it is taken) until recently. And I still haven’t listened to the rest of the musical. (I’ll get to it, I promise.)

But as for “Day by Day,” it’s basically a perfect song, in my view. The words are easy to remember and legitimately spiritual (and more challenging to your basic nondenominational church). And even though it was written in the cesspool of the ’70s, where most songs quickly sounded dated, this one has survived and aged relatively well.

I first heard the song, as it so happens, on Catholic radio, which I rarely listen to live. The original cast recording (that’s what’s above) was played as part of morning prayer, and I was hooked on the song.

“Godspell,” with music written by Stephen Schwartz, came out in the early 1970s off Broadway (though it’s had a Broadway revival). If Schwartz seems like a vaguely familiar name, it’s because he also wrote “Wicked,” which I’m not interested in. (Sorry.) The musical is roughly based on parts of St. Matthew’s Gospel, and that’s really about all I know about it, because I’ve never seen the whole thing and don’t want to pontificate on stuff I don’t know much about. I also can’t opine on the theological accuracy of the material, because, again, I don’t know.

Stephen Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz

As for using it at Mass, I might, as a choir piece. My worry, though, is that because of its origins as a musical (albeit a religious one), it might be an inadvertent distraction. But at a concert? I’m totally up for that.

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