She was a Roman Catholic nun (Sister Maria Xavier) in the Convent of Notre Dame, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. (The building is now part of John Moores University).
She wrote this poem in 1877, based on the text from Matthew's Gospel. She allowed it to be published on the understanding that it was attributed to Sister Maria Xavier (or simply S M X) during her lifetime.
Matthew 6.24-34No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Different versions of the text appear in different hymnals. The Church of England does not accept the doctrine of Purgatory, so the penultimate verse of the hymn does not appear in Anglican hymnbooks. It is added here below.
These days, the hymn is usually sung to Providence by R R Terry, and that is the tune provided here.
 Lord, for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray:
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin, just for today.
 Help me to labour earnestly and duly pray;
Let me be kind in word and deed, Father, today.
 Let me be slow to do my will, prompt to obey;
Help me to sacrifice myself gladly, today.
 Let me no wrong or idle word unthinking say;
Set Thou a seal upon my lips through all today.
 Let me with thee, my own true life, in spirit stay:
Stay Thou with me, my only strength, dear Lord, today.
 And if to-day this life of mine should ebb away,
Give me Thy Sacrament divine, Father, today.
 So, for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray:
But keep me, guide me, love me, Lord, through each today.
 In Purgatory’s cleansing fires brief be my stay;
O bid me, if to-day I die, go home to-day.
Another version of the poem is not found in hymnals. It is a musical arrangement by Blanche Ebert Seaver (1891-1994) and was sung by John McCormack in the film “Song o’ my heart”. The song arrangement was published in 1926 and the film was released in 1930. The words are more or less the same as the hymn-book version, but again without the mention of Purgatory.
Blanche Ebert Seaver (née Mathisen) was born in Chicago to poor Norwegian immigrants. She was the youngest of ten children. She was considered to be a musical prodigy, teaching piano from the age of six. She married an oilman who became wealthy after he invented a special drilling tool. The couple had no children but used their wealth for philanthropic projects to help young people, including an orphanage in Mexico and support for several universities. She was a widow for thirty years and died at the age of 102.
Lord, for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray:
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin, just for today.
Help 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;
Oh keep me in Thy loving care, 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,
And if to-day, my tide of life should ebb away,
Give me, sweet Lord, Thy sacraments divine.
So, for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray:
But keep me, guide and love me, Lord, just for today.
Just for today
For each hymn we have provided a set of verses together with an electronically generated sound-track. The sound track does not provide any words - just the tune.
The selection of hymns to be included was subject to certain limitations, notably the restrictions of copyright. This meant that many modern hymns were excluded, and the exclusion even applied to some updated versions of traditional hymns. Some publishers have made a few minor changes to make hymns more "inclusive" and have then claimed copyright over the revised text. So in most cases the ORIGINAL texts have been used, even though these may not be the versions that appear in modern hymnals.
In deciding what tunes to be used, this has largely been the Webmaster's personal choice. It is a mixture of familiar tunes and tunes that are not well-known, but deserve to be better known. The webmaster has included some personal favourites (and excluded some pet hates!). The soundtracks provided go with the words provided - if there are four verses, the tune is repeated four times. Where possible tunes have been provided with descants or alternative arrangements.
Wherever possible, there is an explanation of who wrote the words or tunes, the circumstances under which they were written, when (and sometimes why). Many hymns include references to verses appearing in the King James Version of the Bible; more modern translations were not then available! In some cases we have tried to explain these scriptural references or other instances where words have changed their meaning over time.
This selection of "Sing-along Songs of Praise" was originally a series of blog posts written during the COVID Lockdowns of 2020. It was intended to allow people to sing hymns in the safety and privacy of their own homes at a time when hymn-singing in church was not allowed (even if the church building was open!).
When hymns are sung as part of a church service, it is normally the case that the hymn books are set aside at the end of the hymn and the next part of the service continues. There is no time to sit and reflect on the meaning or the beauty of words and/or music. This collection allows you to take your time, to read, listen sing along, reflect, and to repeat a hymn again if you wish.
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